Malacañang doubts police presence can prevent communist recruitment in campuses

Published August 13, 2019, 8:52 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Genalyn Kabiling

Malacañang is concerned by the alleged recruitment of students by communist rebels but is doubtful that police presence in schools will curb such recruitment.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said policemen could help prevent crime in schools but not the recruitment of students, which he claimed is usually done “in secrecy.”

“I wonder kung the presence of police will stop the recruitment. Because recruitments are usually one in secrecy,” he said during a Palace press briefing.

“Police presence can prevent any crime being committed inside the campus. But recruitment, I don’t think na it will solve,” he added.

Police authorities have reportedly called for a review of an agreement prohibiting access of cops to schools, particularly the University of the Philippines (UP). Enhancing police presence in schools could supposedly be a measure to prevent communists from recruiting students on campuses across the country.

Panelo said the Palace is “concerned” about such recruitment especially after some parents expressed grief over their missing children who end up joining the communist movement.

“If the left-leaning organization is found to be allied with organizations that are subversive of our democratic society, then it becomes wrong and illegal,” he added.

Panelo, however, found nothing wrong with students joining groups only to express their sentiments and grievance.

“You have to distinguish between expressing yourself out of a legitimate concern for a grievance you perceive to be committed by local officials or national officials as against joining an organization that is allied to communist organization found to be subversive of our democratic society,” he said.

“Pero, you join organizations to express grievance, legitimate grievance against the government, certainly it is not. It’s part of freedom of speech,” he added.

Panelo has also urged parents to discourage their students from joining the communist movement. He suggested that parents should “tell their children that that ideology has long passed and is passé and they should not entertain joining any kind of subversive organization for their own sake.”

He noted that there are many groups “not allied with the left” but still launch demonstrations on issues and concerns. “Many join the human rights groups and even civic groups,” he said.

On the proposal to revive the anti-subversion law that criminalized joining the communist party, Panelo said he would ask President Duterte about his position on the matter. “It requires study,” he said.