Who should be blamed for Kristel’s death?
This is in response to Neal Cruz’s column titled “UP scholar killed by some stupid red tape” (Inquirer, 3/18/13). From my understanding, his main argument was that Kristel Tejada, a Behavorial Science student from the University of the Philippines-Manila (UPM), killed herself due to the circumstances directly caused by excessive bureaucracy, also known as red tape. While he is entitled to his own opinion, I object to his claim on the ground that his arguments are fallacious.
For the sake of facts, I must clarify that Kristel was not a scholar of the Philippine Science High School but a scholar at Manila Cathedral School, as reported by GMA News and verified by Kristel’s mother. This factual error is understandable considering that the incident occurred only a few days before his column was published. This, however, disproves the development of his argument. It is fallacious to quote UPM officials as saying that “she was not able to complete the paperwork” and condemn this as red tape. This conclusion is clearly a straw man, a fallacy in which he purposely misinterpreted the opposing argument to make it easier to refute. It is true that Kristel applied for a second loan while she and her parents appealed to extend the period in paying for the first loan they procured. However, by the time Kristel’s father was able to settle the first loan, it was too late to get the second loan. In an interview, UPM Chancellor Manuel Agulto, he gave Tejada three chances to avail herself of a renewed loan application under the university’s socialized tuition and financial assistance program. Unfortunately, Agulto says, the family made an appeal only on Jan. 23, nine weeks into the second semester of 2012-2013 and this was well beyond the last day of payment.
It is also important to consider the undeniable financial situation of all UP schools. With its lack of funding, it is understandable that the administration be strict about loans and requirements. That is, however, a separate issue altogether.
The main issue is about Kristel, a student whose situation, regardless of its political relevance, put her in a disposition that led her to commit suicide. It is undeniable that she was a victim, perhaps a victim of her own depression, but red tape cannot be the sole factor in her demise. As a Behavorial Science student like Kristel, I was taught to view suicide as a psychological disorder because it veers from normal behavior and is deviant in nature. Modern perspectives of psychology regard psychological disorders as having both biological and psychological causes. A disorder results from a combination of diathesis (vulnerability) and stress (a trigger). Therefore, it is wrong to say that Kristel was “killed by some stupid red tape” because many factors must be considered.
I implore Cruz to consider the sensitivity of this incident and not treat it as merely as a platform to further his criticisms of the government. I also hope to receive a response from him.
—CLAUDINE JANELLE S. FRANKERA,
student, De La Salle University,
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