UP Mindanao says to sue if community harassed after red-tagging

This November 28, 2019 photo show's UP Mindanao's Oblation in the Oblation Circle.

MANILA, Philippines —  The University of the Philippines Mindanao promises to protect its students and other members of its community after the National Security Council amplified an allegation a supposed alumnus made in a Facebook post that there is "active recruitment" for the New People’s Army on campus, a common allegation thrown at universities since 2018.

In a statement on Saturday evening, UP Mindanao Chancellor Lyre Anni Murao said this accusation caused distress to students and staff who have been put at risk of harassment both online and in-person.

"We will take legal action due to harassment, when necessary, to protect the welfare of our constituents, especially our students," Murao said.

RELATED: AFP 'red-tagged' schools using unverified information

A supposed alumnus of the state university said last week there is "active recruitment in UP campuses." He did not provide evidence, but he also claimed that he visited one of the alleged recruitment offices located off-campus.

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His statement along with that of another supposed UP Mindanao alumnus have since been included in a social media post made by the National Security Council, which is linked to an article originally published by the state-owned Philippine News Agency.

The NSC's post has since gained over 8,300 reactions on Facebook, more than 1,100 comments, and has been shared for over 15,000 times.
 
"The post may have been based on an experience of the concerned individual while he was a student about two decades ago. The post does not warrant the citing of the post as the basis of allegations from the National Security Council of the Philippines," Murao said. 

Just last week, the UP President’s Advisory Council expressed concern after the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) alleged without evidence that the state university was a breeding ground for NPA recruitment. This narrative has been frequently brought up since the military claimed the existence of a supposed "Red October" plot in schools in 2018.

The plot did not materialize but the allegations, including an erroneous list released in 2021 of University of the Philippines students who had supposedly joined the NPA and had either been captured or killed. The Armed Forces of the Philippines apologized after people on the list held a press conference to condemn the allegations and to show that they were actually alive.

READ: UP officials hit red-tagging of students

"We are one with all universities that have been similarly identified as recruitment havens of so-called enemies of the state," Murao said. "We call on the academic community to work together to sustain academic freedom and critical thinking — the hallmarks of a flourishing learning institution." — with a report from The STAR/Romina Cabrera

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