UP magna cum laude, other students hold protest during graduation

Voltaire Tupaz
UP magna cum laude, other students hold protest during graduation
The chanting, though not part of the graduation rites, has been an annual tradition in UP introduced by activists during the Marcos regime

MANILA, Philippines – Iskolar ng Bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban! Edukasyon, karapatan ng mamamayan! (Fight, scholars of the nation! Education is a right of the people!)

Beata Carolino raised her clenched fist as she chanted with more than a hundred other graduates of the University of the Philippines Diliman shortly before the crowd sang the premiere state university’s poignant hymn UP Naming Mahal (The UP We Love).

Carolino, a magna cum laude graduate from the College of Mass Communication (CMC) marched on Sunday, June 28, with more than 4,400 others during the university’s 104th graduation ceremonies. She said she saw at least 10 other fellow honor students who joined the protest action which they called a “lightning rally.”

Twenty-nine students graduated summa cum laude, 248 finished magna cum laude, and 920 graduated cum laude in UP this school year.

The audio was cut off when a graduating University Student Council (USC) member started to lead the chanting on the stage, Carolina said.

The protest action during the graduation ceremony has been widely conducted by graduating UP activists and their supporters since the turbulent Martial Law period.

“I’m saddened that it has become a tradition because it means that injustice and dissatisfaction persist,” Carolina told Rappler.

‘Stop K to12’

This year, the protesters particularly called for the scrapping of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 which added two years to the country’s basic education system. (INFOGRAPHIC: 10 things about K to 12)

According to Carolino, it was a loud and clear message for the keynote speaker, Department of Education Secretary Armin A Luistro, whose agency implements the reform program also known as K to 12. (READ: Suspend K to 12? But PH ready for it – Luistro)

Critics of the controversial program, including Carolino, claim it will deny thousands of young people the opportunity to study.

“While there are students who are graduating, more young people can only dream of entering school because education is getting inaccessible,” Carolino said.

Higher education institutions (HEIs) expect a drop in enrollment during these two years all the way to school year 2021-2022 when things are expected to normalize. (READ: Expect higher dropout rates due to K to 12)

“Between one to 1.2 million K to 12 senior high school students will be forced to enrol in private schools because they cannot be accommodated in public high schools,” said Ben Te, chairperson of the militant League of Filipino Students (LFS) chapter in UP Diliman.  

“This is a violation of the Filipino youth’s constitutionally guaranteed right to free public education. K-12 means more tuition and other fee increases in the coming years,” Te added.

To date, the Department of Education (DepEd) has identified 5,899 public schools that will offer senior high school in 2016. At least 3,839 have already been submitted to the budget department and public works department for fund release, bidding, and construction. – Rappler.com

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