Cavite State U students protest against repression, demand university official’s ouster
Report by Merck Maguddayao
Thirty-four students of the Cavite State University (CvSU) in Silang, Cavite who have been sued for libel by school administrators and the student council chair greeted the opening of the second semester with a mass protest against harassment, irregularities, and the deterioration of the educational system.
The students had earlier sent letters to President Rodrigo Duterte and CvSU president Hernando Robles demanding an investigation into the alleged irregularities and repressive measures carried out by Quintin Subong IV, an academic who holds several key positions, along with former Silang campus dean Dinah Espineli and student council president Kim Almeda.
Subong, Espineli, and Almeda subsequently filed libel and perjury suits against the students, three of whom are minors.
Among the issues raised by the students against Subong, Espineli, and Almeda are:
1. Purchase of the student council of a Toyota Innova for their private use.
2. Release of P300,000 from the student council fund for the construction of a student park even if CvSU had released P3 million in 2015 for the same project. Said student park is merely paved with gravel and has a non-operational fountain.
3. Questionable legitimacy of the incumbent student council for not having been proclaimed by the student electoral commission, as their claim for legitimacy came from Subong, who at that time was the office of student affairs head.
4. Verbal discrimination of LGBT students by Subong.
5. Collection of exorbitant fees, including an Internet fee even if the school has failed to provide Internet connection on campus.
6. Student council's illegal collection of student publication fee, in violation of the Campus Journalism Act.
7. Hiring of numerous incompetent teaching personnel, including a former mall saleslady who teaches Economics.
The students called for the immediate removal of Subong, the withdrawal of the libel case, and the holding of snap elections of the student council.
They sought the support of members of the socialist Partido Lakas ng Masa and workers’ group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)- Southern Tagalog.
Together with their parents and their lead counsel, Luke Espiritu, a member of BMP, they agreed to meet with CvSU president Robles.
Robles promised to convince Subong to drop the case, transfer Subong to another CvSU campus, and to hold a snap student council elections.
But Robles could not assure students that the libel case will be dropped, saying the CvSU administration has nothing to do with it since it is a "personal" case by Subong, Espineli, and Almeda.
Almeda, who attended the dialogue, demanded that students issue a public apology to him as condition for his withdrawal from the libel case. This was vehemently turned down by the students.
The students are now planning to hold more protest actions, organize teach-ins, and field candidates in the coming snap elections.