An energetic — and apparently woke — cheer dance group has drawn controversy over the weekend for joking about killing President Rodrigo Duterte.
The University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) Skimmers performed at — and won — their school’s annual cheering competition on Wednesday. Their routine included criticisms of various government policies, from the return of mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps, to the Rice Tarrification Law, to the Commission on Higher Education’s order to remove Filipino from mandatory subjects in college. However, they gained the most attention for chanting “Let’s kill this president… Joke!”
Videos of their performance have gone viral, including the one below, posted by a Ruperto Quitag on YouTube, which has been watched almost 170,000 times.
A video of the performance was reposted by Duterte defender Mocha Uson, who wrote, “Let’s kill the President? Is that what they teach at the University of the Philippines now?”
Meanwhile, MindaVote, a Facebook group composed of ardent supporters of the president, denounced the group in a post yesterday.
“They’re so brave to say ‘let’s kill this President.’ It’s all part of freedom of speech… but when people started to curse them, they complained that they shouldn’t be treated that way,” the group said.
Prior to that post, MindaVote had posted screenshots and identified the students who performed in the routine, but the posts have since been taken down.
UPV’s student council and other school organizations, meanwhile, have condemned Duterte supporters for harassing the Skimmers.
“[W]e will not and will never tolerate any kind of harassment or unjust behavior towards our constituents, whether we are facing a single troll or the whole Duterte administration. We won’t let this go unanswered,” the groups said in a statement.
Activist group Gabriela Youth sided with the Skimmers. In a statement yesterday, it said in Filipino, “Gabriela Youth condemns the harassment and threats that these students have received. As this government intensifies its fascist attacks against the youth, we should continue fighting off these criticisms. Let’s continue to be critical [of the government] and express our criticism!”
The Skimmers have yet to issue a statement regarding the controversy as of press time.
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