CHR’s help sought by students castigated for opposing online classes
MANILA, Philippines – Youth groups have called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to intervene in the alleged repression of students who protested various colleges and universities’ decision to continue online classes even with the lockdown over Luzon and other areas.
According to the groups Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) and the Student Solidarity Network to Survive COVID-19 (SSN), CHR should act on reports that students are being asked to refrain from expressing dissent on the virtual classes through social media.
The groups disclosed that some of these students are members of their organizations.
“We call on the CHR to step in and stand for student rights and welfare. School administrations across the country have proven time and again that their standard response to our legitimate concerns is coercion and repudiation,” SSN spokesperson Jason Anchores said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Hopefully, with this avenue open, we can consolidate the reports of student repression across different universities, find common threads between them, and fight back against draconian school administrations,” he added.
SPARK and SSN claimed to have received reports that students were not consulted on the online class policies, and those who protested were threatened with disciplinary actions like suspension or even expulsion from the educational institution.
Some of the schools covered by the complaint were De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), Colegio San Juan de Letran (Letran), IAcademy, UP Visayas – Miagao campus, and the Universidad de Manila (UDM), among others.
INQUIRER.net is still trying to get the comment from these schools on the matter.
Sources from two of the universities mentioned, who refused to be identified for fear of reprisal, have told INQUIRER.net that they already refrained from posting their opinions, with one university supposedly giving critics a notice to explain such actions.
After an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was placed over Luzon and other areas, work and other activities except for frontline services have been suspended. This forced schools to consider an online class method, so as not to interrupt the on-going semester.
However, several students protested that they cannot participate either due to limitations, such as a stable internet connection, or other problems brought by the pandemic.
Several professors have called for the cancellation of the semester as consideration to the plight of other students. In the Ateneo de Manila University, the semester has been already shortened while students were given passing grades and a tuition fee refund.
On the other hand, some students from the so-called “Big 4” universities — University of the Philippines – Diliman (UP), De La Salle University-Manila (DLSU), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) — sent a petition March 25 to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) calling for the suspension of online classes during the quarantine period.
Meanwhile, the groups are calling on the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) to react and eventually resolve the issue.
“Ched’s refusal to even comment about the piling cases reported in multiple schools just adds to their refusal to issue a memo suspending online classes, in proving that they only serve the interests of capitalist-educators,” Spark spokesperson John Lazaro said.
“The fact that we need to resort to the CHR should be a damning indictment of CHEd’s resounding failure to step in for students, but knowing CHEd, they likely won’t even care one bit,” he added.
As of now, the ECQ over Metro Manila and other areas would continue while some of the other provinces with a low COVID-19 incidence would be downgraded to a general community quarantine.
The Department of Health said on Tuesday that there are now 7,958 patients infected with the coronavirus nationwide, of which 530 have died and 975 have recovered. Worldwide, over 3.04 million individuals have been infected, while at least 210,913 have died from the disease and over 889,406 have recovered from it.
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