Black parade for Kristel Tejada

Not everyone, however, is pleased with the outrage and the sudden surge of organized student action.

IN MOURNING: Mass protest at UP Manila as students mourn the death of student Kristel Tejada. Photo by Jigs Tenorio.

MANILA, Philippines – Organized on the heels of the furor over the death of University of the Philippines (UP) Manila student Kristel Tejada, a multisectoral alliance based in UP Diliman will parade in black on Friday, March 22, at the historic Mendiola in Manila.

The march will start at 4 pm from the front gate of the University of Santo Tomas in España and will end at Mendiola for a cultural night, featuring performances in memory of Kristel.

The alliance calls itself by its own chant, “Justice for Kristel! Save the Iskolar ng Bayan! Assert the right to education!” Consisting of mostly students, faculty groups, and staff at UP Diliman, it has activities scheduled in different UP campuses this week.

For Wednesday, March 20, students are calling for campus shutdowns and walkouts in state universities and colleges nationwide. In UP Diliman, they want students to wear black and to continue fighting against “repressive policies” and pushing for “accessible UP education.”

To express sympathy for the family of Tejada, students from Far Eastern University and University of the East organized a candlelight protest on Tuesday, March 19.

Beforehand, students from UP-Manila and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) walked out from classes in protest of UP-Manila’s “no late payment” policy.

The walk-out was done a day after some PUP students burned stacked-up chairs on the campus grounds in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

SUPPORT. PUP students pile up chairs to show sympathy for UP Manila students. Photo by Jannica Diaz

Not everyone on social media, however, was pleased with the display of public outrage and the sudden surge of organized student action: 

 

 

 


 

 

Long battle

In response to criticism over the use of Tejada’s death as a tool to drive their political agenda, UP System Student Regent Cleve Arguelles said they have always been fighting for the revocation of the Forced Leave of Absence (FLOA) policy even prior to the death of Kristel. He said the suicide incident only served to highlight their cause.

Bago pa man, yung call ng students, standing has always been there… Hindi natin gusto ito mangyari sa iba (Even before, the students’ call and our standing has always been there. We don’t want this to happen to others),” he said in a phone interview.

As of posting time, UP Manila’s “No Late Payment” policy has been suspended. The announcement was made by Chancellor Manuel Agulto Tuesday afternoon, March 19.

Meanwhile, diverse views on the case of Tejada proliferated online. Some acknowledged that something could have been done to prevent her death, regardless of the FLOA policy in place:

 

 

 

Inefficient system

On the other hand, there were others who said that what happened was a direct cause of an inefficient system: 

 

 

 

 

Looking to the future

There are also those who consider it tragic and who, moving forward, only want the best for “young hopefuls” like Tejada.

 

 

More student involvement

Despite criticisms in their method of lobbying, students continue to call for greater involvement in the organized action related to Kristel’s death.

 

 

 

On Thursday, the remains of Tejada will be in UP Manila for viewing of students and the rest of the UP community. Arrangements are being made to integrate Tejada’s funeral march with the black parade in Mendiola on Friday. – with a report by Ghio Ong/Rappler.com

 

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