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UP graduation rites include protest by militant students, BOR members

MANILA, Philippines—Hacienda Luisita, the US military exercises in the Philippines and the petition for wage increase made an appearance at the graduation rites of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, on Sunday.

At the end of the university’s 101st commencement exercises, several militant graduates trooped to the front of the stage carrying banners and placards to denounce the Aquino government.

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Five members of the university’s Board of Regents (BOR) also stood up on stage with placards denouncing the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and United States government. UP officials, however, said the show of protest by members of progressive organizations was included in the schedule so as not to disrupt the ceremony.

Terry Ridon, a spokesman of Kabataan party-list and a graduate from the College of Law, read a statement attacking the government.

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“In 2010, there was a promise of change, that the darkest days were over, that all will be for the better, and merely fighting corruption would solve our problems,” he said.

“We will be leaving these halls on the second year of the Aquino administration, with the promise of change broken day after day, with the ‘Noynoying’ of the President on almost all issues of the day,” he added.

The higher education institution gave an honorary degree to Lopez Holdings emeritus chair Oscar Lopez. Just like his father, the late Eugenio Lopez Sr., Lopez received a Doctor of Laws honoris causa from the university.

Lopez was given the honorary degree for his “distinguished service to learning and to humankind through his lifelong passion for biodiversity,” the university said in a statement. Lopez is also a generous supporter of the biological sciences, forest ecology, wildlife biology and plant taxonomy in the Philippines, it added.

In his speech before UP graduates, faculty and staff, Lopez paid tribute to the late botanist Leonard Co, the renowned botanist who was a fixture at the university for many years.

There were nearly 4,000 students who graduated from UP Diliman, the UP system’s flagship campus, this year. 19 students received summa cum laude honors while 222 graduates were conferred magna cum laude honors and 862 were named cum laudes.

“We fervently hope that we have been able to instill in the hearts of minds of the members of the Graduating Class of 2012, a genuine love of country and a lifelong love of learning,” UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma said.

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TAGS: Graduation, Protests, University of the Philippines
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