CSU students light candles for schoolmate Rosanna Sanfuego
CAGAYAN, Philippines – Cagayan State University (CSU) students joined a candle-lighting ceremony in memory of fallen schoolmate Rosanna Sanfuego on Friday night, March 6.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines-Cagayan (NUSP Cagayan) initiated the memorial to call attention to the plight of Sanfuego, who killed herself in their home on February 25, reportedly over difficulties in paying for school fees.
Dean Julius Capili of the CSU College of Allied Health Science (CAHS) claimed that some students were "coerced" to attend the event.
In a text message, Capili said the students who joined the rally were reportedly made to believe they were attending an ordinary candle-lighting and offering in memory of the student but were surprised when they were asked to hold "banners."
"All the while they were made to believe na candle-offering lang 'yun para kay Rosanna (All the while they were made to believe that was only a candle-offering for Rosanna). But they were made to hold banners and pictures were taken," said Capili.
Capili said the "scared" students reported the incident to their teachers who were in the faculty room.
"Too bad that these things are happening and other people are putting fuel on the issue," he said.
Capili did not name the students or how many they were, nor the teachers they reportedly complained to, but said one of the students was a child of a faculty member.
Femie Galapon of NUSP Cagayan, among those who initiated the prayer rally, denied the allegations.
"We did not, in any form, coerce students to join the prayer rally. We explained to them what will happen and they came in sympathy for Rosanna," Galapon said.
A student who joined the event said they did so voluntarily.
"Hindi naman po kami napilit, ginawa po namin 'yun para kay Rosanna (We weren't forced to go. We did this for Rosanna)," the student, who asked not to be named, said.
Liana Acuzar of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Cagayan Valley said that around 50 CSU students joined the event which was "only a candle-lighting [ceremony] and not a rally."
"It's not a rally. It's only a candle-lighting ceremony of the students to show sympathy for the victim. Ang hawak nila ay pangalan lamang ni Rosanna at ang statement na (They only held a banner with Rosanna's name and the statement), 'Light a candle for Rosanna.' No more. No less," Acuzar said.
Clarification on date of exam
Capili clarified that Sanfuego’s midterm examinations were on February 23-24, days before she committed suicide.
Lawyer Honorato Carag, the chief administrative officer of the campus, had also earlier said that Sanfuego died prior to the examination period, which dispelled speculation that she took her life for failing to take the exams. (READ: Priest condemns 'unrepentant' CSU over student's suicide)
Carag also clarified that Rosanna had paid the downpayment to take her exams.
Sanfuego reportedly stopped attending classes beginning February 20.
Sanfuego's mother, Sophiya, had repeatedly said that according to her daughter, she would not be allowed to take the exams if she couldn't pay her school fees.
In an exclusive interview, Sophiya recalled her last conversations with her daughter.
"Makisarita ka pay lang ah. Ibagam nga agbayad kan tu tunu makapaw-it ni antim (Talk to them to allow you for the meantime. Tell them that you will pay once you receive your allowance from your aunt)," Sophiya recalled telling her daughter.
Around early February, Sanfuego told her mother she did not have enough money for the payment of her board, laboratory requirements, and her school fees, forcing her to drop all her subjects and go home.
"Agtetext isuna, awan kanu pang allowance na. Permi kanu ti bisbisin ta awan kanu pay pangkaan nan," she said. (She keeps texting me that she doesn’t have allowance anymore, that she’s so hungry most of the time because she does not have enough money for food.)
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said during a forum in Tuguegarao he will include the case of Sanfuego in his agenda in the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, the CSU Board of Regents have not yet decided on the reimposition of tuition fees, which means the school will maintain the "no-tuition-fee" policy. (READ: 'Students can’t afford reimposition of CSU tuition fees')
In a phone interview on Friday, Student Regent Ronel Alcasoda said the school administration has yet to submit proposals.
"There was no proposal yet because we are not yet done with the consultation process," he said.
Commission on Higher Education's Memorandum Order 03-2012 mandates state universities and colleges to include consultation results from stakeholders before approving and implementing the fees. – Rappler.com