‘Decent’ dissent in UP
This is in reaction to the report “UP profs, studes slam assault on Abad, decry ‘hooliganism’” (Metro, 9/20/14) regarding the protest that met Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Sept. 17 after he spoke at a forum sponsored by the University of the Philippines Diliman Student Council and the UP School of Economics Student Council.
The report was mainly derived from the statement of the UP School of Economics faculty members, which said that coins were thrown at Abad as he was leaving the building. The coins could have been just one or two or very few because for many UP students (like the toiling Filipino masses), every centavo counts, so throwing away a few already means a lot to them. Their indignation was toward a person who has thrown billions of pesos of public funds to “friendly” offices and political allies of his and his party mates’ choice.
The report that was based on the statement said that “placards” and “crumpled pieces of paper” were also thrown at Abad. But these are not acts of “hooliganism.” These are political acts of exasperation which could very well mean “Shame on you!” (in Filipino, “Walanghiya ka!”). On a more personal level, one could get one’s face spat on.
In other cultures, rotten eggs or tomatoes, or even shoes, are thrown at an objectionable person. These acts are done by disempowered groups and individuals who wish to make a point, usually to someone in power or in
authority and/or one who has the capacity to drop bombs, figuratively and literally. These are not meant to kill, but are meant to express disgust.
The statement further said that the protesters “violated decency and courtesy.” But “decent” indignation is not limited to a protest action held in an air-conditioned hall, and “courtesy” is not only those objections (noted down on tablets) expressed over a microphone. Moreover, with “decency and courtesy” on their mind, it is unfortunate that the UP School of Economics faculty missed the protesters’ point—that Secretary Abad should have the decency to resign and the courtesy to apologize to the Filipino people for the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program, his brainchild.
Given the different kinds of reception that Secretary Abad got—from the UP School of Economics faculty on one hand, and from the protesters on the other—one can surmise which side each is for … if one is not so “academic.”
—JULIE L. PO, Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino, [email protected]
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