Duterte not stifling free speech, assembly of UP students but doesn't want walkouts: Roque
President Rodrigo Duterte is not against freedom of express or right to peaceful assembly of students in the University of the Philippines but he is against students walking out of their classes, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"It is clear that the president is opposed to students walking out of their classes. He is not against the right to free speech or peaceful assembly. Students can do that but he doesn't like walkouts," said Roque in a press conference Saturday in Ilocos Norte.
Some UP students walked out from their classes on Thursday to "fight against the tyranny and dictatorship of the US-Duterte regime," the UP Office of the Student Regent posted on its Facebook account.
Duterte said Friday he would have intelligent Filipinos who were not fortunate enough to get quality education to enroll in UP, especially from indigenous people or lumads
Roque said what Duterte wants to stress is this is the first time tuition is free in all state universities, not only in the UP.
"What the president wants to say is he doesn't want students to be wasting taxpayer money which is funding free education in state colleges and universities each time they walk out of their classes," said Roque, who taught law for 15 years at UP.
Roque said Duterte insisted, against the advice of the economic managers, to look for funds to fund free tuition in state universities and colleges. "He told them to find money because it is what I promised," said Roque.
Roque added that there is a maximum absence rule in UP, where if you incurred 20 percent absences in a semester, a student is dropped from the rolls. DMS