Youth leaders cry against military spying, harassment in schools

CBCP News –

24 January 2009

UP Students

QUEZON CITY—The Tanggulan Youth Network for Human Rights and Civil Liberties (TANGGULAN) complained against alleged military agents at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) yesterday, January 23, for allegedly spying on activities and harassing student leaders from different universities and colleges in Metro -Manila.

In a statement sent by Biyaya Quizon, national chairperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) and TANGGULAN spokesperson, student leaders and even journalists, from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Arellano University in Legarda, Manila, Jose Rizal University in Mandaluyong City, and University of the Philippines, both in Diliman, Quezon City and Manila, went to the Office of the Commissioner to personally file their grievances against intensification of “intelligence” work in schools and harassing student leaders, by accusing them as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) or organizations under the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“AFP is using school administrations and the CHED itself to malign the students and to put them under threats of warrantless arrests, or worst, extrajudicial killings. This is an outright violation of their rights to security, privacy, freedom of expression and organize freely to be able to advance their rights, welfare and total development,” she said in Filipino.

She said that the alliance is questioning the memorandum released by CHED Regional Office VII, allowing the Civil Military Operations unit of the Philippine Army to conduct counter-insurgency awareness seminars to schools in the region.

“Here in Manila, military agents are free to come in and out of the PUP campus in Sta. Mesa, doing their alleged intelligence work against “communist front” organizations, and arbitrarily interrogating some student leaders about the nature of their work and how their organizations are directly linked or working with the CPP. This is ongoing despite the earlier agreements, between the AFP and the earlier PUP administrators that military aren’t allowed to roam the campus, and that the PUP is a military-free zone,” she added.

“What’s worse is that, whenever they are conducting their so-called counter-insurgency education drive, they’re showing pictures of prominent and legal student leaders and saying they’re with the New People’s Army (NPA), serving as the recruiters for the armed-wing of the CPP,” Quizon said.

Furthermore, she criticized the way the Macapagal-Arroyo administration treats its critics by accusing them as insurgents or secessionists.

“The public office is a public thrust and it isn’t illegal to criticize any irregular or anti-people policies being implemented by the government. Even religious groups, began to be critical to the corruption hounding this government, like the Roman Catholic Church, for instance. However, we’ll not be cowed by harassments and we will continue to wage the war against this corrupt and illegitimate Macapagal-Arroyo government,” she concluded. (Noel Sales Barcelona )