by John Albert Pagunsan
(This was originally published in Volume 44 Issue 7, September-October 2018)
UPLB Admin stays silent on Red October, OSA tells students to ‘wait’ for statement
OSA Director Peralta tells students, “It is prudent for us to wait from the Chancellor. Personally, I have a stance but we have to wait for the Chancellor.” This is after All UP Academic Employees Union President (AUPAEU) Dumlao and students appealed for a formal statement from the Chancellor after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed that universities in Metro Manila were plotting ‘Red October’ – a plan to overthrow Duterte.
Dumlao said, “Yung mga teachers at students na vocal sa mga isyu ay napagbibintangan, na-reredtag. Ang hinihingi po namin ay formal declaration from the Chancellor against red-tagging para maging safe sila.” (Teachers and students who are vocal on issues are being red-tagged. We are demanding a formal declaration from the Chancellor against red-tagging for their safety.)
Red-tagging is the act of accusing a person as a member of a Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – New People’s Army (NPA) for their political beliefs and stances that are oftentimes critical of the government.
AUPAEU President recalled the administration’s silence on accusations of UPLB faculty members as Communist Party members from an anti-communist group back in 2009. Dumlao expounded, “Nararamdaman ko po takot nila dahil [faculty, students] mismo ang nasa harap ng mga rallies.” (We felt fear because the faculty and students are always in the frontlines of rallies.)
College of Human Ecology (CHE) Student Council (SC) Acuña said that UP Diliman and the UPLB Department of Social Sciences released stances against red-tagging and supporting student movements against state fascism. Dumlao also said, “Hindi sana mahirap for the Chancellor to declare a statement dahil yung UP President mismo meron ng statement.” (It is not difficult for the Chancellor to declare a statement because the UP President release a statement.)
Acuna emphasized, “We are challenging the offices right now to make a stance. UP is a bastion of democracy.”
Despite the silence, the administration affirmed to protecting the UPLB Community when students asked for their commitment. The representative of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) said, “There is not question to that, yan talaga dapat ginagawa ng admin.” (There is no question to that, that’s what the admin is supposed to do.”
Recruitment through Film-showing
The AFP alleged that the CPP-NPA was recruiting students and faculty for the ‘Red October’ through ‘film-showing’. The Metro Manila schools listed by the AFP are Adamson University, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Emilio Aguinaldo College, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology, Far Eastern University, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Philippine Normal University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of the East – Caloocan, University of the East – Recto, University of the Philippines Diliman, University of the Philippines Manila, University of Sto. Tomas and San Beda University. The AFP initially included “Caloocan City College” that was later found to be non-existing.
Department of National Defense Sec. Lorenzana claimed that the Red October plot was ‘no longer existent’ on October 12. Despite this, the AFP alleges that the brutal murders of nine peasant farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental as part of the ‘Red October’ plot.
‘No surveillance, only ‘monitoring’ of students’
Meanwhile, the University Police Force said, “Wala kaming narinig na [student surveillance]. ‘Yung monitoring para ma-inform kami, ang purpose ay to monitor (The purpose of monitoring is for us to be informed),” when University Student Council and UPLB UNBOUND raised concerns of student surveillance.
Students have noticed that the UPF and CSB were taking of pictures of students during student activities such as protests and student mobilizations.
OSA Director Atty. Peralta asked, “If you feel that mobilizations are legal, then monitoring is also legal?”
To which University Student Council (USC) Councilor Francis de Sagun responded, “Meron pong mobilization na nangyayari at may mga UPF na police personnel (There are student mobilizations and police personnel from the UPF are present) , from an outside perspective it’s something to look out for.” Sagun expounded that mobilizations are intended to raise students’ political participation but a negative meaning is then attached to mobilizations when the UPF is present.
USC Councilor Patty Mayor said that the CSB and UPF forced students who stayed in the Student Union building after curfew hours to enlist their names and if they refuse, they were verbally harassed. Students have been organizing #OccupySU – a campaign to allow students to stay beyond curfew hours in the Student Union building to accomplish academic requirements or to organize student organization activities. The UPF said, “I am not aware [of the #OccupySU campaign].”
USC Chairperson JJ Ilagan emphasized that the #OccupySU campaign has been recognized by the Chancellor yet a memorandum for all offices on the campaign has not been disseminated. [P]