Groups oppose campus militarization
The youth can never be silenced. They will continue to advocate freedom and the right to free expression and to organize. In the face of the Duterte regime’s systematic and relentless attacks against the sector, they once again showed their unity and firm stand last August 20.
Thousands of students and their teachers protested in and outside universities to oppose the scheme to militarize campuses. This came after the Philippine National Police’s proposal to revoke the agreement prohibiting military and police presence in campuses. Academic communities are aware that the presence of security forces will result in widespread surveillance and suppression of students, teachers and employees especially those who are critical of the regime.
In reality, police and military elements have maintained their presence in campuses across the country. They are using so-called trainings and student conferences to freely conduct psywar operations (now dubbed “information operations”) in campuses. This is on top of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) that they are desperately lobbying for, and is being used by state security forcess to conduct fora and trainings in schools. Even secondary schools are not safe from military presence.
In condemnation, more than 7,000 mobilized during the “UP Day of Walkout and Action” in all units of the University of the Philippines across the country. Spearheaded by the Office of the Student regent and UP Rise against Tyranny and Dictatorship (UPRise), the student-youth, along with university officials, teachers, employees and organizations united to defend academic freedom and the right to organize.
Similar protests were mounted at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. The Alliance of Concerned Teachers and professors of the Ateneo de Manila University, University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University, UP Diliman and UP Manila conducted a press conference in solidarity with the day of action.
To oppose the scheme, the Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution 223 at the Lower House on August 12 to demand the reactionary state to recognize and uphold the Safe Schools Declaration. This declaration, which was drafted by governments across the world in May 2015 in Oslo, Norway, designates schools as safe zones in times of armed encounters.
This also upholds the continuing relevance of education in times of war and the implementation of concrete measures to oppose the military-use of schools. As of August 2019, 95 countries declared support for this declaration.