DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Students of the University of the Philippines (UP) are set to stage a systemwide protest next week to oppose the proposed entry of police and military inside state universities, including UP.
The Office of the Student Regent (OSR), the highest student representation in UP Board of Regents, recently declared August 20 as the “UP Day of Walkout and Action.”
The OSR memorandum signed by Student Regent John Isaac Punzalan said that the proposal to allow the police and military inside the campuses is expected “to result to massive surveillance and monitoring on our students, faculty and officials, especially those who are vocally critical.”
“Our academic freedom is at high risk of being taken away from us as we become vulnerable to baseless accusations, intimidation, and harassment,” the memorandum said.
“Campus militarization is equivalent to martial law in our university and we shall not let that happen. The existing accord prohibiting these state forces to operate in our campuses is a product of the student movement that has fearlessly fought for the rights of the youth and the people,” it added.
In 1989, an agreement was signed by the UP and the Department of National Defense that denies access of authorities in any UP campus without prior permission.
Recently, the Philippine National Police has called for the review of such agreement, following the Senate’s hearing, led by the former police chief, neophyte Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, where they accused progressive youth organizations of recruiting for communist rebels.
UP student councils in different campuses across the country have released a “declaration of unity” against police and military intervention in state universities.
They declared that UP “shall remain a zone of peace and its spaces shall cater to the free expression of ideas and dissent.”
“We will never allow martial law to be implemented on our campuses. The university shall also continue in strengthening its role as a sanctuary for the oppressed and marginalized, from farmers and workers up to indigenous peoples and our fellow youth. The police and military should know by now what the students are capable of doing when it comes to defending our university. The First Quarter Storm in 1970 and the Diliman Commune that followed after are just glimpses of what the student movement can muster in times of crisis like this,” the declaration wrote.