What schools say on military’s claims that communists are recruiting students

October 4, 2018 - 6:26 PM
UP Fighting Maroons
UP Diliman Campus (Philstar/File photo)

Universities and colleges have denounced the allegations made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines that they are places where the Communist Party of the Philippines is actively recruiting students.

The military previously released a list of 18 universities and colleges in Metro Manila that are supposedly involved in the “Red October” plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ: The historical and cultural origins of ‘Red October’

This has prompted university officials and student publications to release their own statements against the allegations.

According to De La Salle University President Bro. Armin Luistro, the AFP should directly consult with the school officials first. He previously served as education secretary under the Aquino administration.

“If there is really something substantial with their report, they would be holding dialogues with school officials, and not release intelligence information to the media,” he said.

University of Makati President Tomas Lopez added that their school has “no knowledge of any student activity linked to AFP’s claims.”

Three officials from the University of the Santo Tomas also decried the allegations.

UST Simbahayan Director Mark Abenir said, “I do not understand why they are red-tagging the University for standing up for human rights, standing up against the return of any form of dictatorial rule.”

The student council of the University of the East clarified that there is no CPP recruitment within their campus.

“We would like to rectify the statement of AFP Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. tagging the UE as a recruitment ground for communists planning to oust Pres. Duterte,” they said.

“We do not want to destabilize our government. We need to promote solutions, that serve every Filipino regardless of sector,” the student council added.

Emilio Aguinaldo College stated that their students “have no record of participation in any partisan political activity.”

Far Eastern University denied any connections with destabilization plots in an official statement. They said, “Far Eastern University is fully committed to nation-building. FEU is not promoting or condoning any on-campus movement to destabilize the government.”

Philippine Collegian, the University of the Philippines’ official student publication, warned that the military is setting the precedent for “intensified surveillance, intimidation, red-baiting, and police incursion into campuses.”

Red-baiting or red-tagging is the act of publicly denouncing individuals or groups critical of the government as “state enemies, communist terrorists or members of the communist front organizations,” according to the International Peace Observers Network.

AFP on students being ‘communists’ 

UST Simbayan Director Abenir and the Philippine Collegian accused the military of “red-baiting” the universities and schools through the list.

However, it was not the first time that students were accused of such actions.

In March 2015, campus journalists of UP Vista, the student publication of the University of the Philippines-Visayas Tacloban College, were tagged as members of the New People’s Army by the university’s own ROTC unit.

Students enrolled at the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps undergoing exercises. (Facebook/Army Reserve Command)

It was believed that the AFP controlled the UPVTC’s ROTC “to intimidate, harass, threaten and put progressive and critical-thinking students under surveillance.” This included students who were involved in UP Vista. 

The incident prompted the College Editors Guild of the Philippines to file a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights, citing violations done against the democratic rights of students.

In November 2016, government officials and the military allegedly accused Diya Menuwa, a school ran by the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services, of being an educational institution for the New People’s Army.

According to ACT Teachers party-list representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro, students and teachers of the school were harassed and intimidated.

“This goes against the constitutional mandate to ‘encourage non-formal, informal, and indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning independent, and out-of-school study programs particularly those that respond to community needs,'” Tinio said.

“We challenge all agencies to look into the allegations of the victims and to immediately put an end to all forms of attacks on Lumad schools and people’s organization,” he added.