We, the members of CONTEND-UP, strongly condemn the arrest of the two UP Visayas faculty, UPV Literature instructor Erick Aguilar and history instructor Gretchen Velarde, who protested with the students against the UP budget cut in Iloilo on September 24, 2015. According to SAMASA Party Alliance, “while the students and faculty members were exercising their rights to free speech and expression they were cornered and harassed by anti-riot police of the City Government. They were pushed to the sides of the streets to the doors of some establishments. Still barricaded by the police, one of the faculty members was harassed while the students were left psychologically traumatized. The teachers who negotiated with the police sacrificed themselves so that the students who were detained will be set free. While the students were on their way back to UP Iloilo City Campus, policemen still followed. During the program held in UP grounds, police forces were still stationed outside the gates of the university.”
We are appalled that the current US-Aquino regime would allow its fascist police to harass and arrest our fellow UP faculty who were simply fighting for greater state subsidy for UP. Their intolerance clearly points to the barbarism of our repressive state apparatuses. Instead of arresting those who are peddling our national patrimony and natural resources to foreign investors in the APEC meeting, the police chose to seize citizens who were simply asserting their right to education. Instead of stopping those who are killing the Lumad and their volunteer teachers, the police are shielding the regime from the people’s rightful demands for a democratic system of education. Instead of standing for the rights of our teachers and indigenous people, the spate of Lumad killings in Mindanao and the militarization of indigenous schools show how the state enforces its repressive policies by implementing policies that are corrosive of academic freedom and the flourishing of culture of critical learning.
Indeed, in the purview of a fascist regime, to assert rights and academic freedom is considered dangerous. To teach the indigenous people is being subversive. To resist repression is offensive.
It is only right and just that UP community should rise against the Php2.2 budget cut, for even without the budget cut, the budget for state colleges and universities remains wretchedly insufficient. The national university should seek and ask for greater government subsidy, to assert the people’s right to education and to resist the commercialization and privatization of UP’s “idle assets” to substitute for state support. We must be vigilant, for the rhetoric of neoliberal policies are hawked with an almost religious intensity as they mystify the real impacts of neoliberalism upon our people: the exclusion of poor students from access to higher education, the forcing of public schools to scramble for income generating projects, and the treatment of teachers as mere consumable items than as integral agents to the development of critical and nationalist scholars of the people. We must not fold and bow in silence. As faculty and educational workers, we cannot allow these repressive policies to be implemented in our University and our educational system.
We therefore urge all fellow UP faculty, education workers, and students to support the UP community’s struggle for greater state subsidy and to reject all neoliberal policies that are rampaging and destroying the academic life of our University. We must defend our right to education and condemn acts of repression against our noble pursuits of social justice, genuine democracy, and state accountability.
As teachers and educational workers, we are not deterred by the atrocities of the police. Let us raise our voices in denouncing the arrest of our fellow faculty. Let us continue to protest and organize. Let us join other patriotic groups of our society to resist and stem the tide of the neoliberal assault, not only on our economy but also against our educational system. As educators, we cannot remain aloof and isolated from the daily sufferings that grind our people to slow and painful deaths by robbing them of their hopes and future.
As educators, dream together with our people of a better future, a future that is free from the menace of the neoliberal nightmare, a society that prioritizes and guarantees free education for all, where our national patrimony is owned by the people and utilized for the people. As teachers, we are partisans for truth and justice and the public good. As public intellectuals, we will never allow ourselves to be used as the mouthpiece of the government and the military forces. We will not sell ourselves to the interest of foreign capitalists and big bourgeois compradors. We refuse to be part of a system that wantonly tramples on the human rights of our people.
Therefore, CONTEND-UP enjoins all faculty and education workers: we have the duty to stand united to expose and oppose all policies that are a menace to our education and academic freedom. Not to fulfill this historic duty is a failure, not only of UP education, but of our moral conscience.
Condemn the harassment of educational workers!
Stop state impunity and human rights violations!
Fight for greater state subsidy!
Fight for free education for all!
Down with imperialism!
Down with feudalism!
Down with fascism!