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UP Visayas community condemns threats against students after viral cheer routine

The University of the Philippines Visayas' Student Council and other student organizations over the weekend said they "strongly condemn" the harassment received by UPV organization the Skimmers after their cheer critical of the Duterte administration's policies went viral.

"With the increased instances of red-tagging by this oppressive state whenever the University raises awareness and action on societal issues, we will not and will never tolerate any kind of harassment or unjust behavior towards our constituents, whether we are facing a single troll or the whole Duterte administration. We won’t let this go unanswered," the groups said in a statement.

The Skimmers became the target of online threats and harassment by pro-Duterte groups after their cheer, which highlighted social and political issues, went viral on social media last week.

The group showcased a cheer routine that criticized the Duterte administration and tackled issues such as media oppression and repression; the "red-tagging" of students and schools; the administration's policy towards China regarding the West Philippine Sea; and the Rice Tariffication Law.

The group's performance also pointed out the Commission on Higher Education's (CHED) memorandum that removed Filipino, Panitikan and the Philippine Constitution as core subjects in college, and the government's call for mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

With this routine, the Skimmers defeated 10 other UPV organizations in the annual cheering competition.

A video of the group's performance was uploaded on social media on Friday and became viral as different pages singled out a line in the cheer condemning the Duterte administration's failure to stand up to China regarding the issue of the West Philippine Sea.

The satirical line did not sit well with pro-Duterte groups as they took their threats to social media and launched different attacks against the performers. These pages even went as far as publicizing some of the members' personal information.

The attacks amplified after blogger Mocha Uson—now Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) deputy administrator—shared a snippet of the Skimmers' performance on her blog with the caption, “Let’s kill the President daw? Yan na ba talaga ang tinuturo nila sa University of the Philippines ngayon?”

In response to the attacks on the students, the hashtags #HandsOffSkimmers and #HandsOffUPV started trending on social media.

For years, the annual UPV cheering competition has served as a creative protest where students can point out political and social issues from the university administration all the way to the national and global scales. — Ma. Angelica Garcia/BM, GMA News