Six students were illegally arrested while 23 others were injured after police forces brutally dispersed today's protest against what they called the 'anti-student education summit.'
Joanna Rose Adenit and Emman Montado of the Philippine Normal University, Crimson Laglera of Anakbayan-Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Alvin Cerrano of the League of Filipino Students-PUP, Vic del Rosario from Caloocan and Arlo Cervantes of UP Diliman were among those arrested. A certain Ophie of Caloocan is still missing.
As of press time, they are said to have been brought to the Ospital ng Maynila. Meanwhile, their companions are holding an indignation rally in front of the Western Police District Main Headquartes to demand their immediate release.
Twenty-three students from UP, PUP, UE, Adamson, PNU and Lyceum also suffered injuries from the police's attacks.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers President Antonio Tinio acquired cuts and bruises on his arms while attempting to negotiate with WPD Chief Rosales.
Youth groups National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), ANAKBAYAN, League of Filipino Students and Kabataang Pinoy, along with teachers from ACT, staged a protest rally against the Malacanang-sponsored education summit which opened this morning at the Manila Hotel.
The students commenced with the protest just as Pres. Gloria Arroyo entered the hotel to deliver her keynote address.
The rallyists were immediately dispersed as they marched towards Manila Hotel without the benefit of negotiations.
From Roxas Avenue, they were chased towards Luneta Park, a Freedom Park, where they were able to hold a short program. They were about to end the program when police troops arrived at the scene and attacked them again.
The rallyists criticized the non-inclusion of student and teacher representatives in the summit. They also protested against the government's general thrust of commercialization and privatization of education resulting in yearly budget cuts and a deregulated tuition policy.
"All we wanted was to voice out our issues and demands as primary stakeholders in the education sector. It was not at all our intention to disrupt the summit. All we wanted was to air our grievances because the government appears to have deliberately ignored our interests. Hindi na nga kami pinakinggan sinaktan pa kami," said NUSP President Alvin Peters.
"We are determined to file legal charges against our police attackers," said Peters.
The youth groups, however, remained unperturbed as they vowed to stage a bigger protest tomorrow, the last day of the summit. Students from Southern Tagalog are expected to join the protest.
They also said that they are preparing to come up with a critique of the recommendations of the education summit over the weekend. ###
*the students were released yesterday after more than 24 hours of detention. we will be filing charges of assault and violation of BP 880 against the perpetrators and their police commanders by next week. will update.
we were also able to hold another protest the next day at the same venue. this time, the police negotiated with us and allowed us to hold a short program. seems the police acquired more bruises from the flak and condemnation they received due to the violent dispersal and illegal arrests.
below was Anakbayan's statement presenting the reasons for the student protest:
other related reports:
Education not for sale
Youth group slams 'anti-student education summit'
Palace-led conference to worsen rising cost of education
Anakbayan along with other youth and student groups held a rally in front of the Manila Hotel as the Malacanang-led education summit opens today.
The youth groups summarized in three points the reason for their protest:
• The non-inclusion of the student sector in the summit.
• The blatant prioritization of interests of private sector groups, especially capitalist-educators, in the agenda and selected topics of discussion.
• The composition of the so-called Presidential Task Force on Education.
"Firstly, it is most hypocritical and in fact anti-youth and anti-student to hold an education summit without taking into consideration that youth and students are the primary stakeholders in the education sector. This sole point proves how the Arroyo administration deliberately overlooks and neglects youth and students' demands and interests," said Anakbayan chairperson Eleanor de Guzman.
De Guzman added, "The Arroyo administration is also unapologetic and continues to promote without remorse the privatization and commercialization of education in favor of big businesses, at the expense of students."
De Guzman said that the basic and most pertinent dilemma of the sector at present is the rising cost of education brought about by privatization and commercialization schemes.
"It is common knowledge that education has become more and more inaccessible to our youth because of yearly budget cuts and the general scheme of tuition deregulation wherein capitalist-educators are given free reign to increase tuition and other miscellaneous fees without any sanctions from government education agencies."
Lastly, de Guzman questioned the composition of the Presidential Task Force on Education, namely, CHED Head Romulo Neri as acting chair, DepEd Chair Jesli Lapus, the TESDA Chair, the Presidential Assistant for Education and five representatives from the private sector appointed by the President.
"These are all people close to the president and in tune with the government's anti-student policies. CHED chair Neri, for one, aside from his qualifications for the CHED chairmanship being questioned, has failed to address tuition regulation issues, consequently allowing for the average 10 percent tuition increase in almost 100 schools for this academic year without consultation with students. Deped head Lapus, meanwhile, continues to champion the anomalous and controversial CyberEducation Project over the basic woes of classroom and textbook shortages."
"We do not have to wait for Pres. Arroyo's keynote address to conclude that this government's main thrust is to transform education as a commodity. It is geared not for nation-building or academic development but for the production of cheap labor through voc-tech courses and other outsourcing institutions that benefit not youth and students but big business and foreign interests. Thus the primary roles of the TESDA and the private sector in the summit."
"Education is not for sale. We declare the education summit a failure because it falls short of addressing the issues that have plagued the education sector for so long." ###