Free education should not hinder student protests — Bam
The government should not use free education to “blackmail” or prohibit students from exercising their right to free expression and dissent, Sen. Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said Tuesday.
“Walang kapalit ang libreng kolehiyo. Hindi dapat nilalagyan ng pamahalaan ng limitasyon ang karapatan ng mga estudyante kapalit ng libreng edukasyon sa pampublikong unibersidad at kolehiyo,” Aquino said in a statement.
(Free education should not have nothing in return. The government should not put limitations on the students’ rights in exchange of free education in state universities and colleges.)
“The free college law is a form of benefit to the Filipino people, and should not be used for blackmail or as hush money,” Aquino said.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told University of the Philippines (U.P.) student protesters on Saturday not to “waste taxpayers’ money” by not attending classes to join protests. He said the Duterte administration’s Free College Education Act or R.A. 10931 would go to waste if students miss their classes.
His comment came a day after President Rodrigo Duterte said that he would replace protesting U.P. students with bright lumad students from Mindanao.
“Earlier today, they walked out. Go ahead,” Duterte said Thursday. “If you don’t want to go to school, get out of there because I will bring [indigenous] students who are bright and put them there. A lot of Filipinos want to have an excellent education.”
Several students from U.P. Diliman walked out of their classes to participate in the National Day of Walkout Against Tyranny and Dictatorship held also on Thursday.
Roque’s comment drew flak among many netizens, with some of his former students in the U.P. College of Law reminding him that he had used to allow students not to attend his classes to join rallies.
Aquino, principal sponsor and co-author of Free College Education Act, stressed that students in SUCs must not surrender their right to speak and dissent just to enjoy free education.
“We commend the Filipino youth who continue working for a cause, speaking up and speaking out against policies that are counter to their values and beliefs,” Aquino noted.
The senator said he was confident that Filipino students were responsible enough to know their limitations or if their actions were affecting their studies or not.
“Tiwala ako na responsable na ang ating mga estudyante. Hindi nila hahayaang makaapekto ang kanilang pagpapahayag ng saloobin sa kanilang pag-aaral,” he said, allaying fears that protesting students are a waste of taxpayers’ money.
(I believe that our students are responsible. They would not let their freedom to express their thoughts would hinder their studies.) /cbb
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