THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said it would deploy troops in universities and colleges to counter the recruitment program of groups suspected to be linked to the New People’s Army (NPA) in schools.
But Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs chief, said soldiers who would be deployed in schools would not be armed and would respect academic freedom.
Detoyato said the deployment would be arranged between the Department of National Defense and the Department of Education.
“The best way to combat a man with the wrong information is a man with the right information. So, what we will only bring [during deployment in schools] would be information, we just want to inform [the students] so they won’t be victimized by deceitful recruitment,” he told reporters in an interview.
The military official said troops would also be deployed in schools in the provinces.
He maintained the sending of troops would not curtail academic freedom.
“It’s a way of checking in coordination with local authorities, if there is no need [for the military], then we won’t go there anyway, we are not deploying soldiers as if we will be guarding a mall or something like that,” Detoyato pointed out.
He said soldiers would hold civil-military operations only in schools where NPA recruitment had been reported.
Detoyato said the deployment of soldiers would not be permanent, as he slammed leftist groups who used the issue to “poison” the minds of students.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s peace adviser on Tuesday backed the proposal to increase police visibility in schools to deter the recruitment efforts of leftist groups.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. said the police “should not be restricted to enforce the law.”
“The PNP (Philippine National Police) is mandated to serve and protect, if it is not allowed to enter a certain area, it will deprive them,” Galvez told reporters.
Galvez, said the presence of policemen in campuses would “deter” the recruitment of college students by the NPA.
“We have to allow. Kasi if we will not allow it, the people will be deprived of the security. Lalo na ngayon, andaming recruitments sa mga student (Especially now when student recruitment is rampant),” he said.
Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said Executive Order 70 could be invoked to increase police presence in schools “infiltrated” by communist insurgents.
On Tuesday, students of the University of the Philippines (UP) walked out of their classes and marched to Mendiola in Manila to protect academic freedom, and to assert their right to organize and protest.
Members of Gabriela Youth, Anak-Pawis party-list, and various university organizations and other sectors joined the rally, dubbed by the UP Office of Student Regent as “UP Day of Walkout and Action.”
The rally was organized following proposals to revive the Anti-Subversion Law, which, according to Student Regent John Isaac Punzalan, would lead to extensive surveillance of students, professors and organizations that are critical to the government.
With a reports from SAMANTHA TEBRIO