Students slam military and police allegations as ‘unfounded’

A UP official and student groups deny allegations made recently by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and a group of purported ex-communist rebels that the University serves as a recruitment ground for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan called on the AFP and the PNP to desist from tagging students and faculty members as “communists” because it exposes them to military harassment. “In May last year, researchers from our College of Science’s Institute of Biology were harassed by an Army sergeant while they were doing field work in Palanan, Isabela, and they were threatened several times, citing their being from UP as evidence that they were rebels,” Tan said in a statement.

In May last year, researchers from our College of Science’s Institute of Biology were harassed by an Army sergeant while they were doing field work in Palanan, Isabela, and they were threatened several times, citing their being from UP as evidence that they were rebels

MICHAEL TAN
UP DILIMAN CHANCELLOR


The University Student Council-Diliman (USC-Diliman) also released a statement condemning statements from the AFP and PNP labelling UP students as “communists” and “subversives.” In a statement, USC-Diliman characterizes the acts AFP and PNP as “a clear threat to the students who bravely criticize the government, and the president himself.”

“Red-tagging” and “red-baiting”

In his dissent in Zarate v. Aquino (G.R. No. 220028, 10 November 2015), Justice Marvic Leonen quotes UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s definition of “red-tagging,” also known as “red-baiting” as the “the vilification, labelling, or guilt by association of various democratic organizations. These groups are stereotyped or caricatured by the military as communist groups, making them easy targets of government military or paramilitary units.”


It should be pointed out, however, that with the repeal of Republic Act No. 1700 (Anti-Subversion Law) in 1992, membership or association to the CPP has been decriminalized. But despite the repeal, State security forces continue to harass, if not outright kill, suspected CPP members, and persist in connecting those critical to the government as CPP members.


In October last year, the AFP named 18 schools, including UP, as CPP-NPA “recruiting grounds.” The military claimed that communists are actively recruiting in these schools to oust President Rodrigo Duterte in a supposed “Red October” plot. October came and went, but no ouster plot took place.

Unverified and unsubstantiated

Purported ex-rebels that the PNP presented to the media claimed that students from UP and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) regularly visited their camps. “They would go to some far-flung communities for research but some of them would no longer go back and would choose to stay,” said alias Ka Ruben, one of the hooded ex-rebels. The two universities condemned these statements.

As of press time, existence of any proof of validation regarding the character or nature of these purported ex-rebels is yet to be established.

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