Student groups tell gov’t to redo strategies on ending armed conflict

Jan. 27, 2021

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Student groups in Mindanao urged the government to recalibrate its strategies to end the armed conflict through resolving the root causes of armed rebellion: poverty, inequality, corruption, and atrocious governance, instead of sowing fear against dissent.

Ateneo de Davao University Student Council, Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Pamantasan ng Ateneo de Davao (SAMAHAN), condemned the listing of more universities and colleges across the country alleged as breeding grounds of communist rebellion.

Irresponsible, dangerous

ADDU’s university student council, Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Pamantasan ng Ateneo de Davao (SAMAHAN), denounced such “irresponsible” listing and demands for an apology from the NTF-ELCAC.

“This listing is dangerous because it encourages red-tagging, especially in a polarized society that confuses activism and dissent with rebellion and terrorism, which will put in peril the lives of university members especially our fellow students who bravely speak against state atrocities and inefficiencies,” SAMAHAN said.

The group challenged the State to instead listen and give appropriate response when students speak out their minds on social ills.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) named 38 schools and university including top Mindanao educational institutions – Ateneo de Davao University, Xavier University, University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP), Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), MSU General Santos, and Bukidnon State University (BSU). The anti-insurgency task force accused the communist rebels for using these schools as their venue to radicalize and recruit prospects.

National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Vice President for Mindanao Christian Sembrino criticized the “ceaseless” red-tagging of NTF-ELCAC as “desperate move to silence dissent.”

In a recent Facebook post, NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Badoy defended her task force colleague, Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr., for claiming that communist recruitment activities are occurring in top universities and colleges in the country.

Badoy pleaded to these schools to work with the government as it intensifies its operations against the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA).

In a separate statement, the Students’ Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (STAND-IIT) feared that listing their school endangers the welfare of its students.

“Despite the constant denial of the administration, history will show the very real dangers that red-tagging poses.”

Earlier this month, the Department of National Defense (DND) unilaterally abrogated its agreement with the University of the Philippines that restricts the presence of state forces within UP campuses as it insisted that UP is a hotbed of communist recruitment. UP administration, students, and faculty criticized the move as they said it endangers the right to free speech and academic freedom. (

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