De Lima eyes probe into removal of books deemed ‘subversive’ by gov’t
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has asked Congress to look into the alleged removal of reading materials deemed by the government as “subversive” from state university libraries.
“The removal of books from the libraries of state universities is a direct and blatant attack on academic freedom enshrined in the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines,” De Lima pointed out in a statement on Sunday.
“These actions by the government’s anti-insurgency task force not only directly contravene the duty of the State to protect and promote the moral and intellectual well-being of the people, but actually run completely against the road to peace,” she said.
In filing proposed Senate Resolution No. 933, De Lima stressed the necessity to look into the policies crafted by law enforcement agencies that aim to censor books from the country’s academic institutions to ensure that no policies violate democratic rules.
In September, reading materials considered anti-government by the military were pulled out from the libraries of Kalinga State University, Isabela State University, and Aklan State University.
The withdrawn reading materials include the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law; the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Declaration and Program of Action for the Rights, Protection, and Welfare of Children; and the Government of the Philippines-NDFP Peace Negotiations Major Arguments.
De Lima suggested that the government should instead develop and implement strategic and long-term solutions to communist insurgency.
“Freedom of thought is a cornerstone of academic freedom and a central pillar of any functioning democracy. Institutions of higher learning should foster an environment conducive to the free exchange of ideas and the development of critical minds,” the senator said.
“The goal of education should be to train and sharpen the minds of learners and expose them to the widest range of knowledge and ideologies possible in order to produce critical thinkers and not blind followers or sycophants,” she added.
“Ganito na talaga kadesperado ang gobyernong takot na takot sa katotohanan. Pilit na pinatatahimik ang mga kritiko, mga tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao, at ngayon naman, pati ang silid-aklatan at kaalaman ay gusto nilang limitahan,” De Lima went on.
(This is how desperate a scared government is from the truth. They are forced to silence critics, protectors of human rights, and now, they want to limit libraries and knowledge.)
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