By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
President Duterte on Thursday warned students from the University of the Philippines that he will give their slots to deserving Indigenous People or Lumads if they continue to walk out of their classes to join anti-government protests.
Hundreds of students from UP Diliman in Quezon City on Thursday participated in the National Day of Walkout against
Tyranny and Dictatorship by walking out of their classes in an attempt to “overthrow the US-Duterte regime.”
Duterte, in a speech at the Indigenous Peoples’ Leaders Summit in Davao City also on Thursday, noted how UP students frequently walk out of their classes even if the government was subsidizing their education.
“These UP students who keep on walking out, earlier, they walked out. Okay. Those who don’t want to go to school, get out because I will bring the bright Lumads there, I will enroll them there in UP. A lot of Filipinos want a good education,” Duterte said.
“So those who keep on demonstrating, don’t walk out of the rooms. I will give you a privilege, don’t go to school for a year because I will let all the Filipinos who want a good education in – it’s free there,” he added.
“UP? Gusto silang mag-walkout? I encourage them. You do not go to school anymore. Stay in the streets. Go ahead, I will get new ones. I will put them there. That’s the people’s money anyway,” he said.
Duterte added that he would also encourage Lumad students who are good in math to join the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City.
He also offered them opportunity to study in prestigious schools like the De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University, or the San Beda College at the expense of the government. “If you’re in Manila, if you want to study in my school San Beda, Ateneo, La Salle, just enroll, the government will pay for it,” he said.
Since assuming the presidency, Duterte has allowed all forms of demonstrations from different protest groups, even declaring holidays or suspension of classes, saying this is part of people’s right to free speech.
Last September, Duterte suspened public school classes and government work to give way to the National Day of Protest during the 45th anniversary of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos’ declaration of martial law.