“Today’s youth are faced with a lose-lose situation, in which we are forced to choose between working to feed our families or to continue with our studies to eventually be able to work and supply for our families. Not everyone is lucky enough to pick the latter, especially with Duterte’s inutile response to the pandemic. No one should be forced to pick between starvation and education, as our constitution mandates for the accessibility for one’s sustainability,” says Regina Louelle Masacupan, editor in chief of the UP Mindanao student publication Himati,
DAVAO CITY – Student leaders from the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao are among those who signed an online petition calling for President Rodrigo Duterte’s resignation over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These student leaders, Bruce Mico Gamad, chairperson of the UP Mindanao student council, and Regina Louelle Masacupan, editor in chief of the UP Mindanao student publication Himati, told Davao Today the reason for their signing the petition is due to the struggles of the youth and Mindanao people in the pandemic.
Face to face classes in all school levels have been suspended since the start of the pandemic, as schools opted for online learning. But students in public schools have opted for modular learning due to either the lack of access to the Internet or adequate gadgets.
“Now that we are still learning remotely, there are many students that are left behind because of the lack of resources, and other problems beyond our control. If the COVID response and mass testing had been the government’s priority, we all wouldn’t suffer under this mode of education,” Gamad said.
Masacupan added that students are in the losing end because of this situation where their families are struggling economically.
“Today’s youth are faced with a lose-lose situation, in which we are forced to choose between working to feed our families or to continue with our studies to eventually be able to work and supply for our families. Not everyone is lucky enough to pick the latter, especially with Duterte’s inutile response to the pandemic. No one should be forced to pick between starvation and education, as our constitution mandates for the accessibility for one’s sustainability,” Masacupan said.
She also noted that the state of Mindanaoans in the pandemic, especially the disadvantaged, has only worsened.
“Walang lupa ang ating mga magsasaka, ang mga Lumad ay pinapalayas sa kanilang mga ancestral domain, walang maayos na healthcare system ang bansa marami ang naiipit at patuloy na iniipit sa laylayan, at binubusalan ang mga nananawagan para sa karapatan ng lahat, (The farmers have lost their land, the Lumad are being displaced from their ancestral domain, there is no proper healthcare system, people living in the fringes are burdened, and those who fight for the people are being muzzled)” she said.
These student leaders joined the online petition led by a group called Filipinos for Duterte’s Resignation that launched a signature campaign on the petition website change.org on April 15.
Initially signed by some 500 health professionals, lawyers, academe, journalists, religious, civic and youth leaders, the campaign has since gained over 65,000 signatures in a week.
The group’s manifesto slammed how Duterte shrugged off the COVID-19 pandemic by saying “Maliit na bagay ito (This is a small matter)” is “unforgiveable”.
“Over one year into the pandemic, the public health crisis has deepened. We have record numbers of daily infections, positivity rates and deaths. The public health system is at breaking point. Our economy is just as bad. Too many patients are dying without getting access to critical care. Millions have lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the lockdowns and restrictions — the longest and harshest in the world yet glaringly ineffective,” the group’s manifesto said.
The Philippines has recorded over 936,000 COVID-19 cases, with over 15,000 deaths. Until April 11, a recent surge in late March forced authorities to re-impose Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and four surrounding provinces.
The government has acquired a 430 billion peso budget and P752 billion in loans for its COVID response measures * (https://business.inquirer.net/321124/govt-borrowings-grants-for-covid-19-response-hit-15-5b) yet it has failed to curb the rise of cases and vaccine rollout has mostly relied on donations from China and the World Health Organization.
The group said the nation has a crisis in leadership, as Duterte “remains obsessed with the drug war, attacking his critics and ordering the deaths of those he considers his enemies.”
“We deserve and demand better. Our country is on the brink of disaster. At the time the nation needs him most, Duterte is a total failure as a leader. He must step down,” the petition reads.
Gamad said the call for resignation is a must for Filipinos.
“This form of calling out the government for its negligence, and abuses to the Filipino people especially the marginalized sectors of the society, is something we should all practice. The fight isn’t easy unless our call and advocacy is sustained, and there is continuous action to organize within our sectors,” Gamad said.duterte, UPMin