ACT backs students’ strike in universities, pledges to amp up calls for gov’t accountability

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines expressed support to the string of students’ strike in universities which seek to register their protest against the government’s ‘criminal negligence’ not only of education, but also of millions of families who fell victim to the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses–of which education stakeholders are part.

The group echoed students’ demand for state accountability as well as for the immediate prioritization of relief provision for victims of recent calamities.

“Students and teachers alike have been reeling from state abandonment of education, leading to them bearing the brunt of the ill-equipped distance learning. The government’s lack of adequate response to the recent calamaties only compounded the suffering of an already spent and beaten people amid the health and economic crises. Hence, the clamor for urgent action and accountability is only reasonable,” asserted ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

The teachers’ group further supported the strikes’ objective of unloading students who were either directly hit by the recent calamaties or wish to participate in relief efforts in light of the delay—or worse, the total lack—of aid from the national government.

Such, added ACT, will offer direly needed lessons, skills, and values to the youth who are vital agents of change and progress, while significantly augmenting support initiatives for the victims.

“Millions of Filipinos have been displaced, disenfranchised, and endangered—some even died—due to the disasters and crises plaguing our country. Equally, if not more, perilous is the utter incompetence and indifference of officials to our plight. But we’ve come to a turning point. We demand better from the Duterte regime, we demand what is due us,” declared Basilio.

To quell the rising unrest among constituents, the Duterte administration is challenged to respond to the urgent needs of the people. ACT detailed the following demands:

1. Swiftly carry out a national government-directed relief and rehab program for all the regions affected by recent typhoons, and attend to the most immediate needs of the people and ensure that nobody gets displaced further;

2. Pay Php50,000 reparation per family for damages to life and property due to criminal neglect of the government;

3. Conduct an independent investigation on the lack of preparedness and urgency, and hold officials accountable for the deaths, damage, and displacement caused by the calamities;

4. Revoke permits and halt the operations of quarrying/logging companies that compounded the effects of the calamities to the people, hold accountable the Magat dam administration, and put on hold all dam projects that are seen to cause adverse effects to surrounding communities; and

5. Ensure sufficient funding for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) and initiatives like Project Noah, and rechannel budget allocation for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to disaster response.

“The Duterte regime yet again brandished its gross abandonment of the people in the face of severe crises and calamities. For that, the state must face accountability,” concluded Basilio.