The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) on Saturday denied any links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Our Catholic identity – enshrined in our values, vision, mission, goals, policy and practice – is directly in opposition to the beliefs of the CPP-NPA,” CEAP said in a statement. “It has been said before, and we affirm it once more: We do not support the CPP-NPA,” it added.
CEAP was reacting to the recent statements made by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), implicating a number of Catholic Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in “unsubstantiated claims” related to the CPP-NPA.
The allegations were by Parlade in a Facebook post last Jan. 25.
First off, CEAP clarified that it held a meeting with the members of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in “October 2018 not 2019” – when 18 universities including, Catholic HEIs, were implicated in an alleged Red October Ouster Plot.
Parlade, CEAP said, referred to “talks between NTF-ELCAC and the CEAP” implying that there were multiple conversations that happened between groups. “We categorically deny this,” CEAP said, noting that “there was only one dialogue that was organized” dated October 24, 2018.
CEAP also belied Parlade’s claims that the “same universities have failed to disclose such information to their constituents or address the problem despite giving their word” because it implies that organization and its member HEIs have “failed” to “address the problem.”
For CEAP, this is “misleading” since there were “no concrete proposals or agreements made and no follow-ups were done.” CEAP maintained that its member schools are “committed to Catholic teachings of forming engaged citizens committed the common good and the pursuit of social change through peaceful and nonviolent means.”
CEAP also addressed the statement of the NTF-ELCAC made last Jan. 26 supporting Parlade’s initial statements – implicating 38 HEIs as recruitment grounds of the CPP-NPA.
Its member-schools, CEAP said, remain compliant with regulations of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education (DepEd). “We have strict protocols in accrediting student organizations and activities ensuring that they are compliant with government regulations and school policies,” it added.
As the country’s largest private educational association with almost 1,500 member-schools, CEAP also expressed support to the statements released earlier by the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), the Far Eastern University (FEU), Ateneo De Naga University and Holy Angel University as well as a statement of the Coordinating Council of Private Education Associations (COCOPEA).
“We remain committed to live out our Catholic principles of respect for human life and liberties, and promotion of social justice and peaceful transformation,” CEAP said. “We continue to promote our constitutionally-guaranteed basic human rights of free speech, expression, and association,” it added.
CEAP noted that it will continue to uphold the academic freedom given to HEIs by the 1987 Constitution and affirmed by the Supreme Court. “This freedom provides our society a space, free from external constraints, where truth can be sifted from untruth and the right from wrong,” CEAP said. “We believe this is essential and necessary for the benefit of society and the common good,” it added.
Meanwhile, CEAP appealed to the government to stop red-tagging educational institutions because it “endangers the security and welfare of teachers and students.” Instead, it encouraged the government to “address the roots of the problem of insurgency like poverty and marginalization.”
Recognizing that the challenges of nation-building toward fuller “democracy, progress and peace are complex,” CEAP reiterated its commitment to engage with the government on these in a “spirit of partnership and dialogue.”