Kiko on students’ rights: The more you suppress them, the more they’ll fight
MANILA, Philippines — “The more you suppress them, the more they will fight,” Senator Francis Pangilinan said as he called on the defense and military leadership to respect the students’ rights to protest and express dissent.
Pangilinan made the call following the unilateral abrogation of a long-standing pact between the Department of National Defense (DND) and the University of the Philippines (UP) prohibiting the unauthorized military and police presence in its campuses.
“Ang mga estudyante, for centuries, have always been in the forefront of change, they’ve always been catalysts for change at dapat bigyan sila ng paraan na ilabas itong kanilang mga, sabihin na nating mapupusok na damdamin. The more you suppress, the more they will fight, the more they will resist,” he said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday.
(Students, for centuries, have always been in the forefront of change, they’ve always been catalysts for change and they should be given a venue to express their passion. The more you suppress, the more they will fight, the more they will resist.)
“So I call on our leaders in the Armed Forces and the defense establishment, let’s have a broader view. Respect the rights of students to protest, to express their dissent, to mobilize because that is the role of students in any society in many, many years. Panahon pa ni Jose Rizal, ganyan talaga ang mga estudyante, kumikilos, tumataya, naninindigan, kritikal sa mga pangyayari,” he added.
(So I call on our leaders in the Armed Forces and the defense establishment, let’s have a broader view. Respect the rights of students to protest, to express their dissent, to mobilize because that is the role of students in any society in many, many years. Even during Jose Rizal’s time, students have always taken risks, stood by their principles, and are critical of what’s happening.)
Pangilinan, a UP graduate and a former student activist, also frowned on the view that UP has become a “haven” for communist rebels.
In defending the DND’s move to scrap its agreement with UP, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the university has become “a safe haven for the enemies of the state.”
But the senator sees such a sentiment as “a narrow, myopic, and very shallow way of looking at UP or the academe in general.”
The unilateral abrogation of the accord is geared towards “stifling dissent and sowing fear,” Pangilinan also said.
“That’s why we have to oppose these efforts at stifling dissent and the abrogation of the UP-DND accord and the threat to abrogate the PUP-DND accord and the red-tagging of other universities are all in the context of stifling dissent, sowing fear and to serve the purpose of authoritarianism and we reject this,” he said.
The senator earlier filed a bill that would institutionalize academic freedom in all state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country by declaring them as “freedom parks” and limiting the access of the military and police in campuses.
The Senate, meanwhile, recently adopted a Pangilinan-led resolution urging the DND and UP to hold dialogues to revisit the 1989 accord.
“This is the sense of the Senate and we hope this will help in the process of dialogue, a healthy exchange of views and a resolution of this current dispute,” Pangilinan said.
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