By NATHANIEL FABIAN and JHAMES PAREDES
TUGUEGARAO CITY — Senior high school students Ronnel Sergia of St. Philomene Academy in Alcala town and Jennifer Lagajet of FL Vargas College here, were reported to have committed suicide last March 14, Wednesday and 20, Tuesday, respectively.
These most recent suicide incidents involving students toll to a total of 3 since January.
According to the mother of Ronnel, Mela Sergia, a teacher made him pass a project in order to pull up his grades. However, when Ronnel passed the project, the teacher humiliated him in front of class, saying that he will not be able to graduate at all. Also, Ronnel still had to pay a balance to the school.
Later that day, he was found hanging in their home from a rope used for carabaos.
Much like Rodolfo Urmanita of Cagayan State University – Andrews Campus, who was humiliated by a cashier personnel and denied him enrollment due to “unexplained” school fees. Last January 16, Roda was found lifeless, he had hanged himself using a shoelace, inside his room at a boarding house in Barangay Caritan.
“Kung meron mang kaming maisip na dahilan kung bakit niya ginawa iyon, tungkol ito sa mga bayarin, pangunahin na sa school (If we can think of a reason why he would do that, it’s about the fees, primarily at school),” said Alex to Nordis.
Relatives and close friends confirm that Roda indeed endured problems with his family and with dealings with school fees and academic pressure. The friends and relatives of Roda held a candle-lighting activity last February 2 after what was supposed to be a prayer vigil, but school administrators immediately canceled the event after seeing an art installation inscribed with the words Justice for Roda.
The rising number of education-related deaths has alarmed progressive youth organizations across the country, immediately calling upon the school boards and the government for the swift and blanket implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act as well as to put an end to the K12 system.
In a statement released by the League of Filipino Students, National Spokesperson Kara Taggaoa said that, “these incidents of suicide among our high school students are not isolated cases. On top of many possible factors that may have triggered their anxiety and death, is the fact that they suffer under an education system that extracts as much profit from them. The K-12 program is a neoliberal dictate that is currently attacking our education system. Its only purpose is to institutionalize commercialized education and produce cheap and docile labor that are export- and enclave-ready.”
Meanwhile, Paul Soriano, spokesperson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet chapter, reiterated that, “Especially during these times that the US-Duterte regime is frustrated in killing the Filipino people with his anti-people wars and policies, the youth can never be safer. It is in our resistance against the proliferation of the neoliberal program of Duterte that we shall keep ourselves secure. As we see, this systemic crises that continuously burdens the poor are not just manifested in education. The jeepney phaseout, contractualization, bogus tax reform are all part of the grand modus of the Duterte administration’s policy to kill – either by gun or by paper” he added. # nordis.net