by Juan Sebastian Evangelista
The AFP red-tagged student activists in a university that is known to be a bastion of activism. This is not new for the student activists of UP. The military is shameful for abusing their capacity as lecturers for the orientation of the ROTC program and overturning its content by releasing state propaganda. It is utterly irresponsible for a state institution to parade pictures of progressive groups and brand them as terrorists. Aside from lack of proof, this furthers the censorship that the administration attempts to forward. It is apparent that there is persistent attempt to quell freedom of expression and dissent. Not only does this contradict the espoused democracy that is enshrined in our constitution, but it also serves as a gateway for dictatorship and fascism. By indoctrinating dissent into an illegal activity, the state is made clear in its attempts to monopolize public opinion.
The military discusses terrorism and declares activists as enemies of the people when they only need to look at their backyard to see the countless human rights violations and fear-mongering made under their name. The military is known to be the main culprits in enforcing land grabbing, killings of people in minority groups, extra-judicial killings, and human rights violations. Their claim that they are fighting for national security is ironic when they are at the forefront of endangering the lives of the youth by red-baiting and red-tagging individuals and organizations who are expressing dissent. It is ironic that in a mere lecture, they needed more than 40 personnel to flaunt authority whereas fruitful discussion cannot be attained without intimidation.
How ironic it is that no less than the chancellor himself gave the opening remarks to a lecture that became an instrument for state forces to endanger the lives of the students. How shameful it is for the administration when it continually avoids confrontation with its constituents but always find time to attend to persons outside of their duties. How shameful it is for this administration that allows oppressive elements to enter the institution, when the university itself prides itself of its martyrs that fought and died for the nation. We can recall how the military robbed the university of many of its students during the Martial law era. When student activism and safety is downplayed by no less than our university’s administration, do we, in our full capacities as students of the university, rely on them?
We should see the paramount importance of the university as an entity independent of state propaganda. It should not be meddled upon by the affairs of the military that forwards the status-quo because it is in the spirit of the university to shy away from the monopoly of conformism. It is important to recognize and respect the spirit of the LFS-DND Accord and the Ramos-Abueva Accord. We should not forget that it is made in spirit of the freedom of the academe and that it should be free from the intimidation and harassment of state forces.
When the military aims the barrel of their guns towards the people, it is clear that the finger at the trigger is that of an oppressive government. It is made apparent by the shameful display of the Armed Forces of the Philippines – even in their rabid pursuit of their contentious operations, they would not stop even at the expense of the safety of the people. However, the people do not forget and the people will continue to hold the military accountable for their sins, for we cannot stomach such attacks on activism, when, historically, it has been at the forefront of the fight for the rights of the people and is persistent in championing the struggle of the masses, and in essence a manifestation of the espoused UP spirit. [P]