Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago claimed that joining rallies were required and gives them an additional grade back when she was still a student.
Pialago, who is also the spokesperson for the NTF-ELCAC Youth Affairs, expressed this during an event with officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which was live-streamed on Facebook on July 5.
She shared that she graduated with a degree in AB Communication at Miriam College.
“I have to admit nung mga panahon po na yun, ang pagsali ho sa mga rally, very present din po ako diyan. Honestly speaking po kasi, pag estudyante ka, ang pagsali kasi sa rally, minsan, dagdag points yun sa klase. Totoo, totoo. Kasama yung sa requirement,” the spokesperson said around 35:50:00-minute mark of the livestream.
Pialago also recalled that the first rally she attended was about Jun Lozada, the whistleblower of the allegedly anomalous NBN-ZTE deal who was convicted of graft in 2016.
Despite joining these street demonstrations, the MMDA official said she never encountered any leftist organization back then.
She claimed she had friends whose perceptions changed after watching a certain video, the official said.
“Meron po akong mga kaibigan po na may papanooring video, pag labas nila, galit na sila. Di ko alam kung ‘yun ‘yun ‘no, yung doktrinang ganon,” she said.
Pialago later noted that she understood the fervor of the youth back then.
“Yung paghahanap ng katotohanan, andun pag bata ka pa. ‘Pag bata ka pa kasi mapusok ka, malakas ka, matapang ka. Marami kang oras e. So yung pagiging idealistic mo, andun,” she said.
Some alumni of Miriam College later took notice of Pialago’s remarks about receiving additional “points” in joining rallies.
They countered her claims, saying they never experienced such requirements back then.
“I am a graduate of Miriam College, and I was never made to attend a rally to earn merit. What advocacies we have and what we stand for are learned through comprehensive lessons applied to real-world situations, not shoved down our throats by professors. Shame on you, Celine,” one Twitter user said.
“Nakakahiya ka. I’m also an [alumna] of Miriam College. I also joined rallies but they were never a requirement. They were of free will and in what we believed in,” another Twitter user said.
“I am also a graduate of Miriam College. Anong REQUIRED to join rallies for [points] yang sinasabi mo?? Tingin mo walang mag rereklamong knoller if i-require mo syang ibilad sa araw at paglakarin ng malayo? I’m sure nag reklamo na batchmates ko from AB Comm if may ganyan!” another online user commented.
Some graduates of other universities also echoed the same view.
Journalist Atom Araullo quipped about not getting the additional points.
“Parang di naman ako nakakuha ng ‘dagdag points’ noon. Lugi ah, hehe. STL, mahirap mangumbinse ng mga estudyante na sumama sa rally kung di sila sangayon sa issue. Tatambay na lang sila sa Sunken Garden o Casa,” Araullo wrote.
Former journalist Steve Dailisan and physician also made jokes about the supposed additional grades.
“Parang wala nga ring dagdag points ito before. Minsan i-mark ka pa as absent. Hehe!” Dailisan said.
“Dadami pa sigurong laude kung dagdag points lol,” doctor Jai Cabajar said in jest.
Others even recalled being marked absent for attending street protests.
“Hindi rin required sa UST (College of Pharmacy, Med. Tech and Biochemistry) I’m among 1st batch of NAMFREL volunteers, too,” another user said.
“Never happened to me in UP. Marked as absent kaagad hahaha. Unless the professor joins the rally too,” another user said.
Philip Jamilla, public information officer of rights group Karapatan, on the other hand, stressed that joining rallies is not required, citing that his university “is notorious for cracking down on student activists.”
I don’t think teachers encouraging students to attend rallies (and giving them incentives) is a problem—but if you treat them as mere means to get incentives, that’s on you. Other activists started out that way too, but they valued the things they learned in rallies.
— Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) July 7, 2021