Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Repost From Thea Alberto Of Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Students heckle Aquino; PSG explains how hecklers slipped security

By Thea Alberto – October 7th, 2010

By Thea Alberto
Yahoo! Southeast Asia

(UPDATE) University students on Monday stole the show from President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as they demanded for a higher education budget.

Aquino was in the middle of a townhall-syle meeting for his First 100 days report when students interrupted the program and held a lightning rally inside La Consolacion College Mendiola.

“Isang daang araw pa lang malinaw ang kanyang tunguhin. Kakaltasan niya ang budget sa kolehiyo at unibersidad hindi makakapag-aral ang mga mahihirap na estudyante,” one student said, even pointing fingers at the President.

Three other students held coupon bond-sized placards demanding for education budget increase.

Aquino merely smiled and listened to the protester as program emcee Mari Oquinena tried to downplay the protest by lauding the act and even describing it as “freedom of expression.”

Aquino responded to the students and said the government has increased the budget allocation for education in next year’s General Appropriations Act. He also referred the students to Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro.

The student heckler, later identified as Cesarie Ann Santos, Chairperson of the University of the Philippines-Manila Student Council, and three others were later escorted out by members of the Presidential Security Group.

Communications group Secretary Ricky Carandang said the hecklers were invited along with the UP Manila Chancellor.

Presidential Security Group Chief, Ramon Dizon explained there was actually no breach of security because the hecklers were listed as invited guests.

“They were invited, they had tickets. It’s a free country,” Dizon told Yahoo! Southeast Asia in a phone interview.

Dizon said although there was concern how they were able to stage a protest, the students posted no threat to the President.

“They’re not a threat to the President. Nobody was hurt, that’s more important,” said Dizon.

Dizon said although they can file charges, Malacanang opted not to sue the students.

In a related development, Communications Group Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma said the UP Manila Chancellor apologized for the students.

“They were expressing their apology and was even offering to relay their apologies to the President,” said Coloma in a phone interview.

“But the President took it very well and we did not view negativity,” Coloma added.

Reposted From Thea Alberto of Yahoo! Southeast Asia

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