Thursday, October 12, 2006

DOJ Sec. Gonzales, To Be an Iskolar ng Bayan Is To Serve the People Not GMA

The University Student Council of the University of the Philippines Manila condemns to the highest order the totally irresponsible statements of DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzales against the premier state university as a breeding ground of destabilizers and naked runners. Last year, he has already been rebuked by the Iskolars ng Bayan for uttering the same tirades against UP, and yet has persisted in insinuating those same statements against our esteemed university.

There is a need for Sec. Gonzales to retake his class in Philippine History for his utter ignorance on the sacrifices of the Iskolars ng Bayan for the restoration and development of democracy in the country for more than forty years. During the First Quarter Storm, if it were not for the marching Iskolars ng Bayan, fighting side by side with other marginalized sectors of society in those fateful days before Martial Law, how shall the people know that President Marcos would emerge as the despot and dictator that he would become for the next twenty years? Even during the darkest days of Martial Law, the Iskolars ng Bayan were at the forefront of the struggle against the dictatorship. They trooped to the slums, the countryside and the factories to empower the people to face the dictatorship head-on that climaxed in the Revolution in EDSA in 1986.

We need not look that far in our history to know that Iskolars ng Bayan struggle and fight for a worthy cause, unlike how Sec. Gonzales pictures the university. In 2001, tens of thousands Iskolars ng Bayan walked out of their classes and marched once again to EDSA at the height of the ouster of President Estrada over corruption charges. In these historic events of our nation’s democracy and in all other issues affecting education, the youth and the rights of the people, the Iskolars ng Bayan have remained true for the purpose of its existence – to serve the people, in all the selfless sacrifice that the Oblation represents, which Sec. Gonzales ridicules.

He ought to be reminded that the gratitude for the subsidized education of the Iskolar ng Bayan is not to the government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It is under this government that UP has suffered the biggest budget cuts in its entire history, where efforts to commercialize and privatize the university continue to threaten our education. More so, it is under this government that Iskolars ng Bayan doing academic work in the countryside are abducted and forcibly disappeared without a trace by suspected military agents. These are all gross violations of the Iskolars ng Bayan’s right to education and academic freedom, of which Sec. Gonzales is complicit to, for blindly defending an illegitimate president that has never stood for the rights of the Iskolars ng Bayan. With Sec. Gonzales’ pronouncements that UP is a haven of subversives, it is a tacit warning to the Iskolars ng Bayan that even students are now being profiled and subjected to surveillance operations by government security forces as are media entities critical of the government.

Contrary to what Sec. Gonzales claims, it is to the Filipino people that the Iskolars ng Bayan owe their education – through their taxes, their labor and their produce. It is to the Filipino people that the gratitude and allegiance of the Iskolar ng Bayan belong. It is they that the Iskolars ng Bayan truly serve.

The Iskolars ng Bayan are not cowering in fear with the veiled threats of Sec. Gonzales against the University of the People. Even if this means that the Iskolars ng Bayan would have to sacrifice once again against a repressive regime such as this in the defense of democracy we all so hold dear – we are game.

Iskolar ng Bayan, Ngayon ay Lumalaban!

Fight for Greater State Subsidy! No to UP Budget Cut and TFI!

Makibaka, Wag Matakot!

Oust Gloria Now!

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