At least 500 students of the Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) called for a nationwide academic strike and demanded accountability from the Duterte government for its “criminal negligence” linked to the recent typhoons and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Urging other Filipino youth to stand with them in solidarity, the students, in a manifesto, said: “We do not strike as a way to exempt ourselves from the academic life, for it is precisely to fight to return its value. While this is a movement for the students, it is our hope that other communities heed our call.”

“As we fight for our right to an academic life, we invite all those who want to see it flourish again to join us. We invite our fellow youth nationwide. Together, in our collective action, we strike not just for our education, but also for a country we can be proud of,” the manifesto read.

“The disastrous effects of the typhoon resulted from the government’s lack of urgency in handling the situations, limited calamity, and research funds, and little to no media coverage. Had the government responded quickly, we could have prevented such a number of casualties,” it added.

The group of Atenean protesters demanded the national government to implement an academic break, which includes extending deadlines and giving a passing mark to all students, retain financial assistance to students in need, ensure the salaries of teaching and non-teaching personnel while on strike, end the “no work, no pay” policy on a nationwide scale, ensure greater access to electricity and internet nationwide, provide subsidies to teachers, students, and families for distance learning.

The students also demanded the government to provide free mass testing for all Filipinos, implement a clear pandemic response, prepare a clear COVID-19 vaccine strategy, make a “medically-informed” response to the pandemic, and extend livelihood assistance for those who lost their jobs.

They also urged the Duterte administration to declare “climate emergency” in response to the onslaught of natural disasters, resource shortages, and destabilization of the environment due to calamities “worsened by the government’s refusal to learn from the mistakes of the previous natural disasters.”

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