Classes to be suspended in November as ‘Chaba’ raises ‘storm’ warnings
The spokesperson of youth group Anakbayan, Charisse ‘Chaba’ Bañez, unveiled today a planned ‘storm’ of youth protests against education budget cuts when college classes resume next month, including a series of ‘campus occupations’ in the style of European student protests in the last two weeks of November.
“In the face of President Aquino’s continued insistence to slash the budget of State Colleges and Universities, we are now raising the ‘storm of protests’ warning to signal #1 all across the nation” said Chaba, who is also a former student regent of the University of the Philippines.
Thousands of students across the nation walked out of their classes last Sept. 24 to show their opposition to a P1.1 billion slash of the operating budget and a zero-peso budget for the construction of new facilities of State Universities and Colleges(SUCs). Several lightning rallies were also held inside the House of the Representatives as well as the 100-days-report town hall meeting of President Aquino.
“If Noynoy does not relent to our demands, expect ‘the storm’ to strengthen to Signal #3. leading to the suspension of classes and Mendiola being flooded with youth protesters” said the youth leader.
She said the month-long protests will culminate in ‘campus occupations’ in several major state universities, including the University of the Philippines and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
In other countries, ‘campus occupations’ are a common form of protest, much like workers’ strikes, in which students take over and suspend the regular operations of their schools. Currently in France, students who oppose a move to raise the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 62 years have ‘occupied’ many major universities. In 2006, high school students in Chile demanding ‘quality education for all’ also resorted to occupying their schools.
In the Philippines, ‘campus occupations’ were also common back in the Sixties and Seventies, including the famous ‘Diliman Commune’ where the University of the Philippines’ Diliman campus was barricaded for several days to protest oil price hikes.
“We are prepared to go head-to-head with Noynoy on this issue. Unlike him, many Filipino youths can’t afford to study in the Ateneo or his proposed state universities which charge Ateneo-level fees. The budget cuts will effectively slam the doors of colleges to millions of youths, both present and future. If we have to literally go on strike, so be it” said the Anakbayan spokesperson.