Student activism is okay, taking up arms vs. gov’t is not: PNP

MANILA The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said there is nothing wrong with student activism but it must not reach the point of taking up arms against the government.

The police recognized that student activism is a healthy sign of a vibrant democracy which our country now have. But to the extent of taking up arms or inciting to take up arms against government is definitely in conflict with the law that the PNP is duty-bound to address with appropriate police response, PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said during the press conference after the Monday's flag ceremony.

Albayalde made the clarification as the PNP started coordinating with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to address the alleged recruitment of students by the New People's Army (NPA) in some universities and colleges.

For our part, we have initiated consultations with the Commission on Higher Education and started opening lines of communication with school authorities to help discount the possibility of campus infiltration by extremist groups with their violent ideas. Surely we can learn from each other on how to best deal with this security concern and to try to help each other protect and secure the future of our youth who are considered to be our nation's hope, he stressed.

Actually si (National Capital Region Police Office Regional Director Guillermo Eleazar) and our (Public Information Office head, Chief Supt. Benigno Durana) have started coordinating with Dr. Popoy De Vera (of CHED). It's a very fruitful meeting na magkakaroon tayo ng(that we will have) close coordination with CHED. Hindi yung basta basta kami pupunta sa mga (We will not easily barge into) campuses. No, we will never do that. Baka mamaya ma-misinterpret na naman yung punta natin sa mga schools (If we go to schools, it might be misinterpreted). So we will coordinate closely with CHED tungkol dito (about this), Albayalde said.

The PNP Chief also assured that the coordination with colleges and universities will not equate to the suppression of academic freedom.

Let me point out that human rights advocacy is an institutional policy in the PNP that is deeply-rooted in our doctrine, systems and procedures, he said.

Albayalde added the continuing education on human rights has been constantly afforded to all 180,000 police personnel through periodic training programs and follow-on seminars, while human rights training modules are now incorporated in all PNP mandatory training and specialization courses from recruitment and onwards along the entire career in the police service.

He also reaffirmed his earlier pronouncements about the reported infiltration by front organizations of the leftist underground movement, to radicalize and recruit young students in some state colleges and universities.

Although this has been their standard strategy for years, I felt responsible to forewarn once again my fellow parents and our students of the serious danger it poses to their future. With all due respect to members of the academe, on the heels of the international observance of world teachers' day over the weekend, I know that many of them remain faithful to their chosen vocation as role models and educators of the youth, and I firmly believe that the teachers' role in educating our youth is so critical as that of 'second parents' to their students, he said.

As such, they need to be cautious of the standard practice of the leftist underground movement to exploit academic freedom to infiltrate and radicalize some students to serve, wittingly or unwittingly, their political ends to undermine, destabilize or even overthrow the government, he added.

Although the strength and capability of its armed wing have been effectively diminished, it is still important to be conscious of its persistent schemes to undermine our country's stability, he said.

While stressing that academic freedom is important to promote critical thinking in educational institutions, the PNP chief said it does not give anyone the right to abet, encourage or violate laws and regulations much more, to take advantage of the students' idealism to propagate hatred, violence and armed struggle against the government.

I just hope that patriotism and nationalism that promote values of love, sacrifice and service to country would be taught more in our schools especially in state colleges and universities, he noted.

Meanwhile, NCRPO head, Police Director Guillermo Eleazar confirmed that he met with CHED Officer-in-Charge Prospero de Vera III on Saturday.

Dr. De Vera intends to consult with presidents or leaders of universities not only in NCR (National Capital Region) but in other regions to discuss the issue and eventually hold dialogues with them and the PNP leadership, Eleazar said.

We are hoping that within the week based sa sinabi ni (on the remarks of) Dr. Popoy De Vera na magkakaroon siya ng (that he will hold) initial discussion with the presidents of some universities and then kokontak sila amin and haharap tayo sa kanila (they will contact us and we will meet them) and we will be inviting the chief PNP para harapin ito (to tackle this matter), he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency