To mark the 44th anniversary of Martial Law and to call to mind the atrocities it had inflicted on its victims, thousands of youth and students from across the country joined street protests as part of the “Youth Action Day for Education, Peace, and Human Rights.”
In a news release on Wednesday, Militant youth group Anakbayan said that thousands of university students walked out of their classes to join the protest actions.
Students from various universities in Metro Manila, Baguio City, Pampanga, Laguna, Cebu, Iloilo, Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and other major regional centers walk out of their classes to press their demands for free education, peace talks, and respect for human rights.
“We are here in the streets to urge President Rodrigo Duterte to bring his promised 'change' to the education sector by taking decisive actions against tuition hikes...,” Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said in the statement.
Among Metro Manila campuses that held walkouts were the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) main campus in Sta. Mesa, UP Diliman, UP Manila, as well as several private schools in the University Belt in Manila.
The protest action includes a caravan, with the assembly point at the University of Santo Tomas area, which was set to proceed to historic Mendiola Bridge near the Malacañan Palace.
Anakbayan condemned the Marcos dictatorship not only for its corruption and human rights violations but also for initiating the deregulation of the education sector resulting in a 5,000-7,000% hike in tuition from P700-P2,600 a semester in 1982 to P40,000-80,000 this year.
Earlier in the day, Malacañang said that President Duterte encouraged activities to mark the event as long as the protesters won't cause inconvenience to the public.
"We understand some groups would mark the anniversary through public assembly," Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.
"The President encourages various activities to commemorate the occasion as long as they are peaceful and no public inconvenience or destruction of properties may ensue," he added.
Andanar, meanwhile, reminded that September 21 is a regular working day. — LBG, GMA News