Lasallians, Taft students decry campus militarization, Palestinian genocide in International Students’ Day protests

Lasallians and other Taft-based students voiced out their stances on matters within and beyond their universities during this year’s International Students’ Day.

Despite a visibly smaller crowd compared to last year’s International Students’ Day protests, the same causes were the screams of student activists from various Taft-based universities as they commemorated the event in their respective schools and merged to rally in front of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) last November 17.

Starting on campus

At DLSU, various events were organized by students who were civic youth group members. Anakbayan Vito Cruz (ABVC) staged a chalk art protest on a portion of the wall of Br. Bloemen Hall, allowing students to draw in graphics and slogans for various issues. A study circle on neoliberalism followed after the chalk protest.

La Salle Students for Human Rights and Democracy Convenor Kai Reyes, who facilitated the chalk protest and study circle, emphasized the significance of International Students’ Day in mobilizing the academic community against socio-political issues. 

“[Ang] kahalagahan ng International Students’ Day [ay] para tumindig ‘yung buong sangkaestudyantehan sa buong daigdig para maipakita ang kanilang puwersa at pagtutol doon sa mga ganitong mga atrocities at itampok ang mga panawagan ng mga estudyante,” Reyes said.

(The importance of International Students’ Day is for student bodies around the world to show their strength and opposition to these atrocities and amplify students’ calls.)

Following the circle, a short rally in front of St. La Salle Hall led by ABVC Chairperson Melanie Aquino called out prominent issues regarding academic freedom, exclaiming the killings and kidnappings of student activists and unequal access to education.

“This is the time for us to [have a] platform at ipakita sa mundo na there are so many issues sa mga kabataan. You want us to change the world pero ganito ginagawa niyo [sa amin]?” Aquino told The LaSallian in an interview.

(This is the time for us to have a platform and to show the world that there are so many issues affecting the youth. You want us to change the world, but this is how you treat us?) 

Halfway through the program, an individual inside his car was heard cursing and gesturing a middle finger at the rally-goers for their condemnation of the strikes done by the Israeli government.

One Taft

With police officers nearby, Lasallians gathered with students from the University of the Philippines Manila, the Philippine Normal University, and the Technological University of the Philippines at PGH to speak out against campus militarization, the defunding of state universities and colleges, and the US being a war machine.

The demonstration was opened by Kabataan Partylist Representative Raoul Manuel, who denounced the heightening campus militarization and the red-tagging of students by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Sumasang-ayon tayo sa rekomendasyon ng UN (United Nations) Special Rapporteur na dapat buwagin na ang NTF-ELCAC. Napapanahon na nanawagan din tayo sa ating kasamahan na mambabatas [na] tanggalan na ng pondo [ang] NTF-ELCAC,” Manuel said in reference to Ian Fry, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, who urged the government to end the task force for its human rights violations in a press conference last November 15

(We agree with the recommendation of the UN Special Rapporteur to abolish the NTF-ELCAC. It is time that we also called for our fellow legislators to withdraw the funds of NTF-ELCAC.)

While the same urgent calls were raised, the war in the Gaza Strip is an addition to this year’s protest. Reyes urged Lasallians to speak up against the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, likening the killings to the historical mass murder of students in then-Czechoslovakia that International Students’ Day originally commemorated.

Pinalalawak ng digmaang ito ang saklaw nito sa Pilipinas…Tulad ng mga estudyante sa Prague noong 1939, nasa kasaysayan ng Pamantasang De La Salle ang pagdanas nito ng opresyon ng estado,” Reyes asserted, slamming the Marcos administration for allowing the country to fall victim to the US war machine.

(This war’s scope extends to the Philippines…Just like the students in Prague in 1939, DLSU has a history of experiencing state oppression.)

In the legislature, Manuel shared with The LaSallian that multiple resolutions are set to be consolidated from representatives from the Bangsamoro and the Makabayan bloc calling for a ceasefire and the condemnation of civilian killings in Gaza and tackled in the House. 

Lance Ariel Bustos

By Lance Ariel Bustos

Nash Laroya

By Nash Laroya

Job Lozada

By Job Lozada

Leave a Reply