AFP Intelligence insults university dean, harasses Balikatan forum participants

Feb. 21, 2008

U.S. Troops Out Now! – Lanao Coalition (Out Now! – Lanao) condemns the intimidation tactics employed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines during a forum at the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology in Iligan City.

Major Benedicto Manquiquis, PA and his cohorts misrepresented themselves as students and infiltrated a student educational forum on Balikatan exercises organized by the History Department and Historical Society of MSU-IIT. The high-ranking military officer did later identify himself – just before he stepped up to the microphone and proceeded to accuse the forum organizers of conditioning the minds of the students to hate the government.

The nearly two hundred students in attendance enthusiastically applauded the retort of Prof. Geoffrey G. Salgado, Dean of the College of Arts and Social Sciences, who said that, These are IIT students. They are very bright. They cannot be brainwashed, we are merely presenting the facts. A student also stood up to Manquiquis saying that the forum on Balikatan provided an important, alternative source of information on the issue that opened their eyes to what is happening in the country.

Manquiquis proceeded to sing the Communist Anthem Internationale after stating that he was surprised that this song was not sung at the opening of the program in the place of Bayang Magiliw. To this, students began booing Manquiquis, while Prof. Salgado threatened to file a case for intruding on an educational activity and insulting the integrity of the activity and institution.

Major Manquiquis was also one of several military personnel present at a student picket against Balikatan exercises and a candle-lighting ceremony at MSU-IIT. The military men took pictures and a video of the students who participated in peaceful activity.

The Out Now! – Lanao Coalition also observed the presence of military personnel at discussion forums conducted at MSU – Marawi earlier this. The group also received reports that anti-balikatan posters were taken down from light-posts of barangays Fuentes to Camague, also in Iligan.

These actions of the military intelligence are clearly a form of harassment against patriotic Filipinos who are actively campaigning against the Balikatan exercises, said Br. Roseal Cabatcha, TOR, convenor of Out Now! – Lanao. We are open to the presence of the military during our activities in the name of healthy debate and discussion, but the actions of Manquiquis and his personnel demonstrated that their purpose is to disrupt the activity and create chaos, at the same time conducting surveillance on patriotic students and faculty.

Out Now! – Lanao denounced the actions of Manquiquis and other members of the military intelligence, saying it sent a message that open discussion and debate of issues of national importance are not permitted. The group claimed that the incident only reveals the anti-democratic nature of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and exposes their one-sided acceptance of US political authority in the Philippines. #

For reference: Kristian Mark Urbano, Public Information Officer (0928-398-8908)

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