2 hunger strikes set in Manila
MANILA, Philippines—Hunger strike protests were set in two separate locations in Manila to slam the blacklisting of college students and to encourage people to recognize the need for divine intervention especially with the pork barrel scam issue.
Camping out in front of the Kartilya ng Katipunan site beside the Manila City Hall, three members of the #ScrapPork Network staged a hunger protest to call for a speedy resolution to the national scandal in the country.
Bombi Plata, one of the protesters who will stay at the site until Wednesday consuming only liquids, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he and two other unnamed protesters would fast not only for the country but also for themselves.
“If we want to have change in our society, we should start it with ourselves,” Plata added and noted that he would like people to see that he was not only calling for reform but also working to achieve it.
He asked the Filipino people on social media to be part of the hunger protest by fasting with them or praying for them.
Also joining the hunger protesters is activist priest Robert Reyes who came all the way from Isabela to participate in the activity.
Reyes, also called the “running priest” for staging runs to promote his causes, told the Inquirer that he would do his part in the protest by fasting for 12 hours a day and consuming only one meal daily.
“Our message here is clear and that is for leaders of the country to remember that leadership should include divine intervention,” he explained.
The running priest shared with the Inquirer his belief that politicians were tempted to pocket public money because they “stopped praying and forgot to fast.”
“Fasting is a way to ask God to enter our lives,” Reyes said and added that the lawmakers being charged with taking millions of pesos played God in misappropriating government funds.
He said that these politicians have forgotten that “nothing belongs to them.”
But Reyes said that the people sitting in the government were not the sole individuals responsible for corruption.
“We are all part of the problem and now we should do what we can to be part of the solution,” said Reyes who agreed with Plata in saying that no change would happen if one was not willing to change oneself.
While pork barrel scam protesters held their hunger protest, about 30 blacklisted students from the Euologio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) also staged a similar demonstration in front of the school campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
The five-day hunger strike, which welcomed the start of classes in the institution, was staged to represent the students’ “hunger” for a good future.
“Despite this hunger, those who are in power are robbing us of every opportunity to have one. But we shall remain firm in our stand against any anti-student policy. We are not afraid of the sacrifices we have to make,” Anakbayan-EARIST spokesperson Ram Bautista said.
The students, who were prohibited from enrolling due to their participation in a protest in 2013 questioning the collection of a P1,000 development fee per student, along with their parents and other supporters, protested and burned masks of President Aquino and the university’s president, waivers, and EARIST’s logo outside the university’s Valencia Gate.
The development fee, according to Anakbayan-EARIST, was deemed illegal, and after numerous student protests, they successfully convinced the administration to halt the collection, which however, led to their blacklisting.
On the other hand, Rise for Education Alliance-EARIST coordinator Lianne Timenia said that the national government has been playing a role in “neglecting our state universities and colleges,” which resulted in the “exorbitant fees being charged on us due to the meager subsidy our school is receiving.”
Earlier in 2014, several student and youth groups protested over the tuition fee increase, especially in state universities and colleges (SUCs), and criticized President Aquino’s claim that SUCs were open to students wanting to transfer from private institutions due to financial problems.
As of now, the students of EARIST still await the response of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on their appeal to reverse the university’s order.
(With a report by Jacqueline Arias, trainee)
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