Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Testimony to U.P.'s Militant Struggle

 (Photos courtesy of Himati)

Official Statement on the Roman Testimonial Ceremony Protest
UP Mindanao University Student Council
February 8, 2011

The 4th of February shall be another mark in our history. That day was not a testimony for  outgoing UP President Emerlinda Roman. Rather, it was a testimony to the militant struggle of all Iskolars ng Bayan, faculty and staff, who together, continuously fought to defend the University of the Philippines against all forms of commercialization and privatization. A testimony to our enduring struggle to defend the university’s public character.

 In her six years as UP president, Roman acted as an emissary of the reactionary government in pushing for neoliberal policies to make quality education inaccessible to the Filipino youth. To commend someone who pushed for the approval of such policies is insulting not only to the UP community, but to the Filipino youth and masses, who expects the university to perform its obligation to society: to provide quality and accessible education to the youth. The 300% tuition and other fee increases and the land use schemes have proven that Roman betrayed not only the Iskolars ng Bayan but also the democratic interest of the entire nation. It was not a solution to the continually decreasing state subsidy, rather, these neoliberal policies served as catalysts for the privatization of UP and total state abandonment. Instead of fighting for greater state subsidy, it has tolerated the negligence of the state to perform its constitutional mandate of making quality education accessible at all levels. Indeed, it has performed well in serving the interest of the reactionary government and the capitalists, and has neglected the true interests of the UP community.

 But because of the strong opposition of the students, faculty and staff on these policies, the administration used systematic forms of repression in an attempt to silence the progressives. Many leaders, among the students, faculty and staff have bravely fought for our democratic rights and have faced different forms of political repression, from removing a regent in the BOR to delaying a professor’s tenure. The administration’s fascist character is revealed in a desperate attempt to preserve the neoliberal character and the feudal status quo. Our militant struggle has proven to be a powerful instrument in protecting people’s rights and interest. It has always overpowered the schemes of the fascist administration.

Spending a large amount of taxpayers’ money on that ceremony despite the P1.1B decrease in the university’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) for 2011 is just adding more insult to the injury. This display of extravagance is appalling. How can these university officials be so insensitive while students, faculty and staff have to make do with the slashed budget for the university? Indeed, UP is a microcosm of the Philippine society. This picture shows us the widening disparity between the rich and the poor. This is a picture of the leadership of the bourgeois class, insensitive to the plight of the masses and a futile attempt of bringing true change in society.

On that day, we stormed the testimonial ceremony to express our rage against Roman or what we refer to as Roman Empire. On that day, we sent a message that the UP community shall never forget the deep scars of political repression left by her administration. On that day, we have shown the strength of the masses and its ability to shake up a leadership that is unwilling to serve its true interests. We may have encountered violent reactions and threats, but it did not stop us and will never stop us. The cronies of the Roman Empire have failed to calm down the agitated students and were also exposed of their true reactionary nature conveniently camouflaged as former progressives. It also exposed them of their willingness to tolerate the Roman Empire’s leadership amidst its six year track record.

The act of pelting President Roman with eggs was symbolic, done out of accumulated rage and frustration. It symbolized how we cannot tolerate the bastardization of what our university stands for. Some may even regard it as a disrespectful act. But how can one respect someone from a corrupt institution? As one UP professor puts it, the ones who insist upon respect for an official of a corrupt institution are the ones who are actually, disrespectful. Disrespect towards members of the UP community, who have been deprived of and are struggling to protect their democratic rights. Disrespect directed against the youth and its families who have been deprived of a UP education, brought about by commercialization and privatization. With these said, it would then be more disrespectful to the majority if we did not do anything that day. It would then be more disrespectful to have not fought for our democratic rights. It would then be a disservice to our constituents.

A few days from now, the UP system will bid its final farewell to the Roman Empire, and another one will be taking its place. Let this be a testimony to UP’s militant struggle and go onwards with it. This is the only way that we can champion people’s rights and welfare. It is only through mass action that we can create history. Let us not be deceived by mere promises and plans. We must remain vigilant and active to ensure that our interests will be upheld. Together, let us stand and go onward with our militant struggle!






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