Some Ateneo de Manila University students have pledged to “withhold the submission” of any of their school requirements starting Wednesday next week (November 18) as a protest against the “national government’s criminally neglectful response” to the recent typhoons and “the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic as a whole.”
According to student publication The Guidon, “over 150 students” signed the petition to hold a mass student strike “until the national government heeds the people’s demands for proper calamity aid and pandemic response.”
In a statement Saturday, the signatories said they made the move as they “can no longer stomach the ever-rising number of deaths due to the state’s blatant incompetence.”
“We cannot prioritize our schoolwork when our countrymen are suffering unnecessarily at the hands of those in power. We assert that the Ateneo community must, at the moment, concentrate all efforts into helping the most vulnerable citizens of the Philippines, such as those in Cagayan, Isabela and the Bicol Region,” they said.
As many university students take part in efforts “that address what the Duterte Administration has not been responsive to,” the signatories said that they will hold the strike “in order to let them, and more of the student body, focus on their advocacies.”
“We strike in order to have the chance to be a person for and with others,” they said, “We cannot sit idly by and do our modules, ignoring the fact the Philippine nation is in shambles. We sacrifice what we have (that is our access to education) for those who do not share privileges. We go down the hill to help and empower those in need, as we have been taught in our classes. We fight back against inhumane and unjust systems that favor the elite few over the lives of the many.”
Dissatisfaction with the Duterte administration’s calamity response arose following the onslaught of several typhoons, particularly “Rolly” and “Ulysses,” to hit the country.
Phrases like #NasaanAngPangulo (Where is the President?) had become trending on social media as netizens looked for President Duterte’s appearance while the country was being devastated.
On Saturday, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque also drew backlash after he was caught in a video singing “Pare Ko” at a time social media sites were already flooded with calls for rescue of residents from Cagayan and Isabela provinces, who were trapped in their houses amid rising flood. Roque in a statement said, he was just “unloading” after “a hectic week.”
Meanwhile, it was opposition and Vice President Leni Robredo who earned praises after she kept updating the online world from Friday night to early Saturday morning about the rescue teams they contacted to help the trapped individuals.