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The #UPWalkout is your concern, too

#UPWalkout is the current hashtag making rounds on social media. But don’t think this is a matter concerning students from the University of the Philippines (UP) alone. In this nationwide campus walkout, they want to protect student freedom—including yours.

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Police and military presence have always been unwelcome on campuses. In case you didn’t know, schools have always been demilitarized zones. But after Sen. Ronald dela Rosa’s fear-mongering and claims of activist groups brainwashing students—that might change. 

“Campus militarization is equivalent to martial law in our university and we shall not let that happen.”

Just last week, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) students fought off military presence on campus grounds after students were subjected to an unapproved mandatory drug test. And in order to protect the Soto-Enrile agreement prohibiting military presence on campus, UP students and teachers across the nation are fighting back.

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Based on numerous placards at today’s walkout, this fight goes beyond campus militarization. Other concerns such as Lumad killings, state fascism, junking K-12, political persecution, and many more pressing matters were also raised by protestors.

“Campus militarization is equivalent to martial law in our university and we shall not let that happen,” UP student regent John Isaac Punzalan stated in a memorandum. “Our academic freedom is at high risk of being taken away from us as we become vulnerable to baseless accusations, intimidation, and harassment.” In a way, aren’t these symptoms of Martial Law?

In this safe space, military presence robs these opportunities from us.

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Back then, it was a dangerous time to be a student—let alone a student activist. During 1972 ‘til 1986, 70,000 people were detained, punished, tortured, or murdered. This includes young student activists like 19-year-old Della Cortez, 23-year-old student journalist Liliosa Hilao, and 21-year-old former Pisay scholar Cecilio Reyes, among others. Military intrusion contributed heavily to these casualties.

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Today’s UP Walkout is a nationwide fight for academic freedom. If we don’t take a stand now, what will happen to everyday student life? Campus living is a breeding ground for critical minds to flourish. In this safe space, military presence robs these opportunities from us. They’re already suspicious of student’s every thought and action.

Rallying is important because just as much as the government should keep the country in check, its citizens should do the same for people in power. If we continue to let baseless militarization and unjust violations of the constitution continue, then we’re well on the path towards a dictatorship.

We need to keep our democracy alive—and the students of UP and PUP know that.

Photo from Inquirer.net

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