“An attack on the library is an attack on the very heart of the University itself.”
This was the response of the Academics Unite for Democracy and Human Rights (AUDHR) as it decried the removal of books and documents published by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in at least three state university libraries.
Books recently pulled out from The Kalinga State University (KSU), Isabela State University (ISU), and Aklan State University (ASU) recently included the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL); NDFP Declaration and Program of Action for the Rights, Protection, and Welfare of Children; and the Government of the Philippines-NDFP Peace Negotiations Major Arguments.
The removal was done to supposedly “protect” the youth and students from insurgent ideology.
AUDHR likened the removal to the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933 where public and university libraries and book shops were raided to pillage books considered “subversive.”
“In the Philippines, the deadly red-tagging of students, faculty, and workers in the academic sector has witnessed an unprecedented upsurge under the Duterte administration,” the group said.
“As the government further escalates its campaign, the attack on academic freedom has recently taken on another extremely palpable and ominous form. Books and the libraries which house them have now become target,” it added.
After a library inspection last Sept. 1 in KSU by a group of policemen and soldiers, a librarian was allegedly forced to remove books deemed “subversive” from their shelves.
A week later, ISU president imposed a ban on “communist” books in ISU library and voluntarily turned them over to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).
ASU, meanwhile, also surrendered all “subversive” textbooks and reading materials in its library when Aklan Police Provincial Office allegedly reached out to ASU to ask them to turn over books not considered “mentally healthy” for students.
AUDHR called the move “grave and dangerous precedents for the society and a whole.”
“We therefore call on all students, teachers, librarians, researchers, education workers, publishers, writers, and everyone who values academic freedom and the life of the mind to take a united stand to protect our libraries and universities from military and police incursion.”