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Universities deny being communist recruitment havens
The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), Far Eastern University (FEU) and University of Santo Tomas (UST) over the weekend expressed their objection to Parlade’s statements stressing that their higher education institutions “neither promote nor condone recruitment activities of the (NPA) and, indeed, of any movement that aims to violently overthrow the government.”
Interaksyon/File

Universities deny being communist recruitment havens

Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - January 25, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Four of the country’s most prestigious universities have issued a joint statement to belie a claim by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that Philippine universities are recruitment havens of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), Far Eastern University (FEU) and University of Santo Tomas (UST) over the weekend expressed their objection to Parlade’s statements stressing that their higher education institutions “neither promote nor condone recruitment activities of the (NPA) and, indeed, of any movement that aims to violently overthrow the government.”

In the statement, the FEU was represented by its president Dr. Michael Alba; UST by its vice rector Fr. Isaias Tiongco, OP; DLSU by its president Br. Raymundo Suplido, FSC; and ADMU by its president Fr. Roberto C. Yap, SJ.

Parlade had earlier charged in a statement that 18 universities – including the four – are recruitment havens for leftists. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana issued early last week a unilateral termination of a 1989 agreement between the University of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense that prohibited the uncoordinated entry of government uniformed personnel in UP campuses all over the country.

“This charge, though, is really ‘getting old’ – a rehash of the public accusation the general made in 2018 – irresponsibly since cast without proof,” the four universities said.

“We take as a sacred trust our primary responsibilities to promote learning and safeguard the rights of the young who are entrusted to our care. We are committed to this mission and have always held ourselves accountable to our primary constituents, the learners, and by extension, their parents,” they added.

The four universities asserted that as Philippine schools, they value the Filipinos’ basic constitutional rights of speech, thought, assembly and organization.

“As universities with high aspirations for our country, we seek to direct our students to engage in acts that contribute to the strengthening of social cohesion, defend the country’s democratic institutions, and promote nation-building,” they said.

“And as institutions of higher learning that are stewards of the youth, repositories and producers of knowledge, and builders of communities, we must retain independence and autonomy from the State and other social institutions,” they added.

Negative image

The unilateral abrogation of the 1989 UP-DND agreement might create a negative image of the military, Vice President Leni Robredo said yesterday.

“It might not help their image if they resort to strong-arm tactics,” Robredo said in her weekly program over radio station dzXL.

“This kind of action made an impression among the people that UP is an enemy of the state, which is not the case,” she added.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has been helping the Office of the Vice President in delivering assistance to many Filipinos, according to the Vice President.

Robredo, an alumna of UP, urged the DND to sit down with the school’s officials and discuss their findings.

“If they have a basis for cancelling the accord, I hope they present it to the UP community; they should help each other in addressing the problem besetting us,” she said.

She added that she was never invited to join the communist party when she was studying at the university.

The Vice President had earlier said the termination of the UP-DND agreement was meant to silence government critics.

“Clearly, then, this is not a practical gesture, but a symbolic one. One designed to sow fear. One designed to discourage dissent. One designed to silence criticism,” she said in a statement. – Helen Flores, Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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