PNU’s invitation of Duterte offends teachers, students

The invitation of President Rodrigo Duterte to address a state university’s anniversary celebrations was an affront to the school’s tradition of excellence and service, a teachers’ group said.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said it was ironic for the Philippine Normal University (PNU) to have invited someone who has neglected the education sector to address its 120th anniversary celebrations last Wednesday, September 1.

“Irony of ironies: The President who let education down speaks before [the] teachers’ university,” ACT added.

The group also criticized Duterte, saying: “We don’t know where Duterte found the gall to speak before teachers and future teachers whom he has consistently failed to protect in all his years as President.”

ACT pointed out that the Philippines currently suffers one of the longest school closures in the world as a result of Duterte’s failed coronavirus pandemic response.

Other proofs of Duterte’s dismal track record in education include the country’s gravest learning loss during his presidency as well as worsening hardships of education workers, the activist group added.

“He is also responsible for the grim state of teachers as overworked, underpaid, and under-supported. He betrayed teachers with his sham promise of a substantial pay hike, then attacked those of us who are fighting to hold him accountable. The deep impacts of his legacy of neglect and attacks on education will be suffered by generations to come,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.

ACT said PNU’s students, professors and alumni protested Duterte’s inclusion in yesterday’s program through a petition shortly after school authorities made the announcement late Tuesday.

About 200 PNU professors, students and alumni have signed the petition as Duterte’S pre-recorded message was streamed online yesterday, ACT said.

“The President who has continuously neglected the people and the education sector should not be invited as a guest,” ACT Education Students-PNU said in a separate statement.

PNU’s live streaming of the event was also peppered with laughter emojis and comments critical of Duterte.

A real time comment even made fun of the President’s speech, saying, “DO NOT READ FROM YOUR NOTES!”

Duterte’s brief message during the online celebration launch indicated however the school’s invitation was mere formality, paid in equal measure by the President’s perfunctory delivery. The President read 30 seconds worth of prepared notes and an even shorter ad lib saying his late mother was a PNU alumna. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)