/ 21 November 2020

STUDENT leaders of the University of the Philippines slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for threatening to cut the funding of the school.

In a statement, Froilan Cariaga of the University Student Council maintained that the Covid19 pandemic and series of calamities challenged the implementation of distance learning.

“Duterte’s threats to defund UP ignore the very reason UP is calling for the end of the semester. The criminal neglect towards the pandemic and back to back calamities has made remote learning impossible for many students and professors,” Cariaga said in a statement.

Anakbayan UP Diliman spokesperson Ajay Lagrimas said Duterte exposed himself as a ‘fascist’ through his statement.

“It is clear Duterte has no intentions of serving the people. And now, he attacks the legitimate calls of the youth with baseless accusations in an attempt to silence their growing dissent. Attacks like this further justify our action, and continued neglect will only push more and more UP students to the streets,” Lagrimas said.

Meanwhile, the UP administration said that it will continue to value academic freedom.

The Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs said that the university does not recruit communists as this is not part of its mission as an educational institution.

“The University’s core mission is knowledge and innovation creation, production, and dissemination, using various approaches of knowledge transfer,” it said.

The university added that it encourages critical thinking which at times may manifest as an attitude of “dissidence and anti-authoritarianism.”

“UP cannot be said to be anti-government because its mandate is clear: UP is the national university. Its community of scholars is dedicated to the nation’s quest for development,” the university said.

“And so, UP will continue to lead as a public service university by providing service to the nation including scholarly and technical assistance to the government, the private sector, and civil society,” it added.