UP Diliman investigates Abad mobbing incident
MANILA, Philippines – The University of the Philippines-Diliman is investigating the reported mobbing of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad at a forum on campus last week.
In a statement on Monday, September 22, UP President Alfredo Pascual said the probe, which will be done in accordance with university’s rules, will cover the possible participation of "people who are not affiliated with UP."
On September 17, Abad was invited by the University Student Council to speak about the proposed national budget for 2015. During the forum, held at the UP School of Economics, he reportedly defended the administration’s controversial spending program which the Supreme Court had declared partially unconstitutional – the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
On his way out, Abad was mobbed by a group of supposedly UP students who chanted “Magnanakaw (Thief)!” and allegedly threw coins and crumpled paper at him.
Abad, in a statement, said he was gearing up for a dialogue with the protesters, who were members of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (Stand-UP).
"Once I began approaching the Stand-UP group, however, the protesters – who were around 50 to 60 strong – did not engage me in a dialogue. Instead, they surrounded me aggressively as I made my way towards the vehicle. I had objects thrown at me, and one student even attempted to grab me by the collar," the budget secretary said.
President Benigno Aquino III, alongside a group of UP Economics professors and Senator Pia Cayetano, was dismayed over the mobbing incident. UP protest groups, however, maintained that the real issue at hand is DAP and corruption, and that the time for sober discussion was over. (READ: 'Hooliganism')
On Monday, UP's Pascual said UP students should have showed the budget secretary the courtesy and respect due to all guests of the premier state university.
“While UP constituents are free to actively express their views on issues that affect our nation, such as the proper use of public funds, UP does not condone the use of violence in any manner against any person, be it a member of the university community, a visitor, or a government official,” Pascual said in his statement.
The UP president maintained that, as the country’s national university, “UP must lead the debate on important issues confronting the country. But debate and dissent, while articulated with passion, require evidence-based and reasoned arguments, and civility to and respect for those who hold the opposite view.” – Rappler.com