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The problem with collective activism

While about to sleep on my bed one night, the dogs started to bark outside. Without a second, our dog, Sky, started to follow the rest of the dogs in our neighborhood. It took about some minutes before Sky went back to sleep. This behavior of dogs that they immediately bark upon hearing the rest of their pack outside is interesting since they don’t really know what they were barking for.

The behavior of the dogs can mirror the idea of collective activism. There are people who believe that activism is becoming a member of the majority and following the orders of the leaders of the group without full knowledge on the issues they raise. 

What I love about dogs like Sky is that they are highly trainable. With a good dog trainer around, they can easily learn tricks taught to them. They are very receptive to new knowledge and are very willing to fully grasp lessons as long as they are taught comprehensively.

Recently, I decided to disrupt the popular opinion that there was “2.2 billion budget in UP” by showing them the facts I gathered after my research from Rappler. I wanted to represent those who believed that there was no budget cut on the education budget of UP. I wanted to voice out the concerns of University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu Dean Liza Corro and UP President Alfredo Pascual. Why? Because what they were saying isn’t really untrue and every UP student might be confused where the two faction: whether or not the 2.2 billion budget cut in UP exists. 

For 2016 UP Budget, both UP Cebu Dean and UP President are coming from the Academic Unit allocation when they said that there was no budget cut in UP. It’s true. While there was a decrease in the Capital Outlay (CO), both Personal Services (PS) and Maintenance and Other Operating Expense (MOOE) in UP increased more than the amount of decrease CO.

They failed to acknowledge the existence of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and that the hospital is part of the academic learning of UP Manila medical students. They wanted to separate PGH from the Academic Units by believing that UP’s budget is divided into health care and education. They believed that they are only accountable to the UP students when concerning the Academic Units budget. They failed to acknowledge that the budget previously allocated to the CO of PGH can be reallocated to the Academic Sector because, in the first place, UP requested 24 billion for the 2016 budget while only receiving 10.8 billion from the proposed 2016 budget.

The existence of UP budget cut is undeniable. If we talk about the education budget of UP, technically there is no budget cut. However, if we include the health sector (which is PGH) of UP, there is no question on the existence of budget cut brought about by the nonrecurring CO budget for the modernization of PGH equipment included in the 2015 budget. Activists should be able to understand this situation and ready to answer if someone asks them for the details.

While it was already stated that the modernization of its equipment in PGH is already done, UP Manila Student Council went directly to PGH and found out that the hospital needs more facilities and technologies but UP President said, “PGH will experience decrease. The requirement for an equipment is to have a life span of 25 years, so for the next 25 years, we won't have to buy equipment for PGH.”

Social media has been my best spot for learning. Research wouldn’t be complete without the validation from people who know more about the issue. Good to know that UP Cebu is still composed of people who know what they’re fighting for. I admire these students for not only studying the materials available to them but also understanding beyond the numbers.

The problem exists when these information has not fully been understood by the rest of its community. It’s disappointing to note that there are personalities who use social media to throw personal attacks against those who are still trying to grasp what they’re fighting for by calling them stupid, ignorant, pro-budget cut, and other names you wouldn’t want to hear from intellectual Iskolars who wanted change in the society. 

This disappointing behavior of neophyte student activists is no different from those dogs who bark in the night. They bark issues in the streets that we should be concerned about without full understanding. A neophyte student activist should be open to be questioned on his/her stand and, at the same time, willing to explain these issues without resorting to personal attacks.

Activism is about education; not behaving like how dogs are when one of them starts to bark. Siding with the unpopular opinion with the hint of hunger for knowledge isn’t necessarily evil but social media allows everyone to speak out their minds without necessarily giving intelligent and sound responses.

Instead of behaving like dogs, activists should learn how to become dog trainers.


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