THOUSANDS of students from various colleges and universities across the country walked out of their classes on Friday in a massive show of nationwide outrage against President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s attempt to cover up his involvement in the Mamasapano operation.
In Metro Manila, students from the University of the Philippines (Manila and Diliman campuses), the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the Philippine Normal University led the opening salvo of the day-long protests, with UP, PUP and PNU students staging simultaneous class walkouts, snake rallies and flash dances around 12 noon.
“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,” Mico Pangalangan, Youth Act Now spokesman, said.
Students of private universities also joined in the protests, voicing out their concern not only about the Mamasapano operation but also with the Aquino government’s “lackadaisical” approach to impending tuition hikes.
Noise barrages and class walkouts were held at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), De La Salle University-Manila, University of the East, University of Manila, National University and the National Teachers’ College.
“Students are joining in today’s nationwide walkout for two reasons: first, to call on the President to resign from his post as he no longer has the moral ascendancy to rule the nation. Second, to protest against the Aquino administration’s continued policy of education deregulation, which is the root of incessant tuition and other fee increases that students face every year,” Sarah Elago, national president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines and convenor of the Rise For Education (R4E) Alliance, said.
R4E earlier reported that about 400 colleges and universities are set to increase school rates for the incoming school year.
Student protesters also joined ranks with other sectors of society in three mass-up points in Manila: Nagtahan Bridge, Taft Avenue and Finance Road and UST España Boulevard. From these points, the rallyists marched and converged at Mendiola Bridge, in effect literally encircling Malacañang Palace, official residence of the President of the Philippines.
“Today, we shall let the thunder of a thousand steps echo to the Palace’s gates. The youth and people want truth, justice, accountability and change. The movement for Aquino’s resignation is growing and the people’s call is getting louder,” Anakbayan chairman Vencer Crisostomo said.
“We no longer want a government ruled by a corrupt, liar, US puppet, haciendero brat. Game over [already], Noynoy. It’s time to step down,” he added.
Noynoy is the President’s nickname.
Youth and students also held protests in key cities and provinces, including Baguio, Pampanga, Laguna, Iloilo, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro City and Davao City.
“This nationwide class walkout is only the beginning of the end. Aquino’s days in Malacañang are numbered. In the coming weeks, we urge more Filipino youth to join the protests, and together, let us kick out of office this incompetent, callous, and murderous President,” Pangalangan said, adding that a transition council should replace Aquino and pave the way for justice and reforms.