The UP Diliman Executive Committee expresses solidarity with the Lumad Bakwit Schools, their students and volunteer teachers who have experienced harassment from state forces in their last remaining schools in UCCP Haran in Davao, the University of San Carlos in Cebu, and the University of the Philippines Diliman in Manila. As a national university with a clear mandate of public service, our support of the lumad in their continuing efforts to finish their education because of and despite the closure of their community-built indigenous schools is true to our mission of upholding honor, excellence, and compassion, and to our continuing calls for the defense of academic freedom.
The lumad bakwit were forced by circumstances to flee their ancestral lands because of armed conflict and militarization. The orchestration of a raid of the Lumad Bakwit School in Cebu by Philippine National Police on February 15, 2021 incited fear in indigenous refugees everywhere, disrupting their classes and causing further trauma on children already suffering the effects of their forced displacement. We assert strongly that such impunity must not be allowed to continue. The terrorist scare that is continuously invoked as justification for causing harm on the youth and education workers has gone far enough.
Chad Errol Booc, one of two (2) unlawfully arrested teachers during the police raid in Cebu, was a cum laude graduate of UP Diliman’s BS Computer Science program. An honor graduate in the true sense of the word, he consistently dedicated his intellectual practice to community service even as an undergraduate student and later as an environmental activist, app developer, volunteer Math and Science teacher for indigenous children, and current petitioner against the Anti-Terrorism Law under the National Minorities cluster. For lack of any evidence on allegations thrown against Chad and his fellow teachers, we call for their immediate release.
Schools must be respected as zones of peace, protected from the violence of guns and warmongering. Schools must be preserved and cultivated as sanctuaries of learning, exploration, discourse and debate. We recognize and honor the youth who pursue their education against the most challenging odds, and stand with our educators whose vocation is difficult enough without the threat of red-tagging and illegal arrests. No educator must fear for their lives in the noble pursuit of their duties, and no armed state agent must be allowed to abuse their power in the conduct of theirs. As affirmed by this attack, we must continue to defend schools from militarization and reinforce our resolve to defend academic freedom as our constitutional right.
(Approved on 08 March 2021 by the UPD Executive Committee. The UP Diliman Executive Committee is chaired by the Chancellor and is composed of the Deans and heads of UPD units, the University Registrar and the Vice Chancellors.)