The students calling for an academic strike should not have any consequences, more than 700 graduates of the University of Ateneo de Manila said in a statement in support of the grassroots protest against the national government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the recent typhoon attacks.
The school’s official student paper, The GUIDON, announced this new development. The declaration has a total of 783 signatories as of this writing. Even the spontaneous invitation to a mass student strike raised the very real possibility of a revolutionary moment. The idea of spreading like wildfire to campuses across Metro Manila and beyond Ateneo tells us that the spark for change will come from unlikely locations.
It has pervaded national discourse since the student strike was first publicized last Saturday, evoking an outburst from President Rodrigo Duterte and snide remarks from his spokesman, Harry Roque. In view of this, During a televised address, Duterte threatened to defund the University of the Philippines, further accusing them of doing nothing but hiring Communists, wrongly naming the school from which the call for a strike originated.
Roque called the students “loko loko” during the same televised meeting after informing them recently that if they withheld their criteria, they would flunk their subjects. Consequently, Ateneo alumni shared in their declaration that they reject the misrepresentation of the strike as a tantrum or as a dismissal of the importance of education. In fact, Ateneo alumni recommended a no-repercussion policy for students involved in the strike in favor of the student petitioners. They also called on teachers from Ateneo to show utmost understanding to strikers and renounce any student penalization.
In light of a deadly pandemic and the wreckage caused by the recent typhoons, they also echoed student demands for the national government to either act or step down. The Alumni intensely sponsored the appeal of students to the Ateneo administration to condemn the unjust and inhumane pandemic and typhoon response by the government.