MORE THAN 1,400 Thomasians have signed a manifesto, drafted by student council officers, calling for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The “Tomasino Strike Back” campaign, led by Central Student Council (CSC) interim president Robert Dominic Gonzales and other student leaders, aims to “achieve the ousting of Duterte and to educate those who are still unaware of his wrongdoings.”

“By doing the signature campaign, we aim to highlight the major incompetence and negligence that we experience which have worsened due to the pandemic,” Datu Zaldy Nurhassan Ampatuan, head councilor of the UST Senior High School Provisional Student Council (SHS PSC), told the Varsitarian.

Student leaders also criticized the national government’s “criminally neglectful response” to the recent spate of typhoons during the National Day of Action Conference on Nov. 20.

CSC Executive Secretary Krizia Bricio said the government was indifferent to the people affected by the calamities.

“Sa mga nagdaang bagyo… dito mas nakita din natin na isinasawalang bahala tayo ng ating pamahalaan dahil sa kawalan nila ng aksyon,” she said in a statement during the conference.

Bricio also questioned Duterte’s priorities, citing the president’s lengthy rant against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

Nakikita natin ngayon sa social media at balita na mas inuuna pa ng ating presidente ang pagra-rant o pagrereklamo sa pinakakalat umanong balita ni VP Leni,” she said.

Mas inuna niya ito sa kanyang presscon na imbes na humingi ng tawad sa mga nasalanta sa kawalan niya ng aksyon, at… magbigay ng konkretong plano sa rehabilitation sa mga nasalantang lugar,” Bricio added.

In a public address on Nov. 17, Duterte falsely claimed Robredo was behind the #NasaanAngPangulo (Where is the President?) hashtag, which made the rounds on social media as netizens questioned the national government’s calamity response.

‘Poor disaster response; healthcare left unprioritized’

Ampatuan said the Filipino resiliency narrative should not be used as an excuse for poor disaster risk management.

Ilang buhay ang nawala, ilang bahay ang nasira at marami ang nawalan ng kagamitan. Kaya napapansin din natin dito na mayroong unpreparedness in general [ang] administrasyong Duterte,” he said.

Government budget cuts on healthcare were also questioned.

The CSC said Duterte had failed to fulfill his duties, “a clear manifestation of his inability to lead the country.”

“We recognize the strong spirit of bayanihan in these pressing times, but we also acknowledge that this is the manifestation of the national government’s lack of urgency, incompetence and self-serving privilege to remain in power,” a statement signed by various student council leaders dated Nov. 18 read.


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