MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Several universities have condemned the military's allegations that communist rebels were recruiting their students for the supposed "Red October" plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.
Eighteen universities were tagged by the military in the alleged recruitment effort. A military official said the communists were trying to project Duterte as the new dictator through a film showing.
ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY
Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, president of the Ateneo de Manila University, said "there is no present evidence to even suggest" that the school is exposed to any grave risk.
He reiterated the Ateneo's support for democratic institutions and said the university "will not shirk from its mission to holistically educate our youth in proper history and ethics, particularly on the matter of Martial Law and its impact on Philippine society."
"We will persist in encouraging our faculty and students to think critically, exercise academic freedom in search of truth, and speak truth to power, so that the Ateneo continues to contribute to the attainment of a more vibrant democracy," Villarin said in a statement.
DE LA SALLE UNIVERSITY
De La Salle Philippines President Bro. Armin Luistro said the government should have first talked to university officials before releasing a list to the media.
"Why would you even, if that were something substantiated, release that publicly without sitting down and [having a dialogue] with university officials? If they were serious about it, if there was something substantial, I think that’s the first step. Media release of an intelligence report does not help any," he told ANC's Headstart Thursday.
EMILIO AGUINALDO COLLEGE
Emilio Aguinaldo College denied that communists were recruiting its students and called on the military to take responsibility for its remarks.
"Such statement undermines the safety and security of the students of Emilio Aguinaldo College as they are now looked upon as possible communists or rebels," lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada, legal counsel of EAC said in a statement Thursday.
FAR EASTERN UNIVERSITY
In a statement, Far Eastern University denied promoting efforts to destabilize the government as it assured its commitment to nation-building.
"Far Eastern University is fully committed to nation-building. FEU is not promoting or condoning any on-campus movement to destabilize the government," it said.
LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES UNIVERSITY-MANILA
Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila President Roberto Laurel denied knowledge of any supposed recruitment by communists in the school and said that it respects rights of all students to freedom of expression and assembly.
"The management of LPU Manila has no knowledge of any participation nor recruitment of students to the Communist Party of the Philippines," Laurel said in a statement.
"As an advocate of nation-building, our institution upholds the principles of democracy and abides by the supreme law of the land- the Constitution," he added.
UNIVERSITY OF MAKATI
University of Makati President Tomas Lopez Jr. said its administration has no knowledge of any recruitment efforts by the communists within the school.
"The management of University of Makati has no knowledge of any student activity linked to what the AFP claims as recruitment efforts of the Communist Party of the Philippines," he said in a statement.
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES DILIMAN
University of the Philippines Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan said the military must provide evidence for their allegations.
"The military should give us whatever so-called intelligence they gathered. They can’t even get the names of schools right as in the case of Caloocan. When they present it to us then we will see if there is reason to investigate," Tan told ANC.
"The other point as well here is we will not allow this to be a witch hunt. We are still a democracy, although it is a democracy under assault."
The UP Diliman student council said "red-tagging" students is a threat to the youth and the student movement.
"The UP Diliman University Student Council strongly condemns this blatant act of red-tagging students of these universities. It is a clear threat to the students who bravely criticize the government, and the president himself," it said in a statement Thursday.
UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS
For University of Santo Tomas Secretary General Fr. Jesus Miranda, O.P., the burden of proof lies with the military.
“Baka naman stereotyping lang nila ‘yan or because we are a Catholic university and there is a perception that we are against the present government. Is that why we are being tagged?” Miranda told student paper The Varsitarian on Wednesday.