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PUP president denies 'repression' claims of student activists

Mabini Campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila. CC BY/Team Deremoe

MANILA, Philippines — The president of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines on Thursday denied the allegations thrown by student activists and organizations against him.

The state-run university's president Emmanuel de Guzman explained his side on the alleged "student repression" of students and denied each claim.

Among the concerns raised by the students were:

  • Student regent removed, replaced by admin-appointed representative
  • Admin closed down student offices and tambayans; took over campus publications
  • Mandatory ROTC for Senior High School Students, mandatory drug-testing
  • Implementation of "no overnight policy" to students
  • Student council elections suspended
  • New fees, mandatory uniform implemented
  • Police forces deployed in campus

READ: PUP activists slam alleged gov't attack on students' rights

De Guzman made the reaction after student activists and students claimed that  the students' rights in PUP are "under attack."

On the removal of student regent

De Guzman said he is not behind the supposed ouster of the former student regent, Karl Paulie Araneta, who was not enrolled for a year and was therefore ineligible for the post.

"It is not in the authority of the school to remove the student regent. It is determined by the process election by the federation of student council sa PUP," De Guzman said in a phone patch interview with ANC.

"They have their own process and autonomy," he added.

On the closing down of student offices and 'tambayans'

Addressing the allegations on the forced closing down of student offices, De Guzman said he ordered the rehabilitation of the student offices six months ago and the student leaders agreed with his order.

"They (offices) really needed rehabilitation but they agreed and I issued a memorandum," De Guzman said, adding that the offices were uninhabitable.

"They have to vacate them," he added.

De Guzman said that there is an accreditation process requiring student organizations to submit application forms before occupying the offices.

On the campus publication takeover

The university chief also denied that he is taking over student publications, having spoken with campus publications to clarify the issue. The student leaders earlier alleged De Guzman is taking over the campus organs to control funds, printing and distribution, among others.

"I am not taking over anything," De Guzman said.

"In fact, ‘The Catalyst,' the official publication of the university, is still there. They have been holding office," he said, adding that if the publication wants to release issues "they can do so."

On the presence of policemen in the campus

The president also denied the claims that there are police officers within the campus: "Not a single police man is in the university," he said.

On the ‘no overnight stay' policy

De Guzman admitted that he is not aware where the students are getting their allegations of student repression but he mentioned their complaints may have stemmed from his order to stop the "overnight stay in the campus."

"Because I removed them from a building that they have been illegally occupying for the last 6 months," the academic institution's president said.

"I ordered eviction but they refused," he added.

According to De Guzman, a number of parents wrote to him complaining that their children were no longer going home. He said some organizations invited senior high school Students to an isolated building which they use as their "private abode."

"I made the order that no one is allowed to stay overnight in the campus," De Guzman said.  

De Guzman said the students are "hell bent" on blaming the government for anything they could imagine.

Student activists and organizations then called for a nationwide campus protest against repression and fascism. The protests are scheduled on September 29 and October 6, respectively.

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