Bored students with too much time on their hands

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - November 27, 2020 - 12:00am

A group of Ateneo students are calling for a nationwide academic strike. Their main grievance is not the usual staple of student protests such as high tuition fees. This time, their beef is something that affects a far greater number, and therefore more popular. They are taking government to task for what they say is a failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And for good measure, they are also protesting government response to the series of natural calamities that hit the country. The Ateneo students seem to enjoy the support of their university president, who said it is the right of students to hold their government accountable. It is not clear, though, how widespread the support is from the Filipino studentry.

At a different time, the call for a nationwide academic strike would probably gain traction from a studentry that would grab at any opportunity for any class interruption. Not this time. Students have virtually been laid off from classes by the pandemic. On resumption of classes, distance learning is, for all intents and purposes, still home quarantine.

An academic strike does not make so much difference from home quarantine. Of course the protesters can stop complying with the requirements. But who are they kidding? With no physical manifestation of a strike, any individual student can just pretend to strike and still do school work and no one will be the wiser.

But what have the Ateneo students eaten, stale quarantine food? The gripe that government failed in its response to the pandemic falls flat on the face of the fact that there is no standard or measure whatsoever of what a good, proper, and successful response is. For the truth of the matter is, there is no such standard or measure available. COVID-19 is a first-time pandemic.

For the Ateneo students to imply that there is such a measure or standard of success by which the Philippine response miserable failed in their eyes is to be brazenly dishonest mentally. It is to lie through the teeth. Or it is to be utterly ignorant. A protest gains credence only in its plausibility. Now that is a much simpler standard or measure. And the Ateneo strike cannot even level up to that, much less surmount it.

If the truth be told, if we are to be placed side by side with other countries of similar population and financial and technical capability, the Philippines would clearly be leagues ahead in its pandemic response as seen by verifiable figures. A fairer and more honest assessment by the Ateneo students would have made them so much prouder of our government response.

But then people with too much time in their hands will always be capable of seeing things where there is none. Besides, there is always a big kick out of always blaming the government, whether or not there is any plausible reason, sense or logic to do so. And of course the university president is always supportive of youthful energies directed somewhere else, so long as they do not involve the faculty, administration, and finances.

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