Oblation runners take on human rights abuses, call for democratic access to UP

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA—Members of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity ran naked last Dec. 13 to call for an end to human rights violations and the restoration of UP’s character as a “University of the People” during the annual Oblation run.

Holding placards that bear calls such as “Ipagtanggol ang karapatang pantao (defend human rights)” and “Fight for a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education,” around 15 naked runners, whose bodies were painted with “Itaguyod ang UP bilang pamantasan ng bayan (uphold UP as the university of the people)” traversed the UP Los Baños’ Oblation grounds.

“The Aquino administration has remained ineffective, if not inert, when it comes to addressing the worsening state of human rights in the country,” Maria Cristina Madeja, chairperson of Samahan ng Kabataan para sa Bayan, said.

She said at least 129 cases of extrajudicial killings, around 400 political prisoners and thousand cases of harassment, torture and forced evacuation have been recorded since Aquino started office in 2012.

She also cited the alleged rampant militarization happening in South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula, where eight army battalions are said to be deployed. She claimed that 216 cases of human rights violations have pointed to military elements as perpetrators.

“We are also running against the commercialization and privatization of education, which effectively is a violation of our right to education because it narrows the democratic access to the national university,” Alpha Phi Omega’s Ray Robin Abache said.

“Ever since the 300 percent UP tuition increase was approved in 2006, many poor but deserving children of farmers, workers and other marginalized sectors of society were disenfranchised of their right to because, simply, they cannot afford the tuition much less the daily cost of living,” he added.

“The university is becoming more and more occupied with generating income through fee increases and lease of idle assets at the expense of reclaiming its orientation as the university of the people,” he said.

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