Students staged a walkout or national day of action on February 23, 2o18 as they decry the continuing deterioration of democratic rights. They vowed to defend our cherished freedoms against any attack or suppression.
In the Unity Statement on the Declaration of Walkout, student councils, publications, formations and individuals cited the following issues.
1. We will defend the freedom of the press and vow to oppose schemes to limit spaces for the free flow of information and criticism. We denounce moves to close media outlets that have exposed the errors of the incumbent regime.
2. We will oppose the use of laws to allow the baring of our economy to foreign intervention and control. We stand that the Constitution must not be bastardized by the powerful few for their own agenda.
3. We will protect the right of the people to assert their legitimate demands such as employment, housing, education, and other basic social services. We will uphold the right to assemble and organize in pursuit of those demands.
4. We will launch more massive nationwide protests and walkouts on February 23 to block efforts to establish one-man rule in the country and never allow dictatorship to reign once more. We will show that the youth will not sit idly amidst the outright tyrannical rule in the Philippines.
As a student leader forty years ago, the issues are similar, as students continue to fight for their freedoms. I was a witness to these students participating in the #walkoutPH protests over various issues including the anti-poor tax reform law; bogus free education law and impending tuition fee hikes ; attacks on press freedom ; unabated killings under the war on drugs and crackdown on progressives ; Duterte ‘s maneuvers to install a full-blown dictatorship through Charter Change and martial law in Mindanao.
In UP Diliman, students were joined by jeepney drivers who halted operations and vendors who closed stores for the protest, effectively putting the university in a “shutdown”.
The jeepeny drivers shouted “jeepney phaseout in Duterte, ibasura!”
Most of the students raised placards denouncing Duterte for sowing terror through his campaigns like the all-out war on drug, crackdown against progressives and Oplan Tokhang; and tormenting ordinary citizens through his anti-poor policies such as the tax reform program. jeepney phaseout and corporization of public transport and free education .
Anakbayan in a statement said “Duterte is a coward. He avoids public rage against his anti-poor and corrupt regime while his minions rabidly defend him. Once and for all, we dare this delusional dictator to face the wrath of the people and address legitmate people’s concern hurled at him”.
Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity or LODI, addressed the youth, ” You’re justified and vindicated in your protests! To fight for country in the time of Duterte is an honor and a duty!”
The LODI statement added “Duterte is a certified bully, thug, fascist and dictator. He is the most negative example of democratic leadership since Ferdinand Marcos. He approved the killing of minors, youth and other innocent suspects in his drug war.
He wants to bomb Lumad schools. He prefers war over peace talks. Before, he put a bounty on every alleged drug addict killed; now he announces a bounty for every suspected communist guerilla killed. He seeks to destroy the lives of jeepney drivers.”
Watch student shout : “Never again, never again to Martial law”
LODI adds “But this bully Duterte is actually a coward: He allows China to invade our territory. He allows US troops to set up bases in Philippine camps, and let them meddle in Marawi. He gave tax cuts to the wealthy and perpetuates Endo to make Big Businesses happy. He coddles the worst trapos and most hated dynasties.
The students , raised these issues through their placards.
“Defend Press Freedom”
“End State Fascism”
“Junk the socialized tuition scam”
“Imperyalismo , salot sa mga kabataan at manggagawa”
“Sahod. itaas, Presyo ibaba”
Tonyo Cruz sends a reminder to everyone. “The Philippines and the youth will outlast and outlive Duterte. Also, we’ve defeated all past tyrants. Duterte is the cheapest and lowest quality tyrant thus far.”
The February 23 nationwide walkout affirms the roles of youth: fabulous champion of nationalism; hope of our country; and fearless foe of tyrants, traitors and oppressors. No wonder, Duterte is scared of the youth.