MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan has endorsed the scheduled activities against attacks on press freedom and human rights on Friday, February 23, and on Saturday, February 24.
In a memo released on Thursday, February 22, Tan urged professors to excuse UP students who will join the consecutive activities scheduled on Friday and Saturday organized by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the Catholic Church, respectively.
“We need to encourage our students to participate in the activities as part of their education,” Tan said in his memo.
In commemoration of the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, the CEGP will hold a series of protest around the country on Friday, February 23. On February 24, the Catholic Church will hold the Walk for Life to oppose the drug war killings, the death penalty, and the looming resurgence of dictatorship in the Philippines.
Tan prefaced his memo by explaining how “cognitive dissonance” – a term he used to describe the current state of the Philippine society – may either lead the youth to apathy or attraction to extremism and populism in search for answers.
“Our young in particular are vexed by the sharp discrepancy between what we teach in schools about morality and democracy and by what they see in practice,” Tan said.
He added that the series of activities seek to draw attention to the different realities facing the nation related to issues on human rights, extrajudicial killings, Charter change, federalism, martial law in Mindanao, and the crisis in mass transport.
“I have participated in some of the activities and am disturbed, realizing that we live not only in an age of fake news but of silence, particulary in relation to human rights violations in Mindanao,” Tan said.
Fake news, one of the subjects of the protests, is a trend that threatens democratic institutions worldwide. (READ: Madeleine Albright says fakes news ‘damaging to democracy’)
Tan’s memo comes more than a week after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened UP students that he will give their slots to Lumad students if they continue engaging in walkouts and other protest activities.
Unfazed, several student groups promised to mobilize thousands of students to protest against the government’s “attacks against the people.” They also debunked the widely-held notion that there is a direct correlation between low grades or poor school performance and being an activist. (READ: UP student groups vow bigger protests vs Duterte gov’t)
While Tan asked members of the state university’s executive committe to excuse students, he also made sure that students do not use the activities as a reason to forget their academic responsibilities.
“At the same time, it must be made clear that they cannot be excused for missing exams and deadlines for reports,” he said in his memo. – Rappler.com