By Erma Edera
Officials from various universities and colleges in Metro Manila have denied reports that their students were allegedly being recruited by communist rebels to join their ranks as part of a plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. on Wednesday tagged at least 18 universities where the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) has allegedly been recruiting students and were using film showings on martial law to incite students to rebel against the current government.
University of Santo Tomas (UST) Secretary General Fr. Jesus Miranda Jr. said the military should prove its allegations against the university and needs to back up their claims.
“Siguro i-prove muna nila kung bakit nasama. Ano yung mga proof [at] mga detalye. Or baka naman [they are] stereotyping or because we are a Catholic university and there is a perception that we are against the present government, ganoon ba yon? Is that why we are being tagged?, “ Miranda told the Varsitarian, the official student publication of UST. [Maybe they should prove why our university was included. Where are the proofs and details. Or maybe they are stereotyping or because were are a Catholic university and there is a perception that we are against the present government? Is that why we are being tagged?]
Mark Abenir, director of UST Simbahayan Community Development Office said that “it is a big allegation against the university.”
“I do not understand why they are red-tagging the University for standing up for human rights, standing up against the return of any form of dictatorial rule,” Abenir told the Varsitarian.
University of Makati President Tomas Lopez Jr., said they “do not participate in any partisan political initiatives but rather focus on efforts to strengthen the value of citizenship in young Filipinos so they can become productive members of the society.”
“The management of University of Makati has no knowledge of any student activity linked to what the AFP claims as recruitment efforts of the CPP,” it added.
The University of the East (UE) Student Council also said there was no recruitment happening inside their campus.
“We would like to rectify the statement of AFP Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. tagging the UE as a recruitment ground for communists planning to oust Pres. Duterte. We do not want to destabilize our government. We need to promote solutions, solutions that serve every Filipino regardless of sector,” it said.
Chairperson Nickolo Domingo of Anakbayan- University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) also denounced the allegations and said that “it is a government tactic to divert the people’s attention to anti-people policies such as the TRAIN Law and rice tarrification.”
On Wednesday, Parlade identified the schools “notorious for school activism” as the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, UP Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Sta. Mesa, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), Dela Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), Adamson University, Far Eastern University (FEU), University of the East (UE) Recto and Caloocan, Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC), Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST), San Beda, Lyceum, University of Makati, Caloocan City College (University of Caloocan), University of Manila, and Philippine Normal University (PNU).
Parlade also included on the list a school named “Caloocan City College” which reportedly does not exist.
According to its website, University of Caloocan City was originally known as Caloocan City Community College when it was established in 1971 and later became Caloocan City Polytechnic College from 1974 to 2011. It became a university in 2004.