Thousands of youth and students walkout to reveal “true state of the nation”

lifted from: Anakbayan official website

A few days before President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), thousands of youth and students from University of the Philippines (UP), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), UP Manila, Rizal Technological University (RTU), and many other schools nationwide walked out of their classes and marched to Mendiola today to “reveal the true state of the youth and nation.”

With support from faculty and school administrators, the actions called on the Aquino administration to increase government budget for education, stop tuition increases and stop the skyrocketing of oil prices.

The “National Day of Unity and Action” was led by Anakbayan, National Union of Students of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Karatula, College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines and Kabataan Partylist.

The administrations of 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) under Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) also expressed their support for the action and in a unity statement said that “in preparation for the SONA and the budget talks following that, it is crucial that we revitalize our unity and collective action to call for a sufficient increase in the budget of public higher education.”

The budget for SUCs was reduced by government last year, triggering campus strikes and protests.

According to Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo, Aquino’s SONA will prove to be a “State of No Achievement” speech considering that he “failed to do anything meaningful” to address the education crisis, as rising drop outs due to budget cuts and tuition increases continue to plague the youth and students.

“The conditions of the Filipino youth have worsened after a year. The promise of change was clearly a farce. No real change has been instituted in terms of providing access to education and a decent future for the youth, we have instead seen budget cuts for education and social services to favor corruption, military and foreign debt spending,” he said.

Crisostomo said the protests ahead of the president’s SONA is a message that the youth and people have had “enough of papogi, pashowbiz, empty rhetorics and attempts at humor to cover-up for his lack of achievement and the anti-people, pro-business and landlord policies he’s implemented.”

“The real state of the nation: poor, hungry, and deprived of their basic rights and social services,” he said.

Also, highlights of the day of protest were “new” and “creative” actions. In UP Diliman, students held a “planking” protest, an activity popular in the internet with participants lying face down and posting their photos on the net. A flash dance to the tune of “Papa Amerikano”meanwhile was also featured in the rally program. Fighting the “Dark Arts” were protesters wearing Harry Potter costumes.

According to organizers, today’s protest is in preparation for bigger actions on July 25, the president’s SONA, where multi-sectoral groups are set to march to Batasang Pambansa. #


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