By Jan Carlo Anolin
Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate on Wednesday said authorities should respect schools as a “neutral ground”, rejecting the proposal to let the police patrol campuses.
“Kailangan irespeto natin ‘yan dahil ang mga campuses dapat venue kung saan ang free-flowing ideas [ay] walang pananakot,” Zarate said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.
(We have to respect that because campuses should be a venue to discuss free-flowing ideas without feeling intimidated.)
On Sunday, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, said lawmakers should pass a law allowing members of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to conduct their own form of “indoctrination” within schools.
Dela Rosa, in particular, said members of the police community relations group or the military’s civilian military-unit should be given access to the campuses and be allowed to talk to students as well.
“’Pag may presence diyan ng uniformed personnel, ano bang gagawin nila diyan? Ang papasok sa isip mo ay maniniktik ito,” Zarate said.
(If there’s a presence of uniformed personnel in schools, what will they do? You would expect them conduct surveillance.)
“Ang campus kasi, pinag-uusapan diyan lahat ng ideas at mahirap na sikilin mo ‘yung karapatan ng kabataan na pag-usapan kung ano gusto nila pag-usapan [at] maging kritikal sa pamahalaan,” the Bayan Muna partylist solon added.
(A campus is a venue where different ideas are being discussed and it is hard if you will oppress the right of the youth to talk about whatever they want [and] if they want to be critical to the government.)
This is also in relation to the cases of missing students who allegedly joined left wing groups they met inside their schools. Some of the victims were studying in private schools like Far Eastern University (FEU) and University of the East (UE).
Zarate cited that the University of the Philippines (UP) is one of the schools in the country that is open in discussing different ideologies such as marxism and socialism.
In one of the events, however, he recalled a certain organization being red-tagged after showing a video presentation about martial law.
“Napakahirap ng ganon. Wala namang mag-prevent sa mga pulis na sa ibang mga venue. For example, [kapag] magpaliwanag sila kung ano ‘yung gusto nila ipaliwanag [sa mga estudyante],” the solon furthered.
(That would be really hard. There is no one that would prevent the police from entering other venues. For example, if they want to dicuss whatever they want [to the students].)
For his part, Interior Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said there is no stopping for the PNP from going inside schools, which is the “market places of ideas”. The military, however, is a different matter to discuss.
“So why should we remove one sector from the market place of ideas? Papasukin mo rin ‘yung pulis para makapagpaliwanag doon (Let the police enter so that they can have a discussion too),” Malaya said.
The PNP is civilian in nature and is an internal security force that is not a tool for repression or dissent, the interior undersecretary said.
“Maybe the PNP can also talk about the same things. Why marxism and leninism is not good for the Philippines and why it is a dead ideology? Why it has been repudiated by all countries in the world except for a few?” Malaya added.
Earlier, the Senate Committee on Public Order, headed by Dela Rosa, conducted a hearing on the alleged “kidnapping” of students by progressive youth organizations based on the testimonies of some parents.
Dela Rosa said 513 minors allegedly recruited by groups with links to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) had already been neutralized in the past 20 years, based on data provided by the military.