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Ex-UP lecturer denies AFP graphic quoting him as claiming UP majority agrees with accord abrogation
This undated photo shows the Oblation statue in the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City
File photo

Ex-UP lecturer denies AFP graphic quoting him as claiming UP majority agrees with accord abrogation

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - January 27, 2021 - 11:39am

MANILA, Philippines — A former University of the Philippines lecturer claimed he was misquoted after a post by the military said he went on record to say that the "silent majority" in the university supported the abrogation of UP's deal with the defense department. 

To recall, the Department of National Defense last week scrapped its 1989 agreement with the University of the Philippines requiring state forces to secure authorization before entering the campus. Students and alumni of the university have since slammed the unilateral termination as an attack on academic freedom. 

Seemingly in defense of the abrogation, the Civil Relations Service of the AFP on Sunday, January 24 posted a quote card graphic it attributed to one Michael Eric Castillo, an alumnus and former lecturer of the university. 

"UP as an institution is not your enemy. There are more officials in UP who do not fight against the government and who follow the laws and regulations of our country," the graphic quoted him as saying in mixed Filipino and English.

"How can we say that the majority doesn't agree with the abrogation? You try to do a survey. It's not true that the majority of UP alumni is against the government," he supposedly added.  

No basis for 'silent majority' claim

However, the post's caption reads: "Silent majority ng UP Community suportado ang abrogation ng UP-DND Agreement. - Mr. Michael Eric Castillo, UP Alumnus and Former Senior Lecturer."

Speaking in an interview aired over ANC's "Headstart", Castillo denied making such a statement, saying: "If there is a categorical claim that I said there is a silent majority, then that is wrong because I don’t have basis for saying so."

He was, however, careful to point out that he was in favor of the abrogation, as he felt the accord was "premised on mistrust towards" uniformed personnel. 

READ: What prompted the signing of the UP-DND accord in 1989?

"Why would a mere presence of the military and police preclude the university and students from pursuing critical and progressive thinking?" he asked.

"Why would communists be scared?...UP already provides a space for alternative views to flourish. The accord should not have been there in the first place."

AFP 'inconsistencies' in information

This is not the first time the AFP was caught peddling misinformation on the matter. 

On Wednesday, January 20, a Facebook page named “Armed Forces of the Philippines Information Exchange” published a list of 28 supposed UP alumni who, they claimed, went on to join the NPA and were later killed or captured by state forces.

However, a number of those on the list who were neither dead nor captured by the military, came out to deny the allegations made and cast fear over the possible effects of the list to their personal safety. 

The AFP’s Civil Military Operations Office has since apologized for "inconsistencies" on the post but stopped short of explaining why such a list was relevant to publish in the first place. 

READ: AFP apologizes for red-tagging UP alumni

If Castillo indeed never made such a statement, it is not clear where the military got the quote to attribute to him.

The CRSAFP has since issued a statement clarifying its post. "The CRSAFP has no intention to disrespect and mislead the public in providing information. The quotes were accurate as they lifted from the actual statements made by Mr. Eric Castillo during the Up Up Pilipinas Radio Program on January 22, 2021," it said in a statement Tuesday.

Why does this matter?

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
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