Open Letter to the Tejada Family

March 21, 2013


To the Tejada Family,
 

We would like to express our sincerest condolences on the loss of your family. 
 
We see Kristel's death as an epitome of a hundred broken promises of this government to its people.
 
First and foremost is the promise, and obligation, to provide FREE education for all – an unfulfilled mandate that has left various generations of young people high and dry and has left youth like Kristel and their families distressed and frustrated. Tuition increase schemes such as the Socialized Tuition Fee Assistance Program (STFAP) in state universities has only exacerbated the denial of the fundamental right to education by the paving way for the government’s full-scale abandonment of its responsibility to provide free education for its citizens.
 
The promise of academic freedom in schools has equally failed the youth. Repressive policies of state universities and private schools prohibit the students’ exercise of their right to free speech and association through patently unconstitutional student handbooks which penalizes even the students’ exercise of their right to form and join organizations, especially those which are political and progressive in nature. Some universities even require their students to sign waivers to coerce them not to join organizations such as League of Filipino Students, AnakBayan, Gabriela Youth etc, who are very vocal against tuition hikes and campus repression and which provide venues for critical discourses within and outside the campus to analyze and act upon political and social issues. It is because of these anti-student and anti-poor policies such as the “no tuition no enrolment” policy that drove Kristel to the last straw. 
  
With the soaring prices of basic commodity, education, medicines and other needs, with lesser available jobs, low wages and no job security, the Filipino people, families like you and like ours, are being affected by these hardships.
 
We human rights defenders grieve with you, the Tejada family, for Kristel's demise. Yet, it is families like you, and victims like Kristel that provide the resolve in our hearts to fight for what is just. We encourage you to join other families who were victimized by this vicious government and know that your case is not an isolated one. We would be glad to introduce you to the families of victims of human rights violations whose loved ones were killed, tortured or disappeared by state forces. These families are organizing themselves to strengthen their united call for justice. Please know that with this present deteriorating state of our country, a most pressing option is to organize ourselves to change it. 
 
Kristel's passing will not be in vain. Her life and memory serve as a wake-up call for reforms, not only for the University of the Philippines but also for the Aquino government. We are here at your side, together with various progressive organizations to support your call for justice. 
 
Sincerely,

Human rights workers from KARAPATAN, Desaparecidos, SELDA, EMJP, Hustisya, and Tanggol Bayi