because as i try to wrap my head around this, the more urgent task has been to respond to what to me are the more unthinking and insensitive assertions about Kristel Tejada’s suicide, in relation to her unpaid tuition fees at the University of the Philippines Manila.
and because if there’s anything that is even sadder here, it’s that those who assert that this is no political issue, are those who fail to see that their mere articulation of such is the most useful assertion that this government can use in their political favor. yup, y’all are on the matuwid na daan. it’s got elitism and bourgeois ideology written all over it. you’ve also got blood on your hands.
one of the first posts i saw, re this suicide being more complex than just the issue of education were sadly from Pia Faustino:
very true. suicide is more complex, than say, not being able to pay for one’s tuition fees. but how much more complex does it need to be than poverty? how much more complex than having a father, laid-off his job, and becoming part-time taxi driver? how much more complex than thinking that graduating from the State U is the only hope for your family, impoverished and living in the bowels of Tondo Manila? how much more complex than pretending you are fine to classmates and teachers of the State U, an institution that has since ceased to care for its students who are really and truly in need?
how much more complex, Pia? how much more complex does it need to be?
you are no different from Patricia Licuanan, CHED chairperson, from the office responsible for UP’s 300% tuition fee increase, and the one that has failed tremendously at making sure that those who pass the UPCAT can and will be supported by the State U to actually enroll and stay enrolled, over and above their financial difficulties.
“I hesitate to get involved in the discussions at this point. The death of Kristel Tejada is a terrible tragedy,” Licuanan said.
Licuanan said CHED supports a full investigation on Tejada’s case and ordered all state colleges and universities, including UP, to conduct consultations with parent, students and stakeholders before increasing their fees.
Licuanan said Tejada’s suicide must be approached with great sensitivity, as “simplistic speculation does not help anyone.”
“And using Kristel’s apparent suicide to serve a political platform, no matter how valid, is unconscionable,” she said.
but the moment the State U required its students to pay the P1500 per unit, that’s multiplied by at least 15 units for a regular load per semester, that’s P22,500 per sem, this became a political issue, Ms. Licuanan. it became an issue that is about whether or not this government and your office think it important that our students get a college education. it became an issue about your assessment of what is State education. it became an issue that is about your office’s notions of who deserves to get into the University of the Philippines, and who can actually graduate from the University of the Philippines.
this has politics written all over it Ms. Licuanan, because your statements, your office, will be used by the government you serve to point out how its hands are tied as far as free State education is concerned. because your office said it, PNoy, believe me, will fall back on it.
and yes, it is bourgeois as well to even think of choice here.
if there’s anything that State U education should have taught all of us, it’s that for many many others, poverty is a dead end. if you cannot imagine that, if you think that choice is what all of us have, then you are showing your bourgeois slip, too.
because choice is a wonderous thing. and not all of us have it. and no, there is nothing kind or compassionate about your assertion here, which does nothing but absolve the State U and the State itself, for its failure to uphold the right to free education for its students.
this is no better than those who have started assessing how much one parent needs to earn in order to put his child through a semester in the State U. to assess it so simplistically as to say that all the family needed to earn was P70 pesos a day, 100 days before the tuition is due to be paid, is to fail at considering how poor the poor can be. and how working the streets, how the underground economy, does not even begin to work the way you imagine it.
if there’s anything that Kristel’s death reveals, it’s that we have come to a point where those who actually studied in the State U can turn out to be the most elitist insensitive people on social media. we are being told that we do not know anymore what we mean when we say poor, when we think impoverished. it’s that we cannot imagine how poor poor can be, and how those people do exist in the State U and elsewhere.
it’s that in the end, these alumni of the State University, and this CHED Chairperson, will be used by this government to wash its hands of this incident, and point out that it is something it cannot, will not, solve.
these words, insensitive and apathetic, with its gross inability at real empathy and compassion, these words will be used by this PNoy government to justify its stand on the lack of free State Education.
it doesn’t get more political than that.