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Guards, students face off at picket of striking teachers

ANGELES CITY—Violence erupted at the main gate of Holy Angel University (HAU) here on Monday, the 33rd day of the strike staged by the HAU Teachers and Employees Union (HAUTEU), as a group of students tried to stop security guards from moving the picket lines.

Edmond Maniago, union president, said the security guards pushed and hit the students with truncheons and shields on Monday morning. “They did not observe maximum tolerance,” Maniago said.

At least 80 students confronted a group of 20 security guards at 7:30 a.m. Four students who had bruises and cuts were sent to private clinics for medical examination. Others reported being hit by metal shields.

But a HAU official said video footage in his possession showed the guards to be restrained and calm.

The official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the HAU management, said the guards tried to recover some space at the main entrance for students who were entering the university.

Edna Marizza Santos, HAU spokesperson, condemned the “continuous efforts of the striking HAUTEU officers and members to involve our students in the ongoing labor dispute as a strategy to force management to agree to their demands.”

In a statement, Santos scored the union for staging a rally on Sept. 12 and 13 that involved students, parents, fraternities, vendors and drivers. She accused the union of preventing students from entering the campus.

“HAUTEU has been trying to solicit the support of fraternities, leftist groups, students and their parents to hide the fact that there are only 175 HAUTEU members on strike out of 942 HAU employees,” Santos said.

All 333 union members are on strike while more than 300 teachers and employees are quietly supporting the protest action, Maniago said.

The strike was staged due to the refusal of the management to give the union P5.4 million on top of P20.9 million, which is said to be 70 percent of the tuition increase from 2012 to 2013.

The mediation has reached the level of the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, with no positive development.

The HAU management sought the withdrawal of an unfair labor practice case but the union turned this down.

Sources in Angeles City said the strike has dragged on because the university president, Dr. Arlyn Villanueva, has not met with HAUTEU leaders.

“No instance at all. [Villanueva sends] only lawyers, including her daughter and the management panel [to talk to us],” Maniago said.

Members of the Nepomuceno family, whose patriarch founded HAU, has given Villanueva full authority to resolve the matter.

Businessman Manuel Pangilinan, chair of the HAU board of trustees, has yet to issue a statement on the issue. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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Tags: Education , labor disputes , News , Regions , Teachers

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