President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to halt funding for the University of the Philippines (UP) as university students nationwide threatened to go on academic strikes in revolt against the government’s “criminally neglectful” pandemic and calamity response.

“Maghinto kayo ng aral, I will stop the funding. Wala nang ginawa itong ano kundi mag-recruit ng mga komunista diyan,” Duterte said.

“Gusto niyo binibira ang gobyerno. Masyado naman kaswerte kayo. Wag talaga kayong manakot rather, kasi i will oblige you,” he added.

However, it was actually students from Ateneo de Manila University who called for a strike in protest of the national government’s supposed inaction.

Ateneo students pledged to “withhold the submission of any school requirements starting Nov. 18 until the national government heeds the people’s demands for proper calamity aid and pandemic response.”

“We cannot prioritize our schoolwork when our countrymen are suffering unnecessarily at the hands of those in power. We assert that the Ateneo community must, at the moment, concentrate all efforts into helping the most vulnerable citizens of the Philippines, such as those in Cagayan, Isabela and the Bicol region,” a statement co-signed by hundreds of Ateneo students read.

Duterte dared the students to stop schooling “until all Filipinos are vaccinated.”

“I suggest to you, stop schooling until all Filipinos are vaccinated. You resume your duty and you wait for another typhoon and see if the help that we extend is enough to your satisfaction,” he said.

“You are taking the cudgels of the poor ahead of your time. That is not your worry, that is the worry of government,” Duterte added.

Malacañang and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) on Tuesday nixed calls for the implementation of a nationwide academic break due to the disruptions caused by recent typhoons to the education sector, citing flexibility of the modular learning framework.

CHEd Chairman Prospero de Vera III said a nationwide academic break would not be advantageous as the typhoons’ impact was different across different parts of the country.

Decisions on class suspensions, de Vera added, would be up to local government units and university authorities, as they were closer to the ground. John Ezekiel J. Hirro