The performance of a group called Skimmers, students of Communication and Media Studies and Literature at UP Visayas, criticized the Duterte administration's policy on the West Philippine Sea.
Screen grab, YouTube/Ruperto Quitag
UP Visayas trusts its students are trained to 'fight their battles'
(Philstar.com) - October 23, 2019 - 4:26pm

MANILA, Philippines — University of the Philippines Visayas Chancellor Ricardo Babaran on Wednesday reiterated the unit's commitment to protecting its students, but admitted that that protection is limited to physical security on campus.

Babaran however said that the UP Visayas administration trusts its students are armed with critical minds to "fight their battles," including on social media.

In a statement on Wednesday, the university chancellor reiterated UP Visayas is committed to defending academic freedom and freedom of speech.

“[O]ur capacity for physical protection is limited within our campuses only and cannot extend beyond its boundaries, especially in the online world,” he explained.

A cheer routine by student organization Skimmers highlighted social issues and went viral over the weekend, prompting bloggers and social media users supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte to harass them online and to post private information about the org's officers, a practice sometimes referred to as "doxing" or "doxxing".

READ: UP Visayas students take stand after adults take line from cheer routine literally

The university student council and college student councils of UP Visayas released a unity statement supporting their fellow students amid online attacks.

"Because we have armed our students with critical minds to speak," Babaran said, "we trust them to fight their battles especially in social media wherever they are located in the social and political spectrum."

University urges discretion, sobriety

The university chancellor added that a memorandum was issued urging the students to exercise discretion and sobriety in social media.

Babaran also said that he hopes the issue would be put to rest as the Palace already said that the students were obviously just joking, and were probably imitating Duterte.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said last Monday: "Joke naman pala. Si presidente 'di ba nagsabi na siya ng 'kill.' Baka ginagaya lang nila si presidente," Panelo said.

(It was just a joke. The president also said 'kill' before. Maybe they were just imitating the president.)

Asked about Duterte supporters harassing and redtagging the UP Visayas students, Panelo said it was just a "natural reaction" for them.

"That's very natural reaction for supporters of the president... It's a free country. They can react, too," Panelo said. — Kristine Joy Patag

RELATED: UP Visayas denounces threats against students over critical cheer routine

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