Nineteen students of Jose Rizal University (JRU) in Mandaluyong were suspended after organizing a snake rally on the afternoon of July 17. These students are dismayed over the “blatant campus repression.”
BY JEFFREY OCAMPO
Vol. VIII, No. 29, August 24-30, 2008
Nineteen students from Jose Rizal University (JRU) who organized a snake rally within the campus premises in the afternoon of July 17 were suspended after the activity. The students, who are mostly members of militant youth organizations Anakbayan, Student Christian Movement (SCM) and Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (Karatula or Young Artists for Genuine Freedom), said that the snake rally was part of their campaign against oil price hikes, and the Reformed Value-Added Tax and in support of the workers’ demand for a legislated P125 wage increase.
According to John Louie Galang, a fourth year Marketing student from the College of Commercial Science, more than 10 university security personnel seized them after Maria Luisa Saba, Dean of Student Affairs, ordered them to take the students to her office. Galang said they were “scolded” and threatened by Manny Quiambao of JRU’s Law School who said that there had been no case filed by a student against the administration of a private school that has won in court. The students were then meted with “preventive suspension”.
A day after the incident, Anakbayan, SCM and Karatula, along with JRU students, organized a QRT (quick reaction team) to condemn the “blatant campus repression” experienced by the students. They said it is the students’ right to hold such activities so that they can air out their concerns. They also said other schools and universities are employing similar “repressive measures” to quell students’ protests.
A hearing to determine the disciplinary action to be meted on the students was conducted on July 23 after the suspended students and their parents received written notices from the university’s administration. In that hearing, they were presented with photographs that show protest actions and other activities in which the suspended students were seen participating in. They were asked to explain in writing why they should not be punished for their “offenses”.
After more than a week, the decision was announced. Fifteen of the suspended students were allowed to go back to school. The penalty for the other four students, including Galang, Kester Ray Santos, Danica Dimayacyac and Michael Anthony Dantes was “forced transfer”. The administration cited that these four students have been in protest actions within and outside the campus frequently.
Meanwhile, Jason Orioste, a fourth year Accounting student and one of the suspended students, explained that he joined the snake rally last July 17 as well as other protest actions because he himself is experiencing the hardships that the country’s economic crisis is causing. He complains that the fare hikes have been affecting JRU students since a considerable number of its population comes from places far from their campus. He also said that the continuous increase in the prices of basic commodities, caused by imposition of R-VAT, is making the life of students harder. His mother, Felisitas Orioste, has become sympathetic to their actions. Though she used to advice Orioste to stop joining protest actions, she later pledged support to her son’s cause.
Galang said that their fight would continue. He said that their victory, as manifested in the reinstatement of the 15 students, vindicated their action and would pave the way for a more democratic system within the university.
Julius Matibag, the lawyer for the students said that he is currently preparing to file a case in court in behalf of the students. (Bulatlat.com)