“An assault on critical thinking and democracy” was how former vice president Jejomar “Jojo” Binay described the military’s red-tagging of several universities.
Lieutenant Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), had earlier said that around 18 colleges and universities are recruitment grounds for communist groups.
Aside from the University of the Philippines (UP), Parlade named the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Far Eastern University (FEU), University of Makati (UMak), among others.
“The military is mounting an assault on critical thinking. They want our universities to produce citizens who are pliant, obedient, and unquestioning,” the former vice president said.
“They forget that critical thinking leads to advances in science, medicine, arts, and society. Stifle it and you choke progress,” he said.
The military was reminded by Binay that in a democracy, the role of education “goes beyond providing a steady workforce for enterprises.”
“It is imbued with the noble purpose of providing citizens the tools to think independently and critically, to see themselves as contributors to the regeneration of society,” he stressed.
“By attempting to stifle critical thinking, they are also stifling democracy itself, since democracy draws its strength from critical thinking and the process of renewal that it proffers,” the former vice president added.
Binay, who is a founding member and adviser of Artikulo Tres, a human rights lawyers’ group, called for vigilance against assaults on democracy “from within.”
“Without critical thinking, democracy and its institutions will atrophy. Incessant assaults, especially from forces from within, could lead to its demise, unless it is confronted and defeated,” he said.
As such, the former vice president dismissed the claim made by Parlade, as well as other military and police officials, that their recent moves were intended to protect the youth from communist infiltration.
The documented cases of illegal arrest, torture, and even killing of youth and students, among them Kian de los Santos, belie this claim, Binay said.
“Parlade and other military and police officials claim they are only protecting the youth from the Left. But with so many documented cases of illegal arrest, torture, and even killing of youth and students, can they really say that they are protectors of the youth? Let me give a short answer: Kian de los Santos.”
Three policemen have been found guilty of murdering 17-year-old De los Santos in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan. The court said the policemen lied about the circumstances surrounding the boy’s death.