Fidel R. Nemenzo
Chancellor, UP Diliman
We view with grave concern the latest effort of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), through their official social media sites, to red-tag former student leaders of the University of the Philippines by including them in a list they called “Some of the UP Students who became NPA (Dead or Captured)”.
The list includes distinguished alumni who have become outstanding professionals in their chosen fields – lawyers, artists, development managers, journalists with a track record of integrity and service in various government and civil society organizations – whom the University of the Philippines is proud to have helped nurture.
It is unthinkable that despite the millions of taxpayers’ money poured into military intelligence, the AFP is making such baseless accusations, in the process violating the civil liberties and putting at risk the lives of responsible citizens who are actively contributing to nation-building in their chosen professions. Although the list has been taken down in some of the social media sites, the damage has been done. More disturbingly, the list presents itself as only partial, identifying only “some” UP students. We are concerned that the AFP may be harboring a database of a much longer list of UP students across many years, wrongly and similarly accused as NPA like these student leaders who were our students some forty years ago.
Especially in the context of the recent unilateral abrogation of the 1989 UP-DND Agreement that requires the latter to coordinate with University authorities any military action inside our campuses, we are worried that a military database that is riddled with factual errors may unduly become the basis for overt and covert military action against our students and alumni across four decades or more.
We call on the whole UP community, all students, faculty and alumni to join us in our efforts to assert academic freedom and our civil liberties. Let us join the fight to stop any form of baseless red-tagging and to protect the enabling environment for freedom of thought and expression, that has nurtured critical minds, social consciousness and a sense of service and nation-building that have become the hallmarks of our University’s tradition of education.
We join hands with all the universities that have been similarly identified as recruitment havens of so-called enemies of the state. Let us together work toward preventing the militarization of our campuses and asserting an enabling environment for critical thought and academic excellence in our universities.
We reiterate our call for DND Secretary Lorenzana and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to restore the 1989 UP-DND Agreement and enjoin them to a dialogue that would ensure we can work together to effectively secure our campuses from acts of violence, coercion and terrorism that have no place in the university.