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UP refutes claims of infiltration, hits NPA student list
UP president Danilo Concepcion said that these charges pose “very real danger” to students, faculty and staff because such assumptions lack any factual evidence. He reiterated that UP does not condone violence, terrorism or coercion as a means of political action.
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UP refutes claims of infiltration, hits NPA student list

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The top official of the University of the Philippines (UP) condemned the military’s recent allegations that some colleges and offices at the university have knowingly condoned supposed infiltration by communist groups.

UP president Danilo Concepcion said that these charges pose “very real danger” to students, faculty and staff because such assumptions lack any factual evidence. He reiterated that UP does not condone violence, terrorism or coercion as a means of political action.

“The UP administration is unaware of and has received no specifics regarding these recent allegations and the circumstances surrounding them. At worst, these allegations pose a very real danger to the lives and safety of our students, faculty, staff and the members of the UP community. These dangers come not only from elements of the military and the police, but also from vigilantes who seek to take justice into their own hands,” he said.

The military made the claim as part of their justification for the termination of the 1989 agreement between UP and the Department of National Defense (DND), which prohibits uncoordinated entry of the military inside university campuses.

Alumni eye legal action

Several UP alumni are considering legal action after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) released a list of supposed New People’s Army (NPA) members captured or killed during military encounters.

On Friday, a Facebook page named “Armed Forces of the Philippines Information Exchange” published a list of 28 supposed UP alumni who reportedly joined the NPA. While the original post has been taken down, several other pages have picked up the material and have shared it online.

“We want to hold people accountable for this reckless publication of a list and our malicious inclusion in that list. We’re considering cyber libel and other legal actions,” said Raffy Aquino of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

In separate statements, former Department of Health (DOH) undersecretary and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president Alex Padilla, Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia president Marie Liza Dacanay, playwright Liza Magtoto, business journalist Roel Landingin and former environment secretary Elmer Mercado similarly denounced their inclusion in the list.

UP Diliman chancellor Fidel Nemenzo expressed concern over the publication of the list, saying it sends a message that the entire university is under attack. “After all the millions poured into military intelligence, I do not understand why the only thing they can come up is a list like this,” he said.

No AFP garden

In a separate statement, officials of Barangay UP Campus in Quezon City disputed the AFP’s claims that it maintains an urban gardening project inside the university.

On Jan. 21, a day after the termination of the agreement was announced, soldiers entered the UP Diliman campus to supposedly visit their urban gardening project.

“Barangay UP Campus has maintained our urban garden project for a number of years now even before this present administration. I am appalled that Barangay UP Campus was used for whatever intention of the AFP to justify their presence within our barangay and for the issue on the abrogation of the UP-DND accord of 1989,” said barangay chairperson Zenaida Lectura.

Barangay kagawad Danilo Arceo said the military only donated seedlings for the project but was not involved in the garden’s operations. “Unknowingly, some soldiers went inside the garden and put up a marker indicating that it was their project. I learned about it when it was posted by the university and the headlines of the evening news. It never occurred to me that they will use the said visit with the issue of the UP-DND accord abrogation,” he said.

DILG to review pact

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) spokesman Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the department would meet with UP officials this week to review its own agreement that limits police presence in the UP system.

“The non-academic areas in UP have increased through the years and crime has been increasing, thus we need to discuss ways on how we can maintain peace and order in those areas,” Malaya said in a statement.

The 1992 UP-DILG agreement was signed by then UP president Jose Abueva and then DILG secretary Rafael Alunan III. Despite a provision in its agreement that tasks its teams to meet at least twice a year, the DILG and UP has not met for dialogue for years.

Probe abrogation

Yesterday, House Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza pushed for a congressional inquiry on DND’s decision to unilaterally nullify its 1989 deal with UP. Atienza said DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana should be made to explain his move.

“Congress should investigate this matter as soon as possible. Secretary Lorenzana, you should explain yourself. Why are you doing this? Are you branding all UP campuses as communist hotbeds and recruitment centers? If anyone is violating the law, then the military can act without putting the entire student body in a bad light or under threat. The military, after all, has enough intelligence funds to move in and out of campuses without disturbing the good relations brought about by the agreement,” Atienza said. – Romina Cabrera, Edu Punay

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