(UPDATE) A student in a state university in Manila was found dead Friday morning, with reports floating the possibility of suicide over financial constraints.
Kristel Tejada, 16, a freshman Behavioral Science student at the University of the Philippines Manila, killed herself at around 7 a.m. Mar. 15, the Manila Collegian said via Facebook.
UP Manila's official student publication added that "financial constraints may have triggered the suicide as Tejada was forced to file for leave of absence (LOA) last Wednesday."
Tejada is the eldest of five children of a taxi driver and a housewife, the Manila Collegian said.
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A university professor meanwhile earlier said Tejada had filed for leave of absence due to UP Manila's "no late payment" policy.
"[S]tudents are advised to file LOA if they failed to meet the deadline of tuition payment," UP Manila Prof. Carl Marc Ramota said via Facebook.
The "no late payment" and "forced LOA" policies have been called "anti-student" since their implementation last year.
The new rules have also been slammed for failing to ease students' financial burden amid recent tuition hikes in the university.
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In a statement late Friday, UP Manila officials said they deeply mourn Tejada's death, adding that they will extend financial assistance to her family.
"As we continue the pursuit of excellence and relevance in our programs and services, we commemorate Krisel's life as a student even for just a short time and always remember her desire to be a good student and daughter," UP Manila said in the statement.
"Each of us will react to Krisel's death in our own way," it added. "Krisel has touched our lives in her unique way and for that, we will always be grateful."
UP Student Regent Cleve Arguelles, for his part, said he was "saddened by the news [but] still outraged by the policy."
"The case of Kristel Tejada was not a suicide," Arguelles said via Facebook Friday.
"She was killed by the system--a system that refuses to recognize that education is a right, that life is measured in your capacity to pay," he added.
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