MANILA — The University of the Philippines (UP) on Friday defended its students who had been part of protests after alleged irregularities tainted the conduct of the May 9, 2022 polls.
In a statement, the UP President’s Advisory Council said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.'s comment that school walkouts would serve as dangerous avenues for New People's Army (NPA) recruitment was "baseless and paranoid" and sowed "the discord that they purport to prevent."
"Such statements maliciously misrepresent legitimate forms of protests as 'breeding grounds for terrorist recruitment,' violate civil liberties and carelessly endanger our students in their democratic exercise of constitutionally protected freedoms," it said.
Esperon, National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) vice-chair, earlier cautioned against academic walkouts amid the release of the partial and unofficial 2022 elections tally.
"You must think of the future of your students. Why encourage them to walk out? They are in your universities to study," Esperon had said.
But Esperon wrongly claimed that universities "encouraged" the walkouts, as these were initiated by student groups themselves.
The UP council said it would continue to defend its academic spaces, adding that it would "vigorously" protect its students against red-tagging, harassment, and intimidation.
"We will safeguard the University from destabilizing forces," it added.
"We will not stand down when our students’ lives are at risk," the university council stressed. "Critical thinking and service to community and country are hallmarks of UP’s tradition as an institution of higher learning."
FROM THE ARCHIVES