Saturday, March 16, 2013

On the Death of Kristel Tejada

People say that if you’re a student, all you need to do is to study well. Let the fight for your rights be the job of those who wield the authority to institute the changes that must be made, they say. That is what the government is for, they say. It is precisely this utopian, distorted line of reasoning that permits injustice to rear its head with impunity. It is pure blunder, nay a fatal error in ways real than imagined, to assume that manna will simply fall from heaven, ergo, earn your grades and the universe will conspire to bless you henceforth. But ours is not only the right to education but also the struggle that goes with it. And so we fight for our rights. We must so.

I’ve heard some people say, too, that the UP administration must start doing something – what that something is for them, I do not know, they understand their tongues more than I do – before other UP students suffering from the same financial woes, among others, as that of Kristel Tejada commit suicide. The logic behind it, if any, escapes me. It operates on the premise that the UP administration should act squarely on the basis of an irrational fear, the fear that death will be the rule rather than the exception. The pronouncement and the premise it stands on miss the point by a wide mile. The point is this: the UP administration must do “something” not because impoverished students will hang themselves the moment they find a tree and a rope, but because education is a right, education that is affordable and, therefore, accessible. Otherwise, the UP administration’s recourse, if it isn’t its modus operandi yet, is to tolerate the high costs of education in its backyard unless the students start taking their lives.

Kristel Tejada’s story gives face to the adage “one death too many,” for if indeed the current enrollment scheme in UP is beyond reproach, the very thought of suicide would not have been enough to prod her to take it to its ultimate conclusion. But she is now gone to an eternal muteness, and the circumstances surrounding her death teach us precisely why no one is supposed to die under a scheme that is regaled, presumably at most, as one for the welfare of students. But it is not. It must be exposed for what it is, and it cannot be helped. Commercialized education kills.

Putting her death beyond the ambit of political discourse – depoliticizing it – and placing it solely in the context of the private sphere is an insult to the millions of masses who deserve more than lip service from bureaucrats. It is akin to saying that you share the same circumstances as that of Kristel and her parents but you are not allowed to share the same grief, the same anger. Kristel’s mother herself knows where to situate her grief and anger – right smack in political discourse. To be sure, Kristel’s death is a sensitive matter, but it is sensitive precisely because it stands for everything that is politically wrong in this country. Alas, bureaucrats like CHED chairperson Patricia Licuanan would rather harp on the idea of what is unconscionable, which reflects the reduction of transcendent sociopolitical issues down to the isolated individual level. The view of the sky down that well won’t cut the cheese.

Post updated as of March 16, 6:39 pm.


Lady_Myx said...

visiting here :D


kae said...

the sad part is everything, just about everything is, or becoming so commercialized. its all about the money and nothing but.

SPLICE said...

Many, if not most, of the things that we experience in this country are basically the manifestations of neoliberalism.