In a memorandum filed by the UP Office of the Student Regent (OSR), it was declared that August 20 will be a “UP Day of Walkout and Action.” This is in response to the allegations by the police and military on progressive organizations and individuals, claiming the brainwash of students for the recruitment of the left.
Memorandum JIBP 2019-01 emphasized that the presence of state forces would result to massive surveillance to the UP community and will endanger academic freedom.
“The proposed entry and intervention of the police and military in state universities including UP is expected to result to massive surveillance and monitoring on our students, faculty, and officials, especially those who are vocally critical. Our academic freedom is at high risk of being taken away from us as we become vulnerable to baseless accusations, intimidation, and harassment,” the OSR stated.
The OSR also stated that campus militarization equates to martial law in the campus, and added that the existing accord between UP and state forces were a product of the student movement who stood up for their rights.
On a press briefing last August 8, Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde of the Philippine National Police (PNP) called to review the accords preventing the presence of police in schools, particularly the University of the Philippines, to prevent the alleged recruitment of communists in campuses.
This was followed by a request to Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and his committee to review UP-DND accord, an agreement prohibiting police and military presence in the University.
“I have already asked the good Senator to review the memorandum of understanding or agreement between the DND and UP,” Albayalde said.
Moreover, on a senate probe last August 14, the senators inquired on the alleged disappearance of minors and cases of kidnapping by national democratic mass organization Anakbayan. The hearing was attended by Relissa Lucena, one of the mothers of the allegedly missing activists, who testified that their daughter was kidnapped by Anakbayan.
Alicia Lucena, Relissa’s daughter, attended the forum to refute this, and claimed that she was not kidnapped by the youth group.
“Hindi ako nawawala o kinidnap. Sumama ako sa Anakbayan dahil nakita ko ang pangangailangan para sa pagkilos ng kabataan,” Alicia said.
Additionally, Alicia contended that she was already of legal age and could already decide for herself.
“18 na ako tapos may sapat na akong kaalaman. Yung mga sinasabi nila sa akin na obligasyon ko na sumunod sa kanila dahil nag-invest sila sa akin, parang sinasabi nila na investment lang ang anak. Ayoko maging investment lang dahil hawak ko yung sarili kong buhay. May sarili akong mga desisyon, buhay ko to eh,” Alicia stated.
Following the senate inquiry, a unity statement signed by all UP student councils was released through the UP Office of the Student Regent page, condemning the intention of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and PNP to review the memorandums regarding police and military presence in state universities.
“At present, the 1989 UP-Department of National Defense agreement under the general Soto-Enrile strictly prohibits police and military presence and operations in any UP campus without authorization from the UP administration. The intrusion of these state forces inside the university will result to massive surveillance and monitoring on the students, especially leaders and vocal critics, in their attempt to pacify the ever-growing resistance among our ranks,” the councils stated.
The councils also stated that UP shall remain a zone of peace that upholds academic freedom and the right to dissent.
“In unison, we declare that the University of the Philippines shall remain a zone of peace and its spaces shall cater to the free expression of ideas and dissent. We will never allow martial law to be implemented in our campuses,” the councils stated.
Moreover, due to the countless cases of red-tagging of state forces towards the UP community, a resolution was formed by the UPLB Council of Student Leaders (CSL) to declare the campus as a safe haven for the students. This is in line with another resolution, Resolution No. 2019-030, formed at the 48th General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) held last month at the UPV Tacloban College. [P]
Words and photo by Mark Ernest Famatigan