DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director Alexander Tagum said they plan to deploy police intelligence inside the premises of at least five schools to monitor the activities of “left-leaning organizations” whom he accused as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
The police will have access to their target schools if agreements, which barred law enforcers to enter universities like the UP-DND Accord, will be lifted. Tagum claimed that Communist rebels “initiated” these agreements to continue their recruit of students.
“They designed that to prevent the police and military from hampering their activities,” Tagum told reporters at the sidelines of the I-Speak Media Forum on Thursday.
The groups, he said, “have been exploiting these agreements to recruit NPA members from schools, where there’s no presence of security forces.”
Schools are zones of peace
Rey Mart Lapina, Chairperson of the University of the Philippines Mindanao Student Council, is alarmed at the PNP’s plan as he expressed that “schools should remain as peace zones.”
He shared that Accord was signed after the Martial Law of former President Ferdinand Marcos “to stress that the University has academic freedom, as well as to protect student activists” from attacks because of their political beliefs.
Tagging student activists as Communists, he said, is “dangerous” and a threat to their lives.
“Actually, it’s the government that we should call as the recruiter, because of its violations to the rights of the youth, and other sectors, ” he said.
The youth and students are neither blind nor deaf to the issues of the country. Even within the universities, students are already faced with different issues such as commercialized education and lack of budget for school facilities.
These reasons, Lapina said, have pushed youth and students to join cause-oriented organizations.
Asked for an opinion, UP Mindanao Anthropology Professor Aya Ragrario said the presence of security forces within the university is “unnecessary” and “oppressive”.
“The agenda of the police inside the university is not aligned to the objectives of a university, which is to provide a free and safe open space for academic discussions,” Ragrario said.
She pointed out that authorities should be able to provide security even if they are not allowed to gain entry to universities. “What must be upheld is the fundamental democratic rights of the people,” she said.
Also, as a professor, Ragrario explained that she encourages her students to go outside of the university to learn for themselves what Philippine society is really like.
“You’re limiting what the youth could actually learn if your way of teaching is only confined within the four walls of the classroom, given they are very inquisitive, eager to learn especially during college where the youth is in the brink of asserting their independence as individuals,” Ragrario said.
For her, activities outside the classrooms such as mobilizations, field trips, and immersion to communities are “crucial in creating the next generation, who’s aware and compassionate.”
“Our role as teachers is to guide, advise, and ask them good questions like why our society is like this. If they would be able to think about these questions, it’s what shifts them to become good citizens” Ragrario said.
“When I say I want them to become good citizens, that means their concerns and knowledge is not only for themselves but broad enough to include the concerns of other people, especially the marginalized,” she added. (davaotoday.com)