MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) should keep off campuses and focus on keeping the public safe and on solving the continuing mass murder of drug suspects, said Erin Tañada, Liberal Party vice president for external affairs.
“Having the police, intelligence agents ,and even the military inside campuses will send a chilling effect on students and teachers, and will hamper their learning and teaching. Napakarami ng mga krimen sa lansangan, kabilang na patayan, at dito dapat itinutuon ng mga pulis ang atensyon nila (There are too many crimes on the streets, including the continuing mass murders of drug suspects, and this is where the focus of the police should be,)” said Tañada in a statement Sunday.
Tañada, who was president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines in his younger days, is reacting to PNP’s plan to deploy more policemen in campuses to boost the campaign against insurgency and amid the controversy involving recruitment of students to rebel groups.
He said schools are places for growing minds, exploring ideas, and building wholistic individuals who are learned and compassionate toward others and the society. “Ang mga paaralan ay dapat lugar kung saan malayang dumadaloy ang mga kaisipan dahil iyon talaga ang diwa ng pag-aaral. At walang puwang ang mapanakot na pwersa ng estado rito (Schools should be an environment of free-flowing ideas because that is the essence of learning. And intimidating forces of the state have no place there),” said Tañada.
Earlier, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Executive Order No. 70, which creates the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTFELCAC), justifies the PNP’s presence in schools and universities as part of their plan to counter insurgency.
The task force, chaired by President Duterte, is composed of the different government agencies involved in addressing the insurgency problem through a “whole nation approach”.
Tañada said schools are aware of and abide by laws. “Kaya ipaubaya na natin sa pangasiwaan at mga guro ang pagpapalakad sa mga academic institutionna ito at huwag silang hayaang mapakialaman ng mga armadong pwersa ng gobyerno (Let us thus leave it up to the management and teachers to run these academic institutions and leave them untouched by armed government forces),” he added.
To protest the plan to deploy armed government security forces to UP, students plan to walk out of their classes on August 20, Tuesday, and go to Mendiola at 1 p.m. and later to Liwasang Bonifacio at 3 p.m.
“Kaisa tayo sa mga estudyante at guro ng UP, PUP, at iba pang mga academic institution sa pagtutol sa mga ginagawang surveilance activity laban sa mga progresibong mag-aaral (We stand in solidarity with students and teachers of the University of the Philippines, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and other academic institutions in denouncing surveillance activities against progressive learners),” said Tañada.