Saturday, March 27, 2010

Imprisoned but defiant

Imprisoned but defiant

It was a sad, but defiant day as five activists were arrested by the Manila Police District last March 24, and formally given charges last March 25 201O. Seven days after the remarkable throwing and burning of dilapidated chairs of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa Manila.

The arrested, namely Cheysser Soriano, PUP central student council president; Ferrin Louise Umagat, 19; Judy Anne Fabito, 19; Piem Canela, 18, and Abriel Masilungan, 20, were accused of robbery with threat and intimidation, and it was filed against them after they loaded 13 armchairs into two passenger jeepneys inside the PUP campus in Sta. Mesa and took them out of the school grounds.

According to Chief Inspector Marcelo Reyes, head of the Manila Police District-GAS section, the basis comes from the complaint that relied on information from PUP security chief Leonardo Coquilla, that the five allegedly took out 13 desks (those were being thrown from the PUP buildings and burned last March 19) and board them onto two passenger jeeps bearing the license plates TWU753 and TVY797 without consent from university officials.

The arrest somehow was deeply connected to the attempt made by PUP President Dante Guevarra and his proposed tuition fee increase that resulted to the anger of the studentry and its spontaneous action, involving the throwing, burning of old, dilapidated chairs. As according to Inquirer:
"Soriano, however, told Inquirer that what they took from the school were 13 "broken" armchairs that they intended to take to the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) office to highlight their protest against proposals to hike tuition at PUP.

She claimed that they simply wanted to point out, through the armchairs, the quality of education students have been receiving for the tuition their parents are paying.

The PUP central student council president stressed that the protest was not only for themselves, but for millions of other students who are forced to shell out more for their tuition. She added that the case filed against them would not prevent them from staging future protest actions."

Despite their arrest and imprisonment, these accused persons are still supported by students, individuals who are opposing the said increase proposal, as well as the state abandonment of its responsibility with its decreasing allocation to education. And according to Soriano, who is the president of the PUP Student Council and also the chairperson of militant group Anakbayan, said their arrest was allegedly made to harass the students who were not in favor of the tuition increase.

The student leaders, both the imprisoned and not, vowed to continue the protests against the proposal in all PUP campuses until the PUP administration, led by Dante Guevarra, withdraws the proposal as the pronouncement of the CHED warning PUP on hasty and un-consulted tuition hike did not balk student leaders in their plans for massive protest action on March 29 during the supposed BOR meeting.

Ocampo and the rest of the PUP 5 are still imprisoned out of an unrealistic accusation, and yet they are still defiant for they are against the proposed tuition fee increase which is more of a robbery towards the poor students who comprised the majority of the entire PUP studentry.

Indeed, they are imprisoned but defiant.