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MARAWI, Philippines – Hundreds of students took to the streets at the state-owned Mindanao State University (MSU) campus in Marawi City on Monday afternoon, December 11, to oppose the decision of the school administration to resume classes a week after a bomb exploded at their gymnasium, killing four and hurting several dozen others.
“Make MSU safe first. Huwag manhid (Don’t be insensitive),” students chanted as they marched towards the MSU administration office.
The December 3 explosion killed four Catholics and hurt six dozen others who were hearing Mass at the MSU’s Ali Dimaporo gym. Based on the updated list of the local disaster risk reduction management office, the number of those hurt rose to 72.
In a signed manifesto, communications and health student councils said a majority of MSU’s 14,000 students were still too scared to return to their classes a week after the bomb attack blamed on a terrorist group.
They petitioned for a shift in classes from in-person to online learning, similar to the setup implemented by the school during the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago.
“We believe that the transition will aid the University in its continued implementation of security measures within the campus and provide the students to recover from the shock, fear and stress caused by the recent horrific act of violence,” the manifesto read in part.
MSU President Basan Mapupuno, in his Memorandum No. 294 dated December 7, ordered the resumption of classes effective on Monday, December 11.
Mapupuno noted that 1,948 of the 14,855 students enrolled in MSU have left the campus after the bombing.
The MSU sent vehicles to Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, and Pagadian cities to fetch back the students last weekend, but only around 300 of them returned to the campus, according to lawyer Rashid Pandi, director of the MSU’s Presidential Management Staff.
Pandi and other school officials went down to meet the demonstrators in front of the MSU administration building to express solidarity with them.
He expressed sadness that the students had to rally when school classes would wind up for the Christmas break on December 22.
Pandi advised the students to avail themselves of a “special provision for debriefing and psychosocial intervention” if they are still afraid to attend “face-to-face” classes.
“They can even take their final examinations in January next year once they avail themselves of the special provision,” Pandi told reporters.
Pandi advised them to contact the university psychosocial service center and avail themselves of its services.
He said the final examinations would be postponed until January next year. – Rappler.com