AFTER the walkout staged by University of the Philippines (UP) on Tuesday, professors in at least five universities in Metro Manila, including UP, expressed their opposition to the proposed entry of the military and police in campuses.
In a press conference in UP on Wednesday, professors from Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and Far Eastern University (FEU) stressed the need to defend academic freedom and decried the red-tagging of schools as a recruitment hub for the New Peoples’ Army (NPA), which they claimed was actually an attempt to silence those critical of the government.
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan said they were not overreacting but feared the entry of state forces in universities due to their arbitrary definition of what was unacceptable and even with the use of the term “leftist.” He cited recent events of harassment against professors who were invited to hold a lecture in Samar by mere association to UP.
The UP Diliman College of Science Dean Giovanni Tapang also cited the case of botanist Leonard Co who was shot dead by military forces in Kananga, Leyte, where he was doing research on indigenous trees. He and his companions were mistaken to be members of the NPA.
UP Diliman Professor Rolando Tolentino also cited the abduction of activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño in Bulacan in 2006. Retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan Jr. was found guilty in 2018 of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection to their disappearance.
Ateneo history professor Francis Gealogo narrated incidents a few months ago of state forces visiting Ateneo and nearby restaurants asking around for information on protest actions, causing fear to faculty and students.
The professors maintained that they would continue to teach students critical thinking, which was part of the quality education the universities could impart.
Tan assured parents that UP has enough security personnel on campus. Cases of violations among student organizations, if any, would also be investigated, Tan said. DIVINA NOVA JOY DELA CRUZ