By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras
UNIVERSITIES tagged as being among the recruitment grounds for communist rebels have criticized the military in separate statements.
“The UP Diliman University Student Council strongly condemns this blatant act of red-tagging students of these universities. It is a clear threat to the students who bravely criticize the government, and the President himself, (Rodrigo R. Duterte),” read the council’s statement on Thursday, Oct. 4.
“The unlawful harassment and the clearly baseless allegations of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) coupled with the recent order of Duterte to ‘neutralize the CPP’ is undeniably a great threat to the safety of those labeled as members of such group,” the student body also said.
Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) said in its statement, “Absent any proof or factual basis, the statement by the AFP should be rectified immediately. Such statement undermines the safety and security of the students of Emilio Aguinaldo College as they are now looked upon as possible communists or rebels.”
University of Santo Tomas (UST) Secretary-General Jesus Miranda said in a statement through The Varsitarian on Oct. 3, “Siguro ang point dito ay kailangan muna ma-prove na bakit kasama ang UST. Ano ang proof na kasama siya? You (AFP) have to prove it.”
He added that AFP might be “stereotyping…because we are a Catholic university and there is a perception that we are against the present government. Is that why we are being tagged?”
The student council of the University of the East-Manila said in its statement, “We are one with all the Filipino People who want a more efficient and effective administration that puts the welfare of the citizens first before the interests of the few. Moreover, we will address the issue and coordinate with our administrators to assure that we, students, are practicing our rights in accordance with what is enshrined in our laws.”
The statement also read, “The USC calls…our fellow students to be more vigilant and more critical regarding information that surface on social media platforms. We want to remind everyone that our voice is powerful, let us use it judiciously.”
In an interview with DZMM on Thursday morning, General Carlito G. Galvez Jr., AFP chief, said the military is still validating the list of universities.
“We’re still validating it kasi apparently…ang ano lang namin they are very worried dun sa nakuha naming dokumento may mga listing, ‘yun andun sa dokumento ng CPP-NPA….” ([Our concern] is that [we] are very worried about the document of the [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army] on the listing [of schools].)
Other schools tagged by Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., AFP assistant deputy chief-of-staff, are Adamson University, Ateneo de Manila University, Caloocan City College, EARIST-Eulogio Amang Rodgriguez, De La Salle University, Far Eastern University, Lyceum College, Philippine Normal University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines , San Beda College, University of the East-Caloocan, University of Makati, University of Manila, and University of the Philippines-Manila.
According to Mr. Parlade, the schools are screening films about the martial-law era under Ferdinand E. Marcos. He also cited complaints from parents about their children being “brainwashed.”
Not a few sectors had earlier called on a deeper familiarization among campuses with the martial-law era, amid such controversies as the burial of the dictator Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery on the watch of the AFP.
Mr. Galvez in his interview with DZMM said the military is open to a dialogue with school administrators, students, the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry S. Roque, for his part, said, “Quite frankly, if you ask me, it (the list) hardly surprises me…But the reality is, none of the schools will openly endorse such a recruitment. And this recruitment is undertaken in a secret manner.”
“But let’s face it, they are recruiting. It’s a statement of fact. But we have no doubt that none of these schools are openly supportive of such initiatives,” Mr. Roque also said.