Four Manila universities slam military official’s ‘red-tagging’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) - Four Metro Manila universities on Sunday slammed the claim of a military official that they are allegedly “recruitment havens” for communist groups.

The Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, and the Far Eastern University released a joint statement denouncing the earlier statement of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., spokesperson of the government’s anti-communist task force, that some 18 universities in the country are hotbeds of communist recruitment.

“This charge, though, is really ‘getting old’-- a rehash of the public accusation the general made in 2018 --irresponsibly since cast without proof,” read the statement.

This is not first time that the military official made such claim. In 2018, Parlade alleged that the Communist Party of the Philippines is recruiting members in different schools through screening of martial law films.

“We therefore object to General Parlade’s statement and emphasize that our institutions neither promote nor condone recruitment activities of the New People’s Army and, indeed, of any movement that aims to violently overthrow the government,” the statement said.

Moreover, the schools also said that they “value the Filipino’s basic Constitutional rights of speech, thought assembly, and organization.”

“And as institutions of higher learning that are stewards of the youth, repositories and producers of knowledge, and builders of communities, we must retain independence and autonomy from the State and other social institutions,” they added.

The schools also said that they uphold their responsibilities “to promote learning and safeguard the rights of the young who are entrusted to our care.”

Signed in the statement are ADMU president Fr. Roberto C. Yap, SJ, DLSU president Br. Raymundo Suplido, FSC, FEU president Dr. Michael Alba, and UST vice rector Fr. Isaias Tiongco, OP.

The “red-tagging" of universities came into light again following the abrogation of the 1989 University of the Philippines-Department of National Defense Accord, citing that the state university has become a recruitment hub for communist groups.