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3 Bicol schools slam AFP for red tagging

By Mar S. Arguelles

Three Bicol universities in the Bicol region have slammed as baseless and mere propaganda the accusation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) tagging them as recruitment havens of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

The Bicol University (BU), University of Sto Tomas (UST) formerly Aquinas University of Legazpi in Albay and the Ateneo de Naga University (AdeNU) in Naga City, in separate statements have denounced the accusations as derogatory and a publicity stunt to discredit the good academic standing of their institutions.

Arnulfo Mascarinas, BU president, said the NTF-ELCAC’s statement accusing the school as recruitment haven of the NPA was a sweeping and derogatory statement without solid grounds and truthful data.

Reacting to the statement of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Army’s Southern Luzon Command chief and NTF ELCAC spokesperson, Mascarinas said “In fairness, I believe that the charges would be back-up with solid proof and truthful data as you (Parlade) cannot make such a pronouncement that this school is an alleged breeding ground of NPA as this would give a wrong picture and impression to the public.”

He said the premiere state university in Bicol has produced scientists, engineers, teachers, who are topnotchers in various board examinations. “Our graduates are occupying high positions in either government and private offices and have contributed to nation-building and regional development.”

He said in an interview that he strongly opposed the statement made by Gen. Parlade, who was once a student of BU. The release of the list of schools tagged as recruitment haven of communist places our students, faculty, and personnel in a vulnerable position, as it threatens their academic freedom. We don’t want our students to be victims of red-tagging.

Mascarinas said students with progressive minds who are full of idealism do not make them NPAs while those with critical or radical minds that can easily see social ills does not make them a communist.

Fr. Roberto Rivera, SJ, ADNU president, said the proclamation of Parlade was reckless, misguided, and simplistic in its assumptions tagging the school as a hotbed for communist recruitment and radicalization.

The statement was reckless in subjecting schools with vibrant legacies of student activism to trial-by-publicity, which would endanger students’ lives considering that many former student activists are now leaders in the highest levels of government, Rivera said.

According to Rivera, the pronouncement could not equate activism with insurgency stating that the institution can responsibly nurture the former while unequivocally rejecting the latter.

As a Catholic and Jesuit University, AdeNU disavows violence and lawlessness espoused by the communist rebellion and fully expects its students to do the same, Rivera said.

Ateneo and BU have shared the same view about the exercise of academic freedom saying it is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, as is the duty to inculcate patriotism and nationalism

Elisa Espadero, UST Legazpi Media Relation Office chief, said the issue on the accusation of the NTF ELCAC naming the school as one of the 38 schools in the country tagged as recruitment haven of NPA was already brought to the attention of the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

According to Espadero, the CEAP has discussed the issue in a meeting and the organization would issue a statement on the matter.

Earlier Virgilio Perdigon, Jr., former dean and secretary-general of UST-Legazpi in an interview said military intervention in campuses are so much a fuss.


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