USM classes suspended due to protest rally inside campus

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 16 Jan) – Classes have been suspended until Friday at the state-run University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato after a rally staged by protesters, mostly faculty and students of the institution, became “unruly”, a school official said.

USM President Jesus Antonio G. Derije. Photo courtesy of
USM President Jesus Antonio G. Derije. File photo courtesy of

The rally, according to Dr. Jesus Antonio Derije, university president, will continue until Thursday after the protesters secured a permit from the local government unit (LGU).

The school management decided to suspend the classes, including those in the laboratory high school, to prevent students from being hurt while the rally is going on.

Derije has ordered the university’s security personnel to protect at all cost the school’s premises.

Supt. Leo Ajero, chief of Kabacan PNP, said the protesters, now close to a thousand, were able to gain entrance by forcibly opening the main gate along the USM Avenue in Poblacion, Kabacan, around 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The protesters, since then, were gathered in front of the administration building of the USM where Derije is holding office.

The protesters – led by Dr. Alimen Sencil, USM’s deputy director for Community Extension Services; Dr. William dela Torre of the College of Fisheries; and Dr. Khaironesa Pahm – want Derije to step down from his post due to alleged graft and corrupt practices.

They said they will continue their protest until Derije is kicked out from the school.

Sencil said the USM president no longer has “moral ascendancy” to lead the university because of several graft complaints.

But Derije, whose reappointment order from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was handed to him on January 4, is holding on to his position.

Derije, based on CHED’s order, will stay until 2016.

He vehemently denied the graft charges, saying he only inherited the problems during the past administration but is now fixing them.

In fact, he said, the regional office of the Commission on Audit has just completed its auditing of the school.

“Incidentally, the COA has ordered some of those leading the rally to shed light on some questionable transactions where they were allegedly involved,” he said. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)