By Taj Lagulao
Amid the current Covid-19 crisis, four student volunteers in UPLB received anonymous text messages red-tagging them and threatening them with death threats last Wednesday, March 25.
The students were volunteers of the Serve the People Brigade Taskforce Cure (STPB TF Cure).
As the relief arm of the University Student Council, the STPB – UPLB aims to unify the collective efforts of the UPLB community to help other communities. STPB TF Cure (Taskforce Community Unit Response) is a task force formed in response to the current health crisis caused by COVID-19 in the country. For the last few weeks they have been distributing food to stranded people in the community.
Prior to the death threats received by student volunteers on March 25, volunteers from STPB TF Cure received death threats in two different occasions. (CFNR Student leader bit.ly/CFNRVolThreats, another student volunteer received death threats bit.ly/STPBVolRedtagged)
Angelo Aurigue, USC Councilor and spokesperson of STPB, was one of the four volunteers that received death threats.
“Ang STPB naman, in partnership sa mga alliances nito ay patuloy ang pagpapalabas ng statmetents na hindi ho pagiging terorista ang pag rise up to the occasion. Ang daming nangangailangan ng tulong bakit tayo magdadamot ng helping hand, and bakit din kamo minamasama ang pagtulong sa kapwa,” Aurigue said.
He emphasized how STPB have been taking efforts to try and explain how volunteerism and helping others wasn’t wrong.
In addition, he lambasted the lack of response of the UPLB administration in making sure that the students who were being threatened were okay. “Alam mo to be honest nakakasama ng loob yung kawalan ng admin ng any care or like, pag checheck sa aming mga na-redtag kung okay lang ba kami. Parang di nila sineseryoso yung threats, na para bang hindi nakaka anxious para sa amin,” he added.
Last year, the University Student Council faced UPLB officials in a dialogue to push for the declaration of the University as a safe haven. However, no resolution was adopted in the dialogue. Since the implementation of EO70 by the Duterte regime, the state’s crackdown on activism heightened. Progressive organizations like Anakabayan, Gabriela Youth, League of Filipino Students, and Kabataan Partylist were tagged as terrorist front organizations by military personnel. (related: bit.ly/DLUmaliRedTag)
Meanwhile, Noreen Flores of STPB shared her experience from the incident. “It was actually my first time to receive such threats and honestly, I wasn’t sure what to feel. I was a bit terrified but at the same time I was furious that a lot of student leaders who were putting their life on the line received death threats. I just hoped that whoever was sending these messages realize that we are in a crisis and rather than red tagging students, he/she direct his/her effort into helping the community. Still, the support I got from my friends and STPB fam made it possible for me to continue what I’m doing right now. Because together, we can overcome any challenge.”
Noting the continuous attempts to strike fear to student leaders, Flores called on to other students to continue to serve the people. “Despite this, we firmly believe that activism in any form should be free from any form of harassment. While we continue to call for #StopTheAttacks when it comes to the Duterte regime’s relentless attacks on activists, we also call on the UPLB admin to provide a safe haven for students. In this particular instance, we were threatened by virtue of volunteerism, what more can those who attempt to silence and curtial our rights to those who are vulnerable.” she added. [P]
Photos from Serve the People Brigade – UPLB
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