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Anakbayan gives DepEd failing grade on ‘human rights’ and ‘student service’ for Friday’s violent dispersal of students

August 21, 2010

Youth group Anakbayan today condemned the brutal dispersal of a high school students’ rally at the Dept. of Education’s national office last Friday, calling it ‘an act of barbarism’.

High school students and members of Anakbayan and the League of Filipino Students trooped to the DepEd office in Pasig to demand immediate action on the issue of illegal fees being collected in many public high schools around the country. In an earlier picket by the same students and groups, the agency claimed that they would ‘immediately act’.

Until today however, there has been no action in the part of the DepEd aside from the writing of letters to the administrations of two high schools in Quezon City.

“Does the violent dispersal mean that the DepEd is unwilling to heed the students’ demand?” said Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Bañez.

“You can’t blame the students for returning. After all, it was several weeks since the DepEd promised action and illegal fees have not yet been refunded” said the youth leader.

She belied claims that the students provoked the violence, calling them “preposterous” and “illogical”.

“The DepEd goons are bigger, stronger, and are armed. They could have easily controlled the situation without resorting to violence” she said.

Bañez said it was a clear case of overkill, saying “Even when the students were already retreating, the video footage clearly shows that they were still being punched, and hit with batons and walkie-talkies”.

She noted that it was ironic that the dispersal happened almost exactly a year since protesting students near Malacañang were subjected to the same brutality by military and police elements.

Last August 19, 2009, students led by Anakbayan stormed the Palace’s Gate 7 to protest the multi-million dollar dinners held by former President Gloria Arroyo in a foreign trip. Dozens of protesters were arrested, while dozens more were injured. Footage of the dispersal, which showed soldiers kicking an already-downed student, outraged youth and student groups across the world.

“You can’t blame more and more youths for thinking that there is no difference between the present and the former administrations. After all, police and military brutality, as well as insensitivity to the plight of the youth and students, continues to this very day.” she added.

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