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Sayang free tuition! Duterte OK with rallies but not walkouts

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By: Xave Gregorio

President Rodrigo Duterte is fine with students holding protests against his government, but not with them walking out of their classes for demonstrations, the Palace clarified Saturday (February 3).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte does not want students from state universities joining walkouts as they could incur absences which may lead to their dismissal.

“Sa UP (University of the Philippines), mayroon po kaming maximum absence rule, kapag ikaw absent ng 20 percent, you are automatically dropped from the rolls,” Roque said in a press briefing in Ilocos Norte.

Roque is referring to Article 346 of the Revised UP Code, which says students who lose 20 percent of class hours in one subject will be dropped from the subject.

“Ang sinasabi lang ng Presidente, huwag naman natin sayangin iyong mga pera ng sambayanan na ginugol natin para sa free tuition ng lahat ng State Universities and Colleges,” Roque said.

Duterte signed a law in August 2017 granting students from state universities and colleges free tuition.

“Ito kasi ang kauna-unahang taon na binabayaran natin ang tuition ng lahat ng States Universities at Colleges, hindi lang UP,” Roque said.

“Malinaw po ang sabi ni Presidente, ang tinututulan niya iyong walkout sa klase. Hindi po niya sinusupil ang karapatan ng malayang pananalita at saka ng karapatan ng peaceful assembly,” he said further.

Malacañang’s clarification comes after Duterte threatened to kick out students who continue to participate in walk outs, following the National Day of Walkout Against Tyranny and Dictatorship last Thursday (February 1) which was participated in by UP students.