Elago: ‘Red-tagging’ of Metro schools an attack on campus free speech
The military’s claim that some colleges and universities in Metro Manila are being turned into recruitment grounds by communist rebels is an attack on the students’ freedom of expression, Kabataan party-list Representative Sarah Elago said on Monday.
“We take this as an attack, atake ito doon sa malayang pamamahayag, sa karapatang mag-organisa,” Elago told Radyo Inquirer in an interview on Thursday.
(We take this as an attack on freedom of expression, on the freedom to organize).
She also reminded the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to be careful in making such declarations as it may endanger the lives of students who are merely voicing their concerns on issues affecting athe country.
“Itong pagta-tag nila sa universities na nag-aassume pa sila, walang room for assumption dito eh, dahil ‘yong ganyang mga maling assumption, ‘yong kanilang pag-aakala, ay naglalagay sa panganib dito sa mga vocal, sa mga nagpapahayag hingil sa iba’t-ibang issue mula sa universities na ito,” Elago added.
(In this tagging of universities, there is no room for assumptions. Wrong assumptions will place in danger students from these universities who are vocal about various issues).
During a budget hearing at Senate on Wednesday, AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. revealed that at least 10 universities in Metro Manila are involved in the “Red October” plot, a supposed plan to overthrow the current administration.
In a separate interview, AFP Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has infiltrated 18 schools, including top schools such as the University of Santo Tomas, University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, and the De La Salle University.
According to Elago, the AFP should not equate actions by students that are critical of certain issues to rebellion or even that of joining the communist movement.
“Sa ating kasaysayan, ‘yong mga estudyante talagang very active pagdating sa mga issue sa kanilang lipunan, sa libreng edukasyon, dito sa mga killings na may kinalaman sa drug war, issues nitong pambansang pondo natin,” Elago noted.
(In history, students have been shown to very active when it comes to issues that affect society, such as free education, killings linked to the drug war and even the national budget).
“Kung ano ‘yong maiinit na issue, proliferation ng fake news, nagsasalita talaga ‘yong mga estudyante kasi alam nila kung ano man ‘yong mga policies na ‘yon, malaking epekto sa kanilang future,” she added.
(Even with trivial matters such as the proliferation of fake news, students are very vocal about it because they know it will have an effect on their future).
In his previous statements, President Rodrigo Duterte said the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) have connived with the opposition, particularly the Liberal Party and the Magdalo group into hatching a plot to oust him.
However, the concerned groups have denied the President’s allegations, saying that these are all far-fetched. /muf
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