Bigger protests set on February 24 and March 11
Students across the country held protest actions today to call on President Aquino to stop impending tuition and other fee hikes as a 4th year BS Agriculture student of Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) reportedly committed suicide life after losing a scholarship.
“One more student has been pushed to take his own life out of desperation. How many more will we allow to be killed by a highly commercialized education system that sacrifices the youth’s future on the altar of profit?” said Anakbayan national chair Vencer Crisostomo.
The youth group Anakbayan said the suicide is no isolated case but is a consequence of the soaring cost of education under Aquino, which the group says led to 5 education-related deaths including Kristel Tejada of UP Manila and Rosanna Sanfuego of Cagayan State University.
“Under Aquino, tuition rates have doubled from P30,000-50,000 to P60,000-100,000 annually. The deregulated environment for education has only favoured big business profits. Kawawa ang mga estudyante at kanilang magulang, lalo na ang mga manggagawa at magsasaka,” he said.
University of the Philippines Manila students brought their “Black Valentine” protests along Padre Faura in Manila, UP Diliman students gathered at the Palma Hall steps in the Diliman campus, while Polytechnic University of the Philippines students massed up in the Sta. Mesa campus noontime today.
Youth and student groups held an indignation protest and lit candles at the Mendiola bridge 5 PM today to bring their demand to the door steps of Malacañang. Protest actions were also held in other schools in Metro Manila and major regional centers.
Independent monitoring by the group shows that over 400 higher education institutions nationwide are expected to increase tuition and other school fees next year. The period for school consultations for fee increases begin this February.
The group said the recent statement by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairperson Patricia Licuanan condemning student protests as “premature” means the agency has no real plan to stop tuition and other fee increases.
“Business as usual sa Commission on Highly Expensive Education. The agency is set on going through the motions of accepting tuition hike proposals and justifying school profits as it has done in the past 5 years. Wala tayong maaasahan from CHED. Aquino himself must stop tuition hikes,” said Crisostomo.
Student and youth groups are expected to lead campus walkouts on February 24 and March 11 to press their demands against the soaring cost of education under Aquino.