AFP says ‘we’re not enemy’ in soldiers’ visit to gardening sites on UP campus
MANILA, Philippines—Government soldiers made their presence felt on the University of the Philippines’ Diliman campus on Wednesday (Jan. 20) following the termination by the Department of National Defense (DND) of a deal that required prior notice to UP officials for the deployment of state security forces inside UP campuses.
Two trucks from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force National Capital Region brought soldiers to areas on the campus supposedly to inspect the AFP unit’s urban gardening projects. The visit was meant to show that the military was not an enemy of UP, said Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson.
LOOK: Soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines visit the UP Arboretum at the University of the Philippines (UP)…FEATURED STORIESNEWSINFO
“This is proof that the armed forces is not an enemy,” Arevalo said at a press briefing, speaking in Fillipino. The visit was meant to show that “if the armed forces enters schools, like UP, it doesn’t mean there’s militarization but cooperation, coordination between soldiers and people in UP communities for progress,” he added.
“This is just one among the many circumstances that we could cite to you of a good cooperation between the military and members of community of the schools, in this particular case, the University of the Philippines,” said Arevalo.
Maj. Celeste Frank Sayson, head of the AFP’s 7th Civil Relations Group, said soldiers have been entering Barangay UP Campus and the UP Diliman campus because of humanitarian and urban gardening projects.
The military has two major campaigns in partnership with Barangay UP Campus which had been approved previously by then UP Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo—Kapwa Ko Sagot Ko and Raise to 1 Million Gardens in the NCR.
Kapwa Ko Sagot Ko, which was carried out at the height of the lockdown in 2020, extended relief assistance and humanitarian services to 436,140 households, or over 1 million individuals, in Barangay UP Campus and its adjacent communities.
The Raise to 1 Million Gardens in the NCR was launched last year in support of the Department of Agriculture’s Alpas Covid 19 Plant, Plant, Plant program to ensure food security during the pandemic.
The DND’s unilateral termination of its agreement with the state university came to light on Monday (Jan. 18), after UP posted a copy of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s letter informing UP president Danilo Concepcion of the DND decision to unilaterally terminate the agreement.
In his letter dated Jan. 15, Lorenzana said the agreement had been a hindrance to operations against communist rebels, especially recruitment of cadres in UP.
Despite assurances that state security forces do not intend to suppress activist groups or curtail academic freedom, Lorenzana said there are “malicious insinuations” that the government will militarize UP.
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.