MANILA – Budget Secretary Butch Abad on Thursday expressed his disappointment over the behaviour of a group of student activists at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Abad said that instead of engaging in sober dialogue, members of the STAND UP student organization mobbed him and hurled objects at him after he spoke in a forum for the UP Baliktaktakan ED Series put together by the University Student Council.
The Budget Secretary revealed that he thought the forum would be a venue “for an interesting and lively exchange;” but as he was preparing to leave the place, he was surrounded by a group of 50-60 aggressive student protestors.
“I said I was prepared to address their concerns. Once I began approaching the STAND UP group, however, the protesters–who were around 50 to 60 strong–did not engage me in dialogue. Instead, they surrounded me aggressively as I made my way towards the vehicle. I had objects thrown at me, and one student even attempted to grab me by the collar,” he said.
Anakbayan chairman Vencer Crisostomo confirmed via a Facebook post that the student-activists mobbed Abad, and threw coins and paper at him.
“Kinuyog siya, he could not easily enter his car and his vehicle was blocked. As he boarded his vehicle, a student got close and grabbed him from the back by his collar,” Crisostomo added.
The student activists \were decrying the Aquino administration’s controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) the system of discretionary funds, such as the pork barrel.
Abad defended the highly-criticized DAP at the discussion on the 2015 budget.
In his statement issued about the incident at UP Diliman, Abad stressed that the public has a right to voice out its opposition to the government; for such is healthy democracy.
“Ideally, we should be able to engage each other in frank, sober discourse. I wholly understand that fighting for the welfare of our country is often an emotional and passionate pursuit,” he said.
However, he stressed that, “there is no place here for violence and aggression, and especially not in an academic environment. All that a mob wants is to harm its target, never mind truth or propriety; beyond that, it stands for nothing else.”