MANILA – The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and a group of Catholic schools have opposed claims that their campuses are serving as recruitment grounds for the New People’s Army (NPA), joining a growing voice against the “red tagging” of learning institutions.
In a speech delivered Monday morning, President Manuel Muhi called for unity from the PUP community amid continued allegations that the NPA has been recruiting their students.
Muhi said such accusations were already addressed by his predecessor, Emanuel de Guzman.
“Uulitin ko ulit, na hindi tayo isang recruitment haven ng NPA (I’ll repeat that we aren’t a recruitment haven of the NPA),” said Muhi, who became PUP president in early 2020.
“Bilang isang institusyon of higher learning, tayo ay katuwang ng gobyerno sa pagbibigay ng serbisyong edukasyon na nagpo-produce ng pinakamarami at pinakamahuhusay na professional sa bansa,” he added.
(As a higher learning institution, we are partners of the government in giving education that produces a lot of competent professionals in the country.)
Muhi asked the community to protect the image of the university as well as the students, faculty members and workers.
Last month, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, who is part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), claimed that 18 higher education institutions were hotbeds for NPA recruitment.
The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) also criticized Parlade and the NTF-ELCAC for making “unsubstantiated claims” that endangered the security and welfare of teachers and students.
Instead of red-tagging schools, government should focus on addressing the roots of communist insurgency such as poverty and marginalization, CEAP said in a statement on Saturday.
“We remain committed to live out our Catholic principles of respect for human life and liberties, and promotion of social justice and peaceful social transformation. We continue to promote our Constituionally-granted basic human rights of free speech, expression and association,” the group added.
Officials from the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Far Eastern University, University of Santo Tomas and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila earlier refuted Parlade’s allegations against their schools.
In 2018, Parlade also named 18 colleges and universities where communist rebels were allegedly recruiting for a supposed plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.