FEU takes a stand, holds classes on Martial Law anniversary

FEU takes a stand, holds classes on Martial Law anniversary
(UPDATED) Though not covered by the President's order to public schools not to hold classes, FEU declares it is holding classes. 'To safeguard our rights and freedoms, today we have to take a stand', FEU President Michael Alba says.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Far Eastern University (FEU) took a stand on Thursday, September 21, and held classes to mark the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier ordered the suspension of classes in public schools and government offices.

Though not covered by the President’s order, the private university said it was refusing to call off classes because “we refuse to consider September 21 as anything but just another ordinary day. We refuse to call off classes, because to do so is to lend importance to martial law – to honor and celebrate that dark period of tyranny and oppression in our history – whatever other reasons may be marshalled to justify not having a school day.”

In a statement, FEU President Michael Alba said, “Allow me to explain briefly why FEU opted not to call off classes today. It is because September 21 is a day of infamy, a day of national shame.” 

Alba noted that Filipinos lost the freedoms – the right to life, liberty, and own property as well as to all be equally protected by our laws – when Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972.

Amnesty International (AI) has estimated that during Martial Law, 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed. The AI mission, which visited the Philippines from November to December 1975, found that 71 of the 107 prisoners interviewed alleged that they had been tortured. (WATCH: ‘Lucky day’: Surviving torture during martial law)

‘Take a stand’

Alba challenged the FEU community to take a stand as thousands held a national protest against the spate extrajudicial killings in the country.

“To safeguard our rights and freedoms, today we have to take a stand, we have to make a sacrifice,” Alba said.

Alba stressed the role of schools as the vanguard of the country’s democracy.

“This stand is about our core values – the Fortitude to make the necessary sacrifices, the Excellence to discern the right moral stance, the Uprightness to hold fast to what we hold most dear under the social contract of this Republic: our human rights and civil liberties.”

Other concerned FEU academic officials, teachers, staff, and students also appealed to the public to be “guardians of human rights in every democratic space available.”

They also urged “everyone to practice responsible citizenship by protecting, respecting, and fulfilling the rights of every human.”

Duterte’s war on drugs has already claimed at least 3,500 lives in police operations alone. Various reports by media and rights groups have put the number of drug-related deaths at around 12,000 deaths – including those allegedly killed by vigilantes. (READ: Things to know: Human rights in the Philippines).

On Thursday, thousands of students and teachers joined other groups that held protests to condemn the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration. (READ: What to expect on September 21)

Duterte suspended government work and classes in public schools on Thursday, September 21, and ironically declared it a “national day of protest.” – Rappler.com

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