MANILA (Mabuhay) – With University of the Philippines (UP) student activists refusing to apologize for the mobbing of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Malacañang on Tuesday said what happened showed their “lack of civility.
“You may have disagreements but you don’t go to the extent of physically harming on of the proponents. That shows your lack of civility,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told Palace reporters.
He said violence can never be justified “no matter if you believe your position is correct.”
Dialogue and discourse should prevail in the “marketplace of ideas,” Lacierda added.
The spokesperson also accused the protesters of having different versions of the event, which happened at the UP-Diliman on Wednesday evening. “Let them be,” he said.
The Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (Stand UP) said it would “never apologize” for what had happened, claiming it was Abad’s guards who manhandled them despite only carrying placards and throwing crumpled paper.
The group also denied that a student grabbed Abad by the collar, despite an earlier release by Anakbayan mentioning the incident.
“Had we been intent on hurting him…, we would have barged into the auditorium while he was [talking] to students, mauling everyone who got in our way,” Stand UP said.
In his statement, Abad said the students threw objects at him while one student attempted, but did not succeed, in grabbing him by the collar.
But activists were quick to react to Lacierda’s comments.
Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said “lack of civility is when you steal P200 billion from public funds.”
He said it was the “civil duty” of the UP students to protest against corruption.
The student activists were protesting against Abad for his key role in the crafting of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which was allegedly used to bribe senators into impeaching former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
While UP professors from the School of Economics slammed the protest, another group of faculty members, Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (Contend), defended the students for expressing “collective anger and frustration” at the Executive’s stand on DAP, which was declared partly unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. (MNS)