/ 24 November 2020

STUDENTS of the Ateneo de Manila University on Monday, November 23, called for a nationwide academic strike to protest the government’s poor response to the pandemic and recent calamities that hit the country.

The university’s official student publication, The Guidon, posted a manifesto made in light of the alleged “criminal neglect of the state” in its Covid19 response, impact on education, typhoon preparation and response, and economic impact.

“We do not strike to exempt ourselves from the academic life, for it is precisely to fight to return its value. While this is a movement for the students, it is our hope that other communities heed our call,” the manifesto read.

“As we fight for our right to an academic life, we invite all those who want to see it flourish again to join us. We invite our fellow youth nationwide. Together, in our collective action, we strike not just for our education, but a country we can be proud of,” it added.

Ateneans started their academic strike on November 18, calling out the government for neglecting Filipinos during the past three typhoons.

They said that the only way “Ateneo can make itself relevant” is by committing “itself to serving the Filipino masses.”

The students laid down various demands that they said the government should meet.

Their demands include an academic break, retention of financial assistance to students in need; the continued payment of salaries of teaching and non-teaching personnel; greater access to electricity and internet nationwide; and subsidies for teachers, students, and families for distance learning.

On pandemic response, the students want an effective medical response based on the recommendations and counsel of epidemiologists and other medical experts; the cessation of military-centric solutions to medical problems including the removal of military officials in posts meant for public health officials; and the rechanneling of government funds including the P4.5 billion confidential and intelligence funds toward the health sector.

They also demanded free mass testing, a clear Covid19 vaccine strategy, and livelihood assistance for those who lost their jobs.

The students also called on the government to declare a ‘climate emergency’.

Until their demands are met, the students vowed to take part in collective actions such as academic strikes beginning Wednesday, November 25, as well as rallies on November 30, a national holiday to remember Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio.