DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Student leaders from the University of the Philippines Mindanao (UP Min) hits back at President Rodrigo Duterte over his threat to kick out students in the university who continue to ‘walk out and hold protest’ and to give their slots to ‘bright’ tribal students.
“Rodrigo Duterte’s statement is a manifestation that he is a hypocrite given that he is the main reason why there is militarization in Lumad communities,” Romen Wabina, chairperson of the UP Min University Student Council (USC) told Davao Today in a phone interview.
Wabina noted that previously, ”the President even declared to bomb Lumad schools [when he delivered] his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July, where Duterte claimed the schools were teaching students to rebel against the government”.
Jayvie Cabajes, chairperson of the UP Min College of Humanities and Social Sciences-Student Council said Duterte’s pronouncement is a “direct attack” to the UP community and is an act of an “oppression” to students’ rights.
“We all know that they (students) are just exercising their rights to voice out the sentiments of Lumad and the other sectors,” Cabajes said.
Cabajes said Duterte’s remark ”proves that he fears those students who are fighting for their rights.”
“He is using his threats and his machineries to repress student movements and for them to be afraid to protest against him,” he added.
The student leaders said Duterte’s threats will not hinder them from protesting.
“We are ready to face whatever the President throws at us,” Cabajes said.
On Thursday, February 1, several UP campuses from all over the country joined the National Day of Walkout for free education, freedom and democracy to “resist and to stand against the tyrannical US-Duterte regime.”
On the same day, Duterte reacted saying that he’d be happy to reconfigure and give the slots to bright Lumad.
“Kaning UP, sige og walkout. Ganina nag walkout. O sige. Kamong dili mang-iskwela, hawa mo diha. Kay dad-on ko nang mga nitibong bright ngari. Mao’y ipabutang nako diha,” (These UP students keep on walking out. Earlier they walked out. Fine. You get out of there. Because I will bring in bright lumad. They will be the ones that I will put there) Duterte said during the indigenous peoples leaders summit here.
“UP? Gusto silang mag walkout? (You want walk out?) I encourage them. You do not go to school anymore. You stay on the streets. Go. And I will replace you with new ones,” he added.
Wabina said that if the President wants to provide education for the Lumad, he should order the pull out of military troops in their communities instead.
However, Duterte has also offered “qualified IPs “to become members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or join the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU). (davaotoday.com)