THROWBACK: 10 schools rally to resurgent protest movement

The list of supposedly 10 universities involved in the “Red October” plot, that the Duterte regime asserts its existence, has been released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. By doing so, it has rabidly red-tagged legal and democratic organizations in these schools. The list intends to quell the already growing unrest among the youth and students.

This act will not, in any way, cower the youth but rather fan their anger. Similar to the massive protests and boycotts during the Marcos’ martial rule, the youth will swell on the streets to protest the grave economic crisis and political persecution of the Duterte regime.

These mass demonstrations caused the downfall of the US-Marcos dictatorship. Is this why the Duterte regime shakes in fear?

In July 1977, almost 200,000 students from 10 colleges and universities mobilized in Metro Manila in a resurging protest movement to resolutely press the Marcos fascist regime to heed their just demands.

United under the banner of the Alyansa ng Mag-aaral Laban sa Pagtaas ng Tuition Fee (Students’ Alliance Against Tuition Fee Increases), the school youth served notice they would continue boycotting their classes as long as the Marcos government vacilllates on their demands.

Fifty student representatives from the different schools assailed the regime’s Department of Education and Culture and the school administrations for dilly-dallying on their demands. They formulated a set of demands, among them the following:

  1. Remove all troops and spies of the reactionary Armed Forces of the Philippines from the school campuses.
  2. Restore the student councils which are prohibited under martial law.
  3. Freeze all tuition fee increases.
  4. Roll back tuition fees to their previous levels and refund excess amounts collected by the schools.
  5. Conduct a thorough investigation into the harassment and intimidation of students by school administrations.
  6. Withdraw letters of school administrations threatening expulsion of student leaders.
  7. Stop the arrest and detention of students.

The Alyansa also demanded that the DEC stop authorizing tuition fee increases without prior consultations with the students concerned and their parents. It pointed out that while the regime had been freely granting every petition of the schools to jack up tuition fees, there had been no improvement in school facilities and the quality of education.

Mass walkouts in Metro Manila

The presentation of the demands to the Marcos government followed mass walkouts of students at the University of the Philippines, Araneta University Foundation, University of the East, Adamson University, Trinity College, Philippine College of Commerce, University of Santo Tomas, Philippine Women’s University, Feati University and Philipphine College of Criminology.

The resurgent student movement sprang up during the school registration period early last month. At the start, there were only a few scores of students at UP struggling against the arbitraty tuition fee hikes which were imposed in the guise of “democratizing” the state university.

The ranks of the protesting UP students swelled to thousands as classes were scheduled to get under way. Parents and teachers also were mobilized when the Marcos fascist regime unleashed the PC Metrocom at UP Diliman campus.

The movement soon spread to the privately owned colleges and universities where the students protested the 15 percent increase in tuition fees which the Marcos regime had been authorizing yearly since the imposition of martial law in 1972.

The students found unity and strength in the Alyansa. They distributed resolutions and manifestos, held mass meetings and cultural presentations, and launched walkouts and boycotts.

The mass movement reached a high point in the last three weeks when almost 200,000 students launched simultaneous boycotts in the 10 colleges and universities.

The Marcos regime’s response to the students was measured brutality.

At UE and UST, security guards under the command of the fascist AFP officers arrested and detained some protesting students and waited to see if this would scare of the others.

This inflamed the student ranks further and mobilized many more to join the Alyansa. It also fired the students to demand not just a rollback of tuition fees but the removal of all AFP soldiers and spies from the campuses.

At press time, while awaiting the government’s reply to their demands, the almost 200,000 students in the Alyansa were conducting mass work and further expanding and strengthening their ranks.##