‘KEEP OUT!’ Student councils, organizations close their doors against ‘campus militarization’

Published February 4, 2021, 4:57 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Just like how teenagers post ‘Keep Out’, ‘Do Not Disturb’ and ‘Do Not Enter’ signs on their doors, student councils and organizations are barring the entry of forces that might “threaten” the freedom and peace that they enjoy.

“We, the Filipino youth and students, stand firm in our belief that schools are zones of peace and academic freedom, and that members of education institutions are free to express their beliefs and opinions without threat,” read a Unity Statement to Defend Academic Freedom and Democratic Rights released by the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP).

Over 70 signatories composed of student councils and other organizations from schools, colleges, and universities nationwide are denouncing the “blatant show of insecurity and isolation” of the current administration.

“We do not need military troops in our campuses, we need health facilities, additional classrooms, hazard pay for staff and teachers, among others, to ensure the relative accessibility of education amid the pandemic,” the groups said. “Moreover, let us fight for our democratic rights and academic freedom,” they added.

The unity statement was issued following the termination of the 1989 UP-DND Accord. “For more than 30 years, [it] has protected the state university from illegal and unreasonable interventions from state security forces, they are now listing once again schools that are ‘breeding grounds’ of rebels and terrorists,” the groups said.

“Academic freedom enforces critical thinking and dissent, and makes educational institutions a wellspring of thoughts and solutions on many fundamental societal problems,” the groups stressed. “Inciting the fear towards communism by labeling critical thinking as such is not only absurd but is also what has been done in history by another dictator – one that we should never let happen again,” they added.

Given this, the groups are calling on their fellow Filipino youth and students to “stand against campus militarization” as well as for the gradual resumption of safe and quality education.