MANILA - A youth representative on Tuesday rejected the proposal of the police and Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa to allow law enforcers in schools.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago slammed as "malicious" and "baseless" the allegations that left-leaning groups are recruiting students to join the communist insurgency.
She said these claims are being used to "push for the railroading of the amendment" of the Campus Security Act and revival of the Anti-Subversion Act, which she said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año sought Monday.
"The problem in schools is not the absence or the lack thereof of police and military presence. The problem is that we have a senator who formerly leads tokhang operations and dismisses the death of a child as stuff happens and this stuff already happened 74 times, according to Child Rights Network," she told ANC's Early Edition.
Elago was referring to the senator's remark on the death of a 3-year-old girl in a drug operation in Rizal, for which Dela Rosa has since apologized.
Dela Rosa, in a Senate hearing, said security forces should be allowed inside educational institutions.
"Kung beyond your control ‘yung outside of your premises, sana within your control ang inside ng premises,” the former national police chief said.
(If you don’t have control over things outside your premises, at least have control inside your premises.)
“MPD (Manila Police District), dapat dagdagan niyo ang patrol sa loob para mabubulabog ang nagre-recruit sa loob,” he added, referring to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
(To the MPD, you should increase your patrols inside to thwart recruiters.)
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernardo Banac, meantime, said allowing policemen inside universities would allow them to engage students and "present the side of government."
"What we really want to address is that our youth would become radicalized. We just want a portion of the time in the campus to engage students to give a balance on the issues.
"We can also present the side of the government such as obedience to the law, you can do all these youth activism without violating the law."
Elago, however, said students are afraid of uniformed men and that she has received reports of youth activists who cannot go home due to fear of surveillance by authorities.
She said not only students are being harassed, but also faculty members, citing the alleged Red October plot last year that tagged universities in a supposed ouster plan for President Rodrigo Duterte.
"We’re urging the Duterte administration to sign and support the international agreement on declaring schools as neutral ground and zones of peace," she said.
"Dalawang taon na po itong tinutulak ng DepEd (Department of Education) at hanggang sa ngayon hindi pa nagkakaroon ng malinaw na direksyon kung ito ng aba ay pipirmahan at susuportahan ng Duterte administration."
(DepEd has been pushing for this for 2 years and until now it is not clear whether it will be supported and signed by the Duterte administration.)
Banac assured the youth that they should not be afraid of policemen.
"They should not be afraid of uniformed men, they’re really there to serve them," he said. "There’s nothing to be afraid, we’r here to serve and protect everyone."