PNP chief: We’ll enlighten those overacting militant groups
MANILA, Philippines —Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde on Tuesday assured students of state universities that there would be no militarization of campuses should security forces be allowed access to them.
His statement came despite an Armed Forces of the Philippines bent on deploying soldiers to schools purportedly to counter communist recruitment.
“There is no such thing as militarization of a campus. Until now, we (PNP) cannot just enter campuses or universities if we do not have prior coordination or business there,” Albayalde said at a press briefing on Tuesday at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
He pointed out that police visibility outside schools, particularly in the University Belt area in Manila and the University of the Philippines campuses, was intended to protect students against crimes like robbery.
“We will engage not only the different campuses but also the CHEd (Commission on Higher Education) and the DepEd (Department of Education). We will engage them so we can enlighten these overreacting militant groups,” Albayalde said.
He said only militant groups, which he claimed comprised a minority, were reacting negatively to the proposal.
“Activism is not a problem. It is a part of freedom. Criticism is a part of freedom but when you start to support and radicalize people there to join armed movements then that is sedition. That is already a violation of the law,” he said.
Albayalde said the PNP was trying to prevent massive recruitment and radicalization of innocent students by the communist movement.
“Our students, especially those coming from different far-flung areas and provinces, are very vulnerable. They are the target of militant groups,” he said.
For its part, the AFP said the deployment of soldiers and policemen to campuses was meant to stop the “very rampant” communist recruitment in schools.
“We are not deploying (soldiers) to act as guards like in a mall. We will just be there to assist school authorities to neutralize intrusions in the schools,” Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, said in a phone patch interview with defense reporters on Tuesday.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.