A youth party-list representative hit back at President Rodrigo Duterte for his threat to replace protesting students of University of the Philippines (UP) with “bright” Lumads, saying that the administration could still expect “more walkouts” to condemn the President’s “dictatorship.”
“This sudden concern about the education of Lumads comes from Duterte who, not so long ago, also threatens to bomb Lumad schools. His military has subjected their communities to prolonged harassment, food blockades, heightened militarization, and killing spree,” Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Elago said in a statement on Thursday.
Elago recalled the eight Manobo peasants who were recently killed in Lake Sebu. She also cited the 2016 anti-American protest in front of the United States (US) Embassy in Manila where Lumads and other rallyists were rammed by a police vehicle.
“His statement also exposes the true nature of his ‘free education’ scam: not all will benefit; instead of guaranteeing the right of every child to education, he dangles it around every time there is opposition to his fanatical dictatorship,” the Representative said.
“As if education is free in UP and other state universities; many students continue to suffer from skyrocketing costs of tuition and other school fees, causing growing discontent and rage among the youth,” she added.
Elago said that the administration should expect even more students to walk out of their classes “to fight Duterte’s dictatorship and tyrannical attacks on the youth and the people.”
Duterte earlier threatened the protesting students that he would give their slots to “deserving” cultural minorities from Mindanao. His warning came after several UP students skipped their classes to take part in the National Day of Walkout and Protest for Democracy.
“Those who don’t want to go to school, get out because I will bring the bright lumads there, I will enroll them there in UP. A lot of Filipinos want a good education,” the President said.
Elago said the Chief Executive’s “knee-jerk” reaction only shows that the youth has successfully registered their indignation against his “anti-people policies and increasing fascist inclination.”
“Duterte can only shake at the growing resistance to his attacks on the youth,” she stressed.