UP, PUP execs hit ‘old Red scare’
PNP presents NPA members who say students visit rebel camps as part of immersion activities
Officials of two state universities on Monday expressed alarm over the Philippine National Police’s claim that their students were visiting New People’s Army (NPA) camps as part of immersion activities, then being intimidated by rebels into joining the insurgency.
The fresh allegations levied against University of the Philippines (UP) and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) students left officials with a sense of déjà vu months after both schools, along with 16 others, were linked by the military to a supposed plot to oust the President.
“We’re very, very disturbed,” UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan told the Inquirer. “It’s the old ‘Red scare’ at work.”
Both Tan and Jose Dalisay, UP vice president for public affairs, said it was their first time to hear of these immersions at hinterland communities in Laguna province, information the police allegedly gleaned from NPA surrenderers.
Tan said he would not be surprised if the PNP were to use the former rebels’ statements as a basis for monitoring UP students, similar to its recent and widely criticized profiling of members of the militant Alliance of Concerned Teachers.
For his part, PUP’s student regent, Ron Cervantes, called the allegations “nothing but lies,” saying these placed “students, teachers, officials and all members of the PUP com- munity in danger.”
Cervantes, a student of the PUP extension school in Maragondon, Cavite province, said the police had recently administered a survey inside the campus that sought to elicit information about members of progressive organizations.
The PNP Calabarzon office that conducted the survey was also the one which revealed the alleged immersions in Laguna province.
“They are using these as an excuse because UP and PUP are known for being at the forefront of the fight against the administration’s policies. That is how desperate they are,” Cervantes said.
According to Tan, the PNP’s use of immersion activities as a means to stoke fear was an attack on the philosophy behind a UP education, which places a primacy on learning outside the classroom.
“We continue to uphold our right to educate students in a holistic way which includes exposure to realities. We are not about to stop our field activities,” he said. “We cannot be an ivory tower—that is to betray our mission as educators.”
PNP’s claim confirmed
At a press conference in Camp Crame on Monday, the Calabarzon police director, Chief Supt. Edward Carranza, said that 20 NPA members from Kalayaan, Laguna province, who surrendered over the weekend confirmed the PNP’s claim that students from the two universities were being recruited by insurgents.
The surrenderers said the students periodically visited Sitios Pulot, Magololon and Balay Kahoy at Barangay San Antonio in Kalayaan.
“It’s part of their immersion to see what life is like in the mountains, [but] we also have reports that while [the students] are there, [the NPA] will tell them that they can never come down because they will be targeted by the military and police,” Carranza said.
“That’s why we have a project to monitor schools because there are groups that are just front organizations for [the recruitment of students],” he added.
One of the NPA members presented to reporters said that the students—two to eight at a time—were supposed to stay for just one night with the group only to be scared by the NPA into joining the movement.