Saturday, 23 March 2013

After Kristel: protests, rage, and the flaming chairs

After Kristel: protests, rage, and the flaming chairs

"It's revolting to see militant groups and student organizations on and exploiting the death of UP Manila student Kristel Tejada who committed suicide after failing to pay her tuition. What waste of energy and resources for them to be staging protest rallies and burning public school chairs when their time and energy should be better spend to raise funds to help poor but smart kids who are also struggling to finish their schooling..."

These are the words a group had made in response to the incident that triggered further a new wave of protest against policies controversial in the state of Philippine Education. Quite nice though that the group behind the quote wanted scholarships for each student from a humble background in order to study hard and gain enough honour and excellence as a person.

However, that same message, such as "what waste of energy and resources" in direct action would say at first as "misunderstood" just because of these so-called "protesting" people, that they are radically inclined and passionate, and they are doing these acts no matter what would be the consequences just to advance their objectives such as affordable education and bigger state subsidies, rather than by doing "peaceful" means that most of it rather fell on deaf ears. Sorry to say so, but true- especially if you're from a private school that acted as a "corporation" first and "educational institution" second, or in a State University that would complain you much after  someone looking at your belongings to serve as basis for "what to pay" such as those from Bracket A.

Otherwise, they would expel no matter that person has to justify "academic freedom" that includes "complaining in a rude manner" such as protesting and direct action, such as former UE Student Council President Einstein Recedes who had even fought for a refund from their tuition increase last 2007, as well as others who had been constantly harassed by the thugs some, if not most administrators unleashed against those who are against their wishes.  

Admittingly speaking, this writer would say that these people protesting may had spend, rather than waste their time clamoring for major changes and offering alternatives despite offering "constructive" solutions such as providing scholarships and the like, thinking that they rather chose promoting and advancing pro-student and pro-people interests with reasons such as the state had offered not enough its own budget to support Education and Social Services whilst the rest had been allocated in Debt Servicing and corrupt practises. That somehow would say that the Philippines, like last year and even last last year, tries to beautify in order to hid its very own stench all made by its controversial and immoral acts that endanger the social fabric of the common tao such as palliative solutions, reforms, even lots of rhetoric or any other crap making it enough for these people to "bite on". 

And to think that most people would really complain much about it, especially that they're working hard yet the purchasing power of their wages remains near nothing. And with this writer reading back the quote given, yes, it is revolting to see militant groups, but it is much revolting to see the system aggravating the situation by acting blind, deaf, or making everyone who dare to oppose their policies as "scapegoats" and liable for their uncertain fate.
With Kristel Tejada's death as example that triggered new wave of protests and criticisms, UP alumnus Carlo Osi had even stated his critical assessment especially to a policy that strongly contributory to her demise:

"I agree that U.P. Manila’s highly unreasonable forced Leave of Absence for failing to pay tuition on time is not the only reason for Kristel Tejada’s suicide. The problem is, this forced Leave of Absence was what ultimately drove the freshman to take her own life.

Without a doubt, this U.P. imposition was strongly contributory to her death. It caused her depression, among others. Between poverty and the U.P. forced Leave of Absence, the latter is more contributory. It punished her for her poverty and humiliatingly emphasized her dire financial circumstances. It seemed to be the last straw that broke her humble back."

Otherwise, a radical statement from Professor Gerry Lanuza speaks a direct answer to those who are making slander about the protest movement did those times:

"Manuel Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms: “But if it was true that she killed herself because the “system” drove her to it, then how come there are not more suicides among poor UP students? Don’t those activists realize that by attributing her suicide to her tuition problems they are implying that all those other students similarly situated are stronger than she was?” 
Who ever said that those who did not follow the path of suicide are much stronger than those who are crushed by the system? The reverse may be true: those who took their own lives might be stronger than those cowards who just bear the unjust system hoping that they will have a better life through Buencamino’s Economic Reforms! Better be dead than zombies!'

Thus, despite all criticisms, protests against anti-student policies, commenced thoroughly within that same week of lament and grief.

That in UP (Manila and Diliman), protests and student opposition against STFAP (Socialized Tuition Fee Assistance Program) and other controversial polices had made intensified brought after Kristel's death, with the Pascual-led administration resorted to rethinking of their policies and even "scrapping" the controversial "no late payment" policy that made a 16 year old freshman committed suicide; however, with the 2 decade-old STFAP being retained, protests against the said "program" and other controversial policies within the UP system continued.

While on the other hand, in PUP Sta, Mesa, most students had vent rage further especially with their action. And like what had been done during the Guevara administration, these students vent rage against the negligent rotten system by having old chairs thrown and set on fire all despite criticism.
Obviously, most people would somehow ought to complain about those chairs being thrown away and burned as "wasting their taxes" and its actions as "hooliganism", not noticing that those had been thrown and made into a pyre are quite old, dilapidated, unfit to be fixed and too rusty to be fixed and reuse again; that somehow students may ought to think "what are the use of these chairs being stucked up and left unfit to be reused?" These chairs would say that it reflects the state of negligence made by the state in regards to Education and thus serves as basis for these people to vent rage and had to set on fire!
Anyways, why complaining over these burned chairs, not thinking that are they're being stucked up in a certain room and left unfixed for years, if not decades before? Seems that they don't even complain it about those chairs (since these old, rusty chairs came from their taxes) before someone had to burn it as sign of protest against those who are trying hard to act as blind, deaf, mute and stupid!

Perhaps there are so many options people to choose which is which. This writer may had time helping others to read and write, but at the same time he also complains about the policies brought by the state that somehow made itself choosy such as preferring Debt Servicing than Education and Social Services. For sure people are quite reminiscing about "good old days" of seeing a good, strong public education system that brought highly intelligent and hardworking people that was pre-K12 and in par with those of private schools,  and to think that all of these would say is a result of a state's emphasis with a bigger budget allocated, why not being pursued today as well? Scholarships from private institutions would say "good", but a bigger state subsidy to support its own education system would make it "better" than those who are reminiscing the old, after all-where should have been our taxes allocated to?

Anyways, in midst of controversial issues and policies involving the state of Philippine Education, there's enough time to spend energy and resources to raise funds and to advance mass struggles. Yes, there may be raising funds for scholarships and other kinds of "grants-in-aid" for now, but as long as anti-student and anti-people policies remain, then it's justifiable to rage aloud and protest.