Youth groups set nationwide protests

YOUTH and student groups nationwide will launch “strikes, walk-outs, big marches” in campuses, workplaces and communities next week as the nation commemorates the 40th year anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.

In a unity statement signed by about a hundred youth organizations and alliances, the groups declared that “Martial Law is still very much alive under Aquino.” The groups led by Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, National Union of Students of the Philippines and College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines expressed their protest against the rising tuition costs and the spate of human rights violations prevailing under the Aquino administration.

“We cannot simply commemorate and remember as if those days were really gone. The ‘legacies’ of Marcos are still very much alive. Marcos’ Education Act of 1982 which legitimized tuition increases is still in full force today. Human rights violations, political assasinations, disappearances and fascist repression campaigns are still rampant,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of youth group Anakbayan.

Crisostomo said students from University of the Philippines in Diliman and Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, schools in the University Belt, Intamuros and Taft areas will hold week long “strikes and campus shutdowns” from September 17-21.

“We can no longer stand the attacks on our right to education and the continuing violation of human rights and liberties. We are calling on the Aquino administration to stop pro-commercialization policies, junk Oplan Bayanihan and to stop violation of human rights,” said the groups.

More than 267 tertiary schools have increased tuition this year by as much as 15%. The groups said the actual number could be much higher as government does not monitor “miscellaneous” and other fees.

They said state universities and colleges such as University of the Philippines (UP), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) which are supposed to provide accessible education have also increasing school fees. UP, through a “rebracketing” scheme has hikes tuition from P1,000 to P1,500 per unit. PUP has meanwhile hikes its miscellaneaous fees by as much P500.

The groups said that justice is still elusive for victims of the Arroyo administration, and that the “bloody campaign of repression continues under Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan.” They cited the 100 cases of political killings, the 170 political detainees and 11 abducted under Aquino.

“Aquino keeps on saying that his family was a victim of Martial Law. But he does nothing to end human rights abuses, in fact, his military counter-insurgency plan still targets civilians and activists,” Crisostomo said.

He said the youth and people must continue the fight “for the nation and for the future” and like the Filipinos who fought Martial Law, “must make history once more.”

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