MANILA – Several top Philippine universities on Sunday blasted claims by a high ranking military official that their schools serve as “recruitment havens” for communist rebels.
On Saturday, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict, reportedly said the military had identified 18 Philippine colleges and universities where the New People's Army recruits students into the communist insurgency.
In a joint statement, Ateneo de Manila University President Roberto Yap, De La Salle University President Raymundo Suplido, Far Eastern University (FEU) President Michael Alba and University of Santo Tomas (UST) Vice Rector Isaias Tiongco rejected Paralde’s statement against their schools.
“[We] 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 university officials said.
The officials said their universities “seek to direct our students to engage in acts that contribute to the strengthening of social cohesion, defend the country's democratic institutions, and promote nation-building.”
The school officials also added that Parlade’s claims are “really getting old” as the military official merely reiterated statements he made in 2018, adding that the accusations were irresponsible “since cast without proof.”
The universities' statement came days after the Department of National Defense (DND) unilaterally abrogated a decades-old accord with the University of the Philippines (UP), which regulated police and military operations inside UP campuses.
In terminating the 1989 UP-DND Accord, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the agreement was being used as a “shield” for communist rebels to conduct on-campus recruitment.
UP has denied that it recruits for the NPA and asked Lorenzana to reconsider his decision in abrogating the accord.
Lorenzana on Sunday said he would meet with UP President Danilo Concepcion “next week” over the termination of the accord.