UP, PUP ex­ecs hit ‘old Red scare’

PNP presents NPA mem­bers who say stu­dents visit rebel camps as part of im­mer­sion ac­tiv­i­ties

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - METRO - By Matthew Rey­sio-Cruz @MatthewINQ —WITH A RE­PORT FROM JAYMEE T. GAMIL

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.

Wrong ba­sis

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.

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