MARCH 19-Day of student anger, resurgence in Sta. Mesa
It all started as old, dilapidated chairs and tables are being thrown away from the buildings of an educational institution. That action seemed "barbaric" as what others may say, and at the same time having a walkout with a mood for anger-as March 19, students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa started a protest, directing against what they may considered a sin-of increasing fees.
That protest somehow seemed to be justifed, as what Donna Pascual, the Student Regent of PUP, said:"The students are not barbaric, they are just showing that they are very angry."
And to mention the throwing away of chairs and tables, their action being made somewhat mirrors the fact that these students, mostly coming from humble backgrounds, are studied in a school wherein it is supported by the state, which means anything should be coming from a bigger state subsidy-that even the state for now didn't care about it all despite having a bigger budget that end up in either the hands of a corrupt official or in a murderer.
And as the chairs thrown outside are being followed by setting them on fire, in a funeral pyre like, the students evenly protested much regards to the said increase proposal, from P12 per unit, students of PUP which is a state university, will have to shell out P200 per unit or an increase of almost 1,700 percent- contrary to what I have said that PUP should be given instead a bigger state subsidy as what the students wanted.
But then, despite all of the protests, PUP officials, especially Dante Guevarra, said that only incoming freshmen will be covered by the tuition increase. And around 50,000 freshmen are expected to enroll in PUP this coming school year-but not noticing that most of them may come from the vast majority of what they targeted to pay 200 Pesos for a unit! Isn't it an act of desparacy?
And the worst thing?
Students said that they were not consulted about the hike in fees-also an attempt to curtail student representation in regards to tuition fee consultations, that may even create further protests in regards to their proposal!
But despite the protests happened that March 19 2010, the administrators, especially the reactionary inclined Guevarra still insist that the tuition hike is needed to "improve the school's facilities." And he even said (in English translation):
"The PUP, for the past 30 years, haven't increase its tuition fees... We have nothing to do because anything had been increasing for now. The cost of paper hath increased, the office supplies even increased, same as the electrical supplies that we needed, including power and utilities."
And he even added that the school administration does not need to consult its students about the matter because only incoming students are covered by the increase.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED), however, also said that state universities should consider the economic status of their students-that becoming a basis for increasing fees due to the economic status of students enrolled in PUP and other state colleges and universities. And according to Atty. Julito Vitriolo, CHED executive director:
"...it caters to the less fortunate sectors of the society."
But his message seemed contrary to the actions Guevarra wanted, and despite having students with "less fortunate" backgrounds trying to study in that said institution, may even end up "much less fortunate" for having additional fees to be paid, anything despite every financial scandal or anything that even the education sector may greatly affected!
Even thou it may affect the incoming freshmen and not of the sophomore, junior, senior and even the post graduates in that said institution, the PUP administration, led by the reactionary Guevarra seemed to be blind and deaf-he didn't think that the majority of those who are studying in "his" institution are the poor and of the needy. And the students, who continue opposing that said increase proposal, the same who threw away dilapidated chairs and tables from the windows of the school buildings outside PUP somehow are also imbued with the idea regarding state colleges and universities as institutions subsidized by the state and therefore the state must also manage it being a promoter of education.
And if Guevarra do so? All in the name of modernization, of allowing commercialization and of anything that may ruin rather the entire studentry? Perhaps more and more throwing of chairs and tables to be set upon, same as in other schools who wished to do so without any consultation or rather say trying to block the studentry from having representation in every consultation being undertaken regarding tuition and other fees and its proposal for increase.
The Board of Regents, perhaps even including Student Regent Pascual will meet again to decide if they will push through with the tuition increase.
But for the students, the protests will continue.