AFP: Military presence in schools won’t hamper academic freedom
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine military on Friday brushed aside claims that its presence in schools would curb academic freedom.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the deployment of police and military in schools is not tantamount to “militarization” and “curtailment of academic freedom.”
“The entry in schools of members of the AFP will not be in the scale and magnitude of a combat deployment, what militarization?” he said in a statement.
Some students and faculty members of the University of the Philippines have rejected the proposed police and military presence in schools and universities, which came in the wake of reported recruitment of students to left-leaning organizations to become communist rebels.
“There is no curtailment of academic freedom because we do not intend to and will not intervene in the determination of what subjects to be taught, who will teach and how it will be taught,” Arevalo said.
He assured the students and faculty members that the military supports academic freedom, but not to the point that it would be used to overthrow the government.
“But we draw the line between that of a valid exercise of such freedom and that of corrupting the minds of students – especially minors using a premeditated and systematic process of instilling hatred and indoctrination, taking advantage of their idealism and social imperfections – until they take up arms to overthrow government through rebellion or insurrection where many of them die,” the spokesperson said.
However, he said there is deprivation of academic freedom when students are not afforded opportunity to listen to views and opinions from all sides – even from perceived adversaries – for them to make an informed judgment or an intelligent stand.
“They pay lip service to academic freedom when they block the opportunity for students to hear the side of the AFP/government on the many accusations hurled against it while they allow NPA recruiters access to the campuses – wittingly or unwittingly,” Arevalo said. /kga
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