PCUP’s Mitra asked to publicly apologize for Red-tagging UP Mountaineers
MANILA, Philippines — The UP Mountaineers (UPM) on Tuesday demanded a public apology from Presidential Commissioner for the Urban Poor (PCUP) Commissioner Melvin Mitra for wrongly linking them to the local communist movement.
The student organization from the University of the Philippines (UP) denounced Mitra’s remarks in a recent publicized interview that UPM was “heavily influenced” by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (NPA).
UPM further demanded the immediate takedown of the video showing Mitra’s interview from the official Facebook page of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Insurgency (NTF-ELCAC).
“We decry the malicious disinformation in a government-run platform, carelessly endangering innocent lives by branding them ‘enemies of the state’ […] This falsehood that was stated so cavalierly by Mr. Mitra maligns the reputation not only of our organization, but also those of our individual members,” UPM said.
“More significantly, it puts all of our members at greater risk of harassment and personal attacks, all because a government official incorrectly tagged us as adhering to the ideologies of the CPP. For this, we hold Mr. Mitra accountable and demand a retraction of his statement,” the organization added.
UPM insisted on being a reputable student organization since its founding in 1977 as it “has been guided by the belief that the collective efforts of our members and those of our partners in the public and private sectors can advance environmental conservation and national development.”
“Therefore, we demand a public apology from Mr. Mitra and that he cease making similar unfounded accusations in the future. We likewise enjoin the NTF-ELCAC to take down the video containing Mr. Mitra’s false statement,” it added.
Mitra was reported to have posted a clarification on his Facebook page but it was not found on his personal profile as of posting time.
Mitra’s interview in a Philippine Air Force program that was posted on NTF-ELCAC’s Facebook page last January 22 discussed peace and progress and even touched on the recent unilateral termination of the decades-old agreement between the University of the Philippines (UP) and Department of National Defense (DND).
In the same program, the Pi Sigma fraternity was also linked to the communist movement.
“‘Yong question regarding totoo bang may inflitration, yes, very much, I was talking to a Pi Sigma classmate ko last time, ito ‘yong kapag tinignan mo ang kanilang logo ay inverted Kabataang Makabayan, maski sila aminado sila na almost 60 percent of Pi Sigma members are party-influencers, party-members,” Mitra claimed.
“‘Yong mountaineer, talagang sinabi rin nila ‘yan, ‘yong UP Mountaineer, heavily influenced, so makikita mo,” he added.
Last week, DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana repealed his agency’s 1989 deal with UP, which requires the police and military to first notify school officials before entering UP campuses.
The accord was aimed at preserving the academic freedom of students and faculty.
While Lorenzana was rebuked by UP students as well as UP graduates that include government officials, he defended his move by saying they are only looking to protect the country from the communist insurgency.
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