Classes at state U in NorthCot to resume Monday

KABACAN, North Cotabato (MindaNews/15 June) – Classes will resume on Monday at the state-owned University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato after a two-week standoff between authorities and the group of protesters calling for the ouster of the school president.

Calling themselves the Oust Derije Movement, the protesters are accusing USM president Dr. Jesus Derije of corruption and abuse of authority.

Dr. Alemin Sencil, a leader of the group, announced the resumption of classes and normal operations in the campus in a press conference Friday in this town.

The announcement followed a two-day negotiation between Cotabato second district Rep. Nancy Catamco and some leaders of the group.

On Friday, Catamco showed the rallyists a copy Derije’s letter that he was taking a 29-day leave of absence, and a memorandum order from Commission on Higher Education Chair Patricia Licuanan designating lawyer Christopher Cabilen as officer-in-charge.

Cabilen is Catamco’s legal officer.

Catamco assured the investigation on the graft cases against Derije would continue.

In a text message to Catamco, Sencil said: “We find problem in the holding of program on Monday and inviting leaders who have been working for the resolution of the USM crisis. Because of that, we will open the gate. There would be no program. No more invited political leaders. We will just open the gates so that all people can enter and exit the USM.”

Members of the Regional Mobile Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP) based in General Santos City will be deployed in different areas inside and outside the campus.

PNP-12 regional director Chief Supt. Harold Calima said the move will ensure the safety of all people inside USM.

“We’re here to ensure the normal flow of operations inside the USM. This is our mandate,” said Calima during the press conference.

The gates at the USM have been padlocked the past six months owing to the protest against Derije. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)