By Bryan Ezra Gonzales
Photos by Demerie Dangla and Anjon Galauran, UP Aperture
Students from the University of the Philippines, along with administrators, faculty, staff and sectoral groups joined their counterparts from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and Miriam College (MC) Wednesday in the first endeavor of the Katipunan Kontra Korupsyon alliance against pork barrel.
A short program was held at Quezon Hall before the UP contingent left for Gate 1 of Miriam College along Katipunan Avenue, where Ateneo and Miriam students assembled.
The Katipunan Kontra Korupsyon program was hosted by Eduardo Gabral of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP, Daniel Remo of the Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila, and Erika Dumas of the Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng Miriam.
Representatives from the three universities expressed their sentiments against the pork barrel system and the involvement of several public officials in the recent pork barrel scam.
The reading of joint statements from the student alliance and from the university presidents highlighted the event.
“It is high time that we put an end to the culture of corruption and patronage politics, which are embedded in the governance of our country for a very, very long time,” Dumas said, as parts of the students’ statement was read by representatives from the three schools.
University presidents also called for the rechanneling of public funds to basic social services, and invited the community to participate in succeeding mass actions of the alliance to call for greater government accountability.
“We strongly urge our national leaders from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government to re-examine their use of discretion in the allocation and use of public funds, to probe into the deeper roots of the pork barrel scam, and to address in particular the culture of corruption that destroys ourselves and our communities, especially the poor,” said the joint statement of presidents Alfredo Pascual of UP, Jose Ramon Villarin SJ of ADMU, and Rosario Lapus of MC.
Activist Mae Paner, also known as Juana Change, praised the students for their awareness of the national issues and their active participation in the event.
“Ang bukas ay inyo ngayon (Today, the future is yours),” said Paner.
To support the alliance, the Ateneo Musikero, MC Company of One, and UP Repertory Company gave performances despite the rain.
The gathering left only one lane of Katipunan Avenue accessible to vehicles, but despite the heavy traffic, drivers honked their cars in support of the protest.
Student leaders estimated 900 people participated from UP, 200 from MC, and 100 to 150 from ADMU.
Talks for the alliance started last week after the three university presidents called on student leaders to organize a collective action against the recent P10-billion pork barrel scam.
A similar alliance was formed 10 years ago, when the three schools united against the 2003 Iraq War.