At the height of the UP-DND Accord controversy, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson BGen. Edgard Arevalo voiced his support for the Department of National Defense’s (DND) decision to unilaterally terminate it. (READ: UP strikes back against Accord “termination”)
His justification caught everyone by surprise: “Paano na lamang po kung mayroong shabu laboratory, for instance, sa loob ng University of the Philippines community or campus and meron tayong valid arrest warrant at search warrant?”
“Development for whom?” asked the UPLB Graduate School Student Council (UPLB GSSC) in a Facebook post, then dropping a bombshell that ruffled the most feathers with a screenshot: a 2017 post CDC Alumni Association (CDCAA) awarding Arevalo as that year’s Distinguished Alumnus in Communication for Peace
Then after, the College of Development Communication Student Council (CDCSC), calling Devcom students and other constituents to action, quickly urged the CDC Alumni Association (CDCAA) President Prof. Romel Daya to revoke the award.
“Being the ‘mouthpiece’ of an institution that serves authorities who continuously take advantage of the Filipino people’s weaknesses should NOT be recognized,” the council said in their email.
The comment was in reference to the aforementioned CDCAA post, where they described Arevalo as “the mouthpiece of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).”.
CDCSC chair Camile Villanueva commented on what the field was all about.
“Yung pinaka-essential ng Devcom ay i-utilize yung iba’t ibang strategies, channels, medium, at media [sic] sa pagsusulong ng pangangailangan ng mga underprivileged, ng mga nasa laylayan para makamit nila yung maximum potential nila at makatulong sa ikauunlad ng bayan natin,” said Villanueva.
Furthermore, Villanueva explained how the AFP, which Arvelo represents, sown disorder through reported human rights violations (HRVs), especially the “communist witch hunt” that has lead to red-tagging, illegal arrests, and even deaths, despite claiming to “push forward peace for the people.”
However, Villanueva noted that everyone in UP is free to perceive things, and that the institution does not “dictate” how they should think and act.
“As much as we are proud of our alumni like Chel Dikono for upholding yung core value ng pagiging UP student na progressive na ika nga’y utak at puso, nandiyan din naman yung mga iba pa nating graduates katulad nga ni Ferdinand Marcos. Yung diktador na si Marcos, at si Gloria Arroyo [ay] ilang sa mga nagdaang pangulo natin na yumapak din, [na] pumatay ng napakaraming tao,” said Villanueva.
Case in-point, when Villanueva was asked about Anna Mae Lamentillo, a CDC graduate who now works as the chair of the controversial Build, Build, Build infrastructure program, she mentioned the idea of free will.
“But then nandiyan yung free will. Hindi maididikta ng kahit sino mang indibidwal o ng isang institusyon o pamantasan kung kanino ka magsisilbi, kung kanino ka maglalaan ng serbisyo para makamit yung mga ambisyon mo sa buhay, and I think that’s the case for Anna Mae Lamentillo,” Villanueva said.
Such sentiments were echoed in a unity statement written by CDCSC and cosigned by willing students.
“Protests and contentions that arose on the recognition of Arevalo as one of the college’s distinguished alumni is no surprise given his alliance with the AFP which, as an institution, has its longstanding history of persistent impunity with attacks and human rights violations on indigenous communities, peasants, workers, students, and various progressive leaders and groups,” the concerned CDC community said, in addition to calling for a reevaluation of criteria for distinguished alumni selection to avoid future misrepresentation.
As with Villanueva, the statement added that the “peace communication” recognition of a member of the AFP was “paradoxical” given their history of abuse.
“As the spokesperson of the AFP, he has shown endless support for the culture of impunity inculcated by the Duterte administration that manifests over their militaristic campaigns such as the war on drugs, their counterinsurgency efforts, and their countless cases of arrests, red-tagging, abductions, and extrajudicial killings,” CDCSC said.
Furthermore, the group expressed frustration over how someone who graduated from a college fighting misinformation would be at the forefront of supporting fake news and propaganda.
“With his support on bringing back pro-military ‘advocacy groups’ on Facebook that share endless threads of red-tagging and vilification of progressive individuals and groups, it is not surprising that he would completely disregard the very ideals that our college and university have taught us and succumb to the very system of deception brought about by the Duterte administration,” CDCSC said.
Although the CDCAA released a statement that condemned the unilateral termination of the UP-DND Accord, the association will still be deliberating . [P]
Photo from CDC Alumni Association / Facebook