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Activists hit university exec, guards for alleged harassment during forum

By GERALD LEIGH LAQUINON
Correspondent

YOUTH activists on Thursday decried a school official and guards of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) for alleged harassment and intimidation.

Kabataan partylist and the Students Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights (Stand-IIT) alleged that the University’s acting director of student affairs, Dr. Edward Banawa, and guards, barged during a forum on “Neoliberal Policies on Education” and started red-tagging participants.

According to Alvin Jay Orit, chairperson of Stand-IIT, the incident took place at the College of Education (CED) Amphitheater on Wednesday.

Orit said the school official described the forum as “leftist,” and had the proceedings recorded.

He said Banawa allegedly took the registration forms and questioned why Vennel Francis Chenfoo, Kabataan’s third nominee, was invited as a speakers.

Banawa was quoted as saying that Chenfoo was banned from entering the university.

“He didn’t have papers to show that I am indeed banned from entering the university where I once studied,” said Chenfoo. “The DSA, headed by Dr. Banawa, has long been accusing us of being ‘left’ simply because we espouse for the rights of students.”

Orit maintained that they have no intention of violating the school’s policy of banning political campaigns inside the campus as insisted by Banawa.

“The forum was just to discuss legitimate matters about the educational system,” he said.

“The DSA, which is supposed to be the center for students’ rights and welfare, is at the forefront of repressing the students of their right to know the policies behind the education they are getting,” added Chenfoo.

Stand-IIT has brought the incident to the attention of the university chancellor. As for filing a legal case, they are yet to consult with their legal advisers.

The March 9-10 forum was organized by Stand-IIT together with the League of the Filipino Students-IIT in partnership with MSU-IIT CED and the CED Executive Council. Among its speakers was Prof. Arnold Alamon of the IIT’s Department of Sociology.

The paper tried to reach Dr. Banawa to get his reaction on the issue, but until press time he has not yet responded.

Meanwhile, the youth groups would lead the National Day of Action against tuition and other school fee increases and student repression on March 11 by holding a regional protest action in front of the Commission on Higher Education in Cagayan de Oro.

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