The Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP) strongly condemns the campaign against the Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) of different youth and student groups. This deceptively express their opposition to the Students’ Rights and Welfare Bill (STRAW Bill) proposed by Akbayan Party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros.
Number of student and youth groups simultaneously launched several campaigns against the STRAW Bill. For an instance, The Torch Publications, the Official Student Publication of the Philippine Normal University, published an article entitled “Beauty in Disguise: Paglalantad sa Mapanlinlang na Kagandahan ng STRAW Bill”. The article alleged that the bill is anti-student and that it endorses bureaucracy, instead of denouncing it. However, the article did not cite specific provisions to significantly validate their arguments.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Party-list (ACT Party-list) and other allied organizations also slammed the passage of the STRAW Bill.
Series of Technical Working Group (TWG) meetings were conducted before the recess of the Congress. The main purpose of these TWG meetings is to consolidate and consider necessary and essential amendments for the Magna Carta of the Students’ Bill (Consolidated version of Rep. Rodriguez’s and Rep. Lagman’s Students’ Magna Carta Bill and Rep. Hontiveros’ Students’ Rights and Welfare Bill). MASP actively participated in the TWG meetings to propose some amendments. However, representatives from different youth organizations and different sectors did not even see the presence of these Anti-STRAW Bill youth groups in the TWG meetings to propose their own amendments.
The first point is that if these Anti-STRAW Bill groups really wanted to propose such amendments specified by The Torch Publications, they should have attended these TWG meetings. The National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) was one of the Anti-STRAW Bill organizations. NUSP President Alvin Peters was present in the TWG meetings; however, he never said that NUSP is against the STRAW Bill. In fact, he even raised more cases that even validate the fact that the legislation of this students’ Magna Carta is really necessary.
The anti-STRAW Bill stand of NUSP is very contradicting to what they showed in the TWG meetings.
Second, the STRAW Bill was written by the students themselves. It is not true that it did not undergo consultations because before it was filed to the Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) in the House of Representatives, it has already undergone series of consultation processes.
Third, Kabataan Party-list did not attend the majority of these TWG meetings. If it is true that they actively participated in proposing their own amendments, they should have attended said TWG meetings.
Finally, the ‘loopholes’ as said by these Anti-STRAW Bill youth groups were already clarified and modified in the TWG meetings and these modifications are already subject for committee deliberation.
The STRAW Bill’s sole intention is to provide protection for the student sector against any form of discrimination and unfair treatment within the universities. It is the bill of the students, for the students and by the students. A students’ bill promoting their own rights and welfare being opposed by students’ group themselves is a mere manifestation of being an ‘anti-student’ group.
If these youth groups have their other agenda, they should take those agenda in the proper venues wherein they can talk about these matters. The immediate legislation of the STRAW Bill should not be compromised because of the delaying tactics of these self-serving groups.
The movement reaffirms that there is a need to legislate a piece of bill that will guarantee the sector’s right and welfare. There is a need to break the chain of campus repression. There is a need to democratize every campus and the education system as a whole. Education democratization is a requisite to radically reform our education system that is envisioned to be accessible, to be of quality and to be empowering to all.
MASP wants to reiterate that saying no to Students’ Rights and Welfare Bill (also known as the Magna Carta of the Students) is tantamount to saying no to upholding students’ rights and welfare and to education reform.
Therefore, MASP, along with the Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Coalition, will constantly campaign for the passage of the Magna Carta of the Students Bill and will strongly call to break the chain of campus repression and oppression. ●