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CSU official hit for ‘malicious’ statement vs militant member over student’s suicide

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- A militant group slammed an official of Cagayan State University (CSU) for his alleged “malicious” statement against one of its members.

Anakpawis Cagayan Valley said the statement of Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, CSU vice president for administration, for mentioning that the uncle of Rodolfo Urmanita, a student who committed suicide, was an advocate of the militant group.

Anakpawis described Aquino’s statement as “absurd,” questioning the linkage of the uncle’s affiliation with them to his stand on the cause of the student’s suicide.

“Malisyoso ang naging pahayag ni Fr. Aquino: ano ang kaugnayan ng pagiging miyembro ng Anakpawis na uncle ni Rodolfo sa paninindigan niya na mag-protesta,” the statement of Anakpawis said.

The group said the uncle was only protesting on a certain provision of the agreement which exempted the school from liabilities over the death of Urmanita.

“Ang tinutulan ng uncle ay ang pagpapapirma sa mga magulang ni Rodolfo sa isang kasunduan na magpapawalang-sala sa CSU sa anumang responsibilidad nila sa nangyari kay Rodolfo. Inakala ng ama ni Rodolfo na ang pinirmahan niya ay isang receiving copy lamang,” reads the statement.

“Nakakabahala na sinamantala ng CSU ang limitasyon sa pagbabasa at kahirapan sa buhay ng mga magulang ni Rodolfo,” it added.

Urmanita was found lifeless in his room in Tuguegarao on January 16 after he hanged himself using a shoelace.

The unidentified uncle of the victim reportedly confronted officials of the university when the latter visited the wake of Urmanita and to hand over the P50,000 worth of financial assistance from the university’s Student’s Mutual Aid Fund,

In a Facebook post on Saturday, February 3,  Aquino had denied Urmanita’s death had connection to his unpaid school fees, saying police investigations led to “family problems” as the cause of the student’s depression.

“None of the police reports mention any issue with tuition or school fees as associated with his death. They do identity his problem with his family,” Aquino said.

‘Cancelled prayer vigil’

On Friday, February 2, the CSU administration also allegedly “barred” the students from conducting a supposed prayer vigil for Urmanita.

In a press release, the Kabataan Partylist claimed CSU officials, who had been denying that Urmanita killed himself over unpaid school dues, protested on placards calling “Justice for Roda.”

Urmanita’s mother, Roginia, holds a paper calling “Justice for Roda,” and a candle during a prayer rally outside the campus of Cagayan State University. Photo courtesy of Kabataan Party List

The vigil was organized by the campus student government. Urmanita’s mother, Roginia, and other family members were present during the prayer vigil.

The progressive group insisted that CSU officials are “negligent” on the plight of students as it continues to collect “redundant, exorbitant, and dubious miscellaneous fees.”

“With the ratification of RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, students of CSU are still being obligated to pay school fees to be able to enroll…The university administration is negligent to the plight of its students, wherein most come from poor families,” Kabataan said in its press release.

The cancelled prayer vigil prompted CSU officials to hold emergency meeting on “provocateurs” and “security risks.”

Unpaid school dues

While the school’s administration insisted that the school fees problems of Urmanita did not cause his suicide, the victim’s brother, Roderick, told The Northern Forum that Urmanita was having problems with his enrolment due to a balance from the previous semester.

In an interview, Roderick said CSU employees reportedly told him he can’t be  enrolled if he can’t pay his previous balance, which amounted to more than P3,000.

Hours before his suicide, Urmanita’s mother, Roginia, said her son called her up and asked her to send P4,000 immediately. Roginia, however, told Urmanita that she had no cash with her.

Roginia admitted she had altercation with his son during the call because of his demand to send the money immediately.

“His (Urmanita’s) friends told us they didn’t know he was asking money from mother. He also told them he was already enrolled, when in fact, he’s not,” Roderick told Forum in Filipino.

“It’s painful. Why would they tell him that he can’t enroll if he can’t his balance,” Roderick added. Northernforum.net

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