FEU urged to drop charges after insurgency accusations vs 3 students

November 8, 2022 - 11:16 AM
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Photo of a protest of several students from FEU on November 4, 2022 (Twitter/Anakbayan Morayta)

Three students from a private university may face dismissal for their attendance at a protest for the Martial Law anniversary last September 21.

Kabataan Partylist of the Far Eastern University (Kabataan-FEU) reported this incident on social media on October 28.

Kabataan-FEU said that the students were accused of committing insurgent and subversive acts, and “hazing and or recruitment or membership to fraternities, sororities, or other organizations not recognized by the university.”

It further stated that the school’s verdict for them is dismissal.

Calls to drop charges

In a separate statement on November 4, Kabataan-FEU called on the university administration to uphold academic freedom and drop the charges against the students.

“To subscribe and label justified forms of expression such as demonstrations as subversive and a call for insurgency is implicit red-tagging. Schools must be a safe space for exhibitions of dissent as it indicates critical thinking and is an essential part of learning,” it said.

The youth group also called for a review of the student handbook.

“Furthermore, we call for a review of the student handbook in order to repeal anti-student provisions that trample on the democratic rights of students. The University’s prestige is not measured by the silent decorum of students but by their excellence and bravery,” it said.

Anakbayan Morayta and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines later joined in solidarity on the call on FEU to drop the charges against the students.

“Universities like FEU are intended to be an empowering ground for students to be critical. Therefore, it should teach students how to think, do, and believe rather than what to think, do, and believe,” said Justine Keswani, spokesperson of Anakbayan Morayta, the local chapter of the militant youth group.

“As a university that claims to champion fortitude, excellence, and uprightness, FEU must allow, unabridged, the students to continue their studies. They must understand the academic freedom—not subversion or insurgency—that substantiates rallies and discussions,” CEGP said in a separate statement.

Anakbayan Morayta also posted on social media photos of a rally that some FEU had staged on November 4.

These students called on the university to “do better” on their policies. They also denounced the perceived “attack” on the three students for participating in a commemorative protest.

Timeline of events

Based on the timeline that it posted, on September 21, Kabataan-FEU reported that three students who participated in a Martial Law commemoration protest were escorted to FEU’s Office of the Student Discipline (OSD).

Kabataan-FEU noted that they were not given sufficient evidence about their offense.

“They were rushed to schedule a parent’s conference as they were threatened to get blocked for the second-semester enrollment if they do not immediately comply,” the group said.

“As per the OSD, they were ought to conduct a parents’ conference and intervention for the students before setting a verdict. However, they were not given a specific mode of intervention to be done by the OSD,” it added.

Moreover, Rosalie Cada, director of the OSD, also gave the order to find other students like them who participated in their commemorative demonstration.

By September 28, Kabataan-FEU said that the students’ identification cards were barred from all the buildings of the university.

It was only on October 4 when a lawyer named Willie Cubial informed them that they allegedly committed a grave offense, citing “acts of subversion and insurgency, such as unauthorized demonstrations, rallies.”

And it was on October 21, a month later, that Cubial bared the specific provisions of the FEU student handbook they have allegedly violated.

Kabataan-FEU stated that this took place during the parent conference of one of the students.

The OSD’s verdict on these violations is dismissal.

The group noted on the timeline that Cubial did not specify to the parent how the student committed the “acts of subversion and insurgency.”

Both the student and the parent also failed to negotiate the verdict, the group said.

The student was also not allowed to finish the semester.

On the other hand, there were concerns regarding the availability of parents of the other two students—one was an overseas Filipino worker and the other is from Iloilo.

Cubial, however, was persistent in telling them that their parents should be present during the conference, the post stated.

The latest entry on the timeline indicated that they managed to confirm schedules for conferences last week.

As of writing, there was no update about the matter.