MANILA - The University of the Philippines on Thursday denied President Rodrigo Duterte's accusation that it recruits students to join the communist insurgency.
Duterte made the allegation as he threatened to defund the state university for supposedly calling for an academic strike against the administration's alleged negligence in responding to disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the President "somehow confused" the state university with the Ateneo De Manila University, who initiated the call for an academic strike.
The university is part of government and is a "liberal environment," said UP vice president for public affairs Elena Pernia.
"Ang UP 'di nagre-recruit. We don’t recruit for the communist party. We are an educational institution. We teach, we do research, we do public service. We don’t recruit," she told ANC's Headstart.
"The University of the Philippines has a history of being activist but we must make clear that the university is not anti-government. We are the national university."
Defunding the university, which has up to 60,00 students in 16 campuses, will affect its nationwide operations and projects with government, Pernia said.
"We are a community of scholars dedicated for the nation's quest for development and we continue to serve our government. Many of our faculty are doing service for government agencies," she said.
"Sayang 'yun. 'Yung kahusayan na nagagawa namin para sa bayan mismo ay malilimita."
(It will be wasted. Our achievements for the country will be limited.)
If there were any recruitments inside the university's campuses, it is "not only one-sided," Pernia said.
"Kung sabihin mong may nagre-recruit na komunista, meron din namang nagre-recruit sa militar," she said.
(If there are those who recruit communists, there are also those who recruit for the military.)
"Is recruitment already a crime? Being activist is not a crime."
The university has implemented a "recovery period" from Nov. 16 to 21 to give its students and faculty who may have been victimized by the series of typhoons time to rest, Pernia said.
The submission of students grades was also moved to January, she added.
"If there are deadlines of students to submit this has been suspended. Students, faculty, community are encouraged in some relief and perhaps rehabilitation efforts," she said.