MALACANANG on Wednesday clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte may have “somehow confused” University of the Philippines (UP) as the proponent of the planned “academic strike” instead of Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after Duterte, in a taped speech on Tuesday night, threatened to cut off funding for UP if their students refused to attend their classes.
“I think, somehow confused the proponents of this academic strike. I explained it was the Ateneo students advocating for the academic strike but somehow, he also—well I think someone in that meeting said, ‘No, UP Manila also called for an academic strike.’ I was not sure about the accuracy of that statement so I kept quiet but I insisted it was not UP-Diliman,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
Roque, who used to teach in UP-Diliman, said Duterte’s message should have been addressed to ADMU students.
“That’s why the President also had something, a message to UP. But although I think the message should only have been addressed to Ateneo students,” he added.
He said UP students did not join ADMU’s call to withhold the submission of any school requirements to condemn the government’s response to recent typhoons and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic
“So as far as the threat to UP is concerned, I don’t think the UP students actually joined the Ateneans about the so-called academic strike but everyone knows now that as a result of a bill that we supported in the 17th Congress, that there is now free tuition in all state universities and colleges. And I think the message of the President is consistent – if you don’t want to study, then stop studying and we’ll use that funds elsewhere,” he said.
Roque, meanwhile, reiterated that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has decided to reject calls to ease university and college students’ academic load.
“The latest guidance from the CHED is classes could be extended momentarily. Universities can suspend classes to enable the students to go back to their normal lives but as result of a class suspension, classes would have to be extended for the semester. So an academic freeze is out of the question,” he said.
Besides ADMU, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, and Polytechnic University of the Philippines, have suspended classes for at least a week following the destruction brought by typhoons.
Education Undersecretary Tonisito Umali said the department would not issue an “academic ease” as no country has suspended its reopening of classes.
Umali also noted that universities and colleges have not been strict with deadlines. Philippine News Agency