“Today, we march out of our classrooms to protest against a shameful presidency.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Some 20,000 youths from different cities nationwide walked out from their campuses not only to protest the impending tuition increase but also to call for the resignation of President Benigno S. Aquino III in a “day of rage for justice, accountability and change,” on Feb. 27, Friday.
The youth and students from Metro Manila held decentralized protest actions inside their campuses against tuition increases. In the afternoon, they joined other sectors that assembled along España Avenue then marched to Chino Roces Bridge (Mendiola Bridge).
In his Facebook page, Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said at least 8,000 people marched to Mendiola demanding Aquino to resign. “Biggest so far since Mamasapano happened a month ago,” Reyes described the protest.
Students from University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, University of the East, De La Salle University, University of Manila, Philippine Normal University, National Teachers College, Miriam College and many others participated in the protests.
Activities were also held in Baguio, Pampanga, Laguna, Iloilo, Cagayan De Oro and Davao.
“Today, we march out of our classrooms to protest against a shameful presidency that even has the gall to talk about peace, even as it orchestrates a massive cover-up to escape accountability from the Mamasapano operation,” Youth Act Now spokesman Mico Pangalangan said.
In Chino Roces Bridge, the youth encouraged policemen who are barricading the gates going to Malacañang Palace to join the protest and call for Aquino’s resignation. “Join us now and make a stand. This is also for the future of your sons and daughters,” Vencer Crisostomo, chairman of Anakbayan told the policemen.
Asked for a reaction, ground commander Superintendent Fernando Opelanio said they were only there to keep peace and order.
‘Aquino, serial liar’
The groups blasted Aquino for allegedly repeatedly lying on the Mamasapano incident.
Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela tagged Aquino as “a serial liar.”
She said Aquino has been caught many times lying to the people and still getting his way out. “He (Aquino) is a liar to the bone. Even tolerant women cannot withstand this, and would say enough, get out!” Salvador said at a program in Mendiola.
Crisostomo said the “youth and people already know the truth behind the cover-up” and do not believe the “Malacañang cover-up script,” which includes the exchange of text messages between the President and former Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima.
“The government takes the Filipino public for fools. Desperate to cover-up Aquino’s and the US’ role, they made another script and even manufactured text messages to make it appear that the president was fed wrong information. But the more lies they come up with, the deeper the hole they dig,” Crisostomo said.
Kenneth Evangelista, vice-chairman of Kapederasyon, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group who also joined the protest said “Like one commercial says, ‘Happy lang walang ending,’ but Aquino, ‘Deny lang, walang ending.’”
A burden to the people
Among the reasons the groups are calling for Aquino’s resignation are: the continuing poverty, the non-stop increase of prices of basic commodities, education, transportation and utilities, while wages remain low.
In the education sector, for one, students from private universities and colleges suffer from incessant increases of tuition and other fees. The proposed increases in tuition range up to 13 percent while proposed increases in other school fees reach up to 20 percent for academic year 2015-2016. The National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) said 400 private universities and colleges plan to increase fees next school year.
Sarah Elago, president of the NUSP said the their group “remains firm in its stand that the Commission of Higher Education and Aquino are not only toothless in regulating tuition but are accomplices in increasing tuition and commercializing education.”
Estrelita Bagasbas, chairwoman of Kadamay said under Aquino, there are left and right demolition to build infrastructures not for the poor. She said they cannot cope with the increases in basic commodities and utilities because many are jobless.
“So what are we waiting for? We should act to remove the president now!” she said.
“Game over, Noynoy”
“Can you still bear it?” Reyes asked the protesters, who gave a resounding “no.”
Reyes said if another People Power succeeds, they will not permit another politician to benefit.
“The People Power that we want should benefit the people. We will form a council of the people. Enough of the old habit, that after a leader was ousted, another politician will take his or her place and it’s business as usual once again. If Aquino will be ousted we want the Filipino people to benefit – land reform, jobs for the people, salary increase, education for all!” Reyes said.
“The youth and people want truth, justice, accountability and change. The movement for Aquino’s resignation is growing and the peoples’ call getting louder. We no longer want a government ruled by a corrupt, liar, US puppet, haciendero brat. Game over na, Noynoy. Time to step down,” Crisostomo said.