Duterte’s Forces Have a New Target: University Students
Manila – Posters appearing on campus were chilling. He warned that the University of the Philippines has become a breeding ground for communist sympathizers and that students and professors need it High vigilance for counter-insurgents. Some students were also named as potential criminals.
According to students and university activists, no one knew where the posters came from, but they were found on several campuses in the country over the past few weeks. At the end of last month, the government decided to join it.
To defeat potential communists at the elite institute, Defense Secretary Delphine Lorenzana announced the end of a 32-year agreement that barred security forces from entering the campus without first coordinating with university officials and individuals. Arrested him. Professors and students can now only be held on suspicion.
About 200 students gathered in Quizon city, a northern suburb of Manila, to protest against the announcement. By allowing security forces to return to the compound, he said, the government had targeted one of the few places in the Philippines that was criticized President Rodrigo Duterte Was still tolerated. For them, the purpose of the New Testament was clear: another crack at political freedom in one country Dissidents are often tagged and sent at a moment’s notice.
“It’s a fight of the people,” said Angelo Marfil, one of the students camped in front of Quezon Hall, the building for the protest. “The attack on educational institutions is an attack on all of us because they are trying to intimidate us,” he said.
Mr. Marfil, the 19-year-old head of political science, cross-legged on the floor with a cup of coffee in his hands as he pointed to a new art installation being made by students at the university. The installation – made of bamboo, old furniture and desks – was designed to look like a barricade and to commemorate the 1971 uprising of students at the school.
“It’s a symbol of our opposition,” he said. “President Duterte’s government has openly declared war against us.”
Like other students in the protests, a hoaxer wearing colored hair and indigenous clothes, Mr Marfil called the rally a “parliament of the streets” in support of and against government corruption, with many protesters joining in the demonstrations. International Criminal Court investigation into Mr. Duterte For the mass murder of people suspected of being drug dealers and addicts, which the court called “crimes against humanity”.
The youngest of four brothers, he said that his siblings had counseled him to make rhetoric, but decided to ignore his advice.
Another student, Christina Chi, opposed to the sit agreed that this was not the time to be silent and described the decision to reverse the deal as an intimidating action. Ms Chi, a 21-year-old communications chief with plans to become a journalist, said she remembered that she used to listen to radio broadcasts of rallies and protests as a child and wanted her to join it. After studying at the university for two years, he. Has become even more passionate about the need for change.
The term “revolution” has become a part of her daily discourse, she said, but that did not mean she should be known as a brand A violent rebel.
“If any army hears about this and accuses me, my professor, or my classmates of persecuting communist ideas, then the absence of an agreement will make them pull me out of class and arrest me on trumped-up charges Will allow to do, “Ms. Chi said he is adding activists Progressive groups were already targeted And he feared that such roundups would become the norm on campus.
“It is also outrageous that they think we need protection from being brainwashed by communists, such that someone might decide to engage in an armed struggle overnight,” she said. “I think it is dangerous and just wrong to say that the university needs to implement revolutionary ideas down the throats of students. If anything, this state is being exposed to the poor conditions of education that our Eyes open to become more radical, more critical. “
The University of the Philippines has long been a pastime of free speech, building some of the country’s top minds. Its vast, sprawling grounds, lined with towering acacia trees, have been seen at key moments in modern Filipino history, including student protests that help deal with the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Mr. Marcos himself was a graduate of the school.
In 1989, three years after a popular uprising that ended Mr. Marcos’ brutal rule, the government agreed to keep security forces away from the premises. The decision was made after Donato Continent, an employee of the university who was assigned to the school by Colonel James N. of the US Army. He was arrested on suspicion of murdering Rowe, a military adviser to the Philippine Armed Forces. Mr. Continent was eventually convicted, but maintained his innocence and claimed that he was tortured to make a statement. He was freed in 2005 after 14 years in prison.
At least 18 other universities, including four private institutions considered among the best schools in Manila, have been called “recruiting havens” for communists in recent weeks. The Philippines is one of the few places in the world that has an active communist uprising.
The military recently published a list of 27 alumni at the University of the Philippines who claimed to have become members of the New People’s Army, a rebel group. The goal is to topple the government through armed struggle. The list, which included the names of prominent journalists and a former government official, was published on a government social media account before its removal, which would have forced the Secretary of Defense, Mr. Lorenzana, to issue an apology and fire the intelligence officer Was.
Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo at the university’s main campus in Quezon City did not want to speculate as to why the government abruptly canceled the agreement to keep security forces off campus after serving both officials and the university for three decades. But he noted that the move came a year after Mr Duterte signed an antiterrorism law that activists called to curb political dissent.
The law, which gave the power to detain suspects for almost a month without a warrant, was signed by Mr. Duterte amid large street protests organized by university-affiliated groups.
“Part of this campaign is the government’s important ‘red tagging’ for institutions and individuals,” Mr Nmenzo said. “Educational freedom – the freedom to think and speak – requires the absence of fear,” he said. “How can anyone openly speak if the army can enter the university?”
As Mr. Nemanzo sat in his office, Dutart Youth, a right-wing group representing the Congress, attempted to hold its rally on campus a day before the planned sit-in. Mr. Nemenzo encouraged him to disperse. He said there were reports of uniformed men in military vehicles on campus.
Members of the group held a short program expressing their support for Mr. Duterte and Mr. Lorenzana, after which they left quietly.