By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The University of the Philippines (UP) has expressed alarm over the continued “red-baiting” of its students and faculty by the military and police.
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan noted that “once again” the UP, together with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), “has been the target of red-baiting that can only cause anxiety among parents and students while encouraging the military and the police to harass UP faculty and students.”
“This is why red-baiting tactics always alarm us,” Tan said on allegations that UP students are being forced to join the New People’s Army (NPA). Aside from causing distress to students and their parents, “we worry about how the red-baiting impact on soldiers and police, especially in rural areas.”
Citing earlier reports of the police that UP and PUP students “were brought to Laguna for immersion activities and forced to join” the group. “I want to emphasize that in UP Diliman, any out of classroom activity – from visits or museums to OJT (on-the-job training) to immersion activities (usually part of the mandatory NSTP or National Service Training Program) and field research – have to be cleared with our Office of Field Activities.”
Tan added that faculty members “need to submit a comprehensive description of the intended activity” with the details on faculty supervision, “where the students will be, who the students are, waivers (for minors) and even a certificate of physical fitness when appropriate.”
The “many requirements” of the Office for Field Activities, Tan explained, “come out of recognition of our heavy responsibility, as administrators, to assure the safety and well-being of our students and faculty, in and out of the classroom.”
Tan also noted that the UP also recognizes that “our students’ education must go beyond the narrow confines of our classrooms or campuses.” Thus, “whatever academic degree they might be pursuing, our students need to explore and appreciate the world outside of UP and to develop their competencies linked to social realities.”
In 2018, Tan said that “we have had two encounters with the military which are clearly caused by the red scare.”
Tan shared that in May last year, researchers from the College of Science’s Institute of Biology “were harassed by an Army sergeant while they were doing field work” in Palanan, Isabela.
“The sergeant threatened the researchers several times, citing their being from UP as evidence that they were rebels.” Last December, he added that one of the PhD students in linguistics from UP was “also harassed by military personnel while she was doing research” on one of the languages in Zamboanga, Sibugay. The said student was “heavily interrogated and her notebooks were examined.” The military personnel, he explained, was “insinuating that she was a rebel again simply because she was from UP.” Both “encounters” had been resolved.
“The two incidents show the dangers of red scare tactics where police and military or police might be emboldened to harass, threaten, or even harm students, researchers or faculty,” Tan said.
Tan also noted that UP will continue to “encourage” and “support” out-of-classroom learning activities, “while taking precautions including obtaining prior clearances” from local government officials. “We will also continue to coordinate with the police and the military but ask that they exert more due diligence with their men and women in the field, especially in rural areas,” he added.
Meanwhile, Tan urged the authorities to “allow UP researchers to further enrich our knowledge about our country’s history, languages, arts, culture, ecosystems, fora and fauna, without fear of harassment.”
Lastly, he appealed for the authorities to “allow” the “Iskolar ng Bayan” – whom, he said – came from families of government personnel, the military, and the police, to ”pursue a well-rounded education, in touch with, and caring about the world outside UP.”