Three more schools identified by the military as recruitment hubs for communist groups have denied that their students are being tapped to be part of a supposed ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a statement, the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) said that neither the institution nor its student body has any record of participation in any partisan political activity.
EAC said that its students are known to be more involved in outreach and community programs because of its medical and allied health courses.
The college also insisted that the accusation made by high-ranking officers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should be rectified immediately.
"Such statement undermines the safety and security of the students of Emilio Aguinaldo College as they are now looked upon as possible communists or rebels," EAC said.
On Wednesday, AFP deputy chief of staff for operations Brigadier General Antonio Parlade Jr. released a list of schools where, he claimed, the Communist Party of the Philippines were recruiting students as part of the alleged "Red October" plot against Duterte.
He made the claim after AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez, Jr. alleged that communist rebels are trying to mobilize students against the Duterte administration by likening it to the Marcos regime.
Another school on the military's list, the University of Makati, stressed that it has no knowledge of any student activities described by Parlade and Galvez.
"While we protect the rights of our students to free speech and assembly, we also strongly adhere to the principles of democracy as enshrined in our Constitution," the University of Makati said in a statement.
"Our student development efforts are centered on providing them programs that will strengthen their employability and readiness for work after graduation," it added.
DLSU, FEU, UE
The De La Salle University (DLSU), for its part, said that it does not recognize organizations that are not listed in the Student Handbook, such as fraternities, sororities, and groups that subscribe to violent actions.
"The University does not allow such groups to recruit members nor to hold activities that incite students to rebellion inside campus premises," DLSU said.
Another school on the list, Far Eastern University, also issued a statement denying the AFP's allegations, saying it is not promoting or condoning any on-campus movement to destabilize the government.
The student council of the University of the East (UE) Manila slammed the communist tag on their school with an official tweet that said it wanted to "rectify" Parlade's statement.
"There is no recruitment inside the campus," it said, adding that there is no need to destabilize the government.
"We need to promote solutions, solutions that serve every Filipino regardless of sector."
The University of the East Student Council would like to rectify the statement of AFP Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. tagging the University of the East as a recruiting ground for communists planning to oust Pres. Duterte; there is no pic.twitter.com/bq8qj56mlM— University of the East - Manila (USC) (@UEUSC) October 3, 2018
The University of Santo Tomas had earlier also denied the allegations and challenged the military to prove its claims.
'Ateneo will not shirk from its mission'
Ateneo de Manila University on Thursday evening became the latest school to issue a statement on being on the military's list.
"There is no present evidence to even suggest that the Ateneo is exposed to any grave risk in that regard," said ADMU president Father Jose Ramon Villarin, referring to the allegation that schools are used as "a staging ground for recruitment by these groups that seek to undermine our democracy."
Villarin also stressed the school's "well-established and long-standing support for democratic institutions," and said that it will continue its mission of educating its students, including on history.
"[A]s an academic institution, the Ateneo will not shirk from its mission to holistically educate our youth in proper history and ethics, particularly on the matter of Martial Law and its impact on Philippine society," he said.
A memo from University President Fr Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ to the university community on allegations of subversion. pic.twitter.com/zBSBqsyHHS— Ateneo de Manila (@ateneodemanilau) October 4, 2018
In a Balitanghali interview, Leni Velasco, executive director of community organization Active Vista, called the AFP's claim "irresponsible and dangerous."
"Alam mo ito'y napaka iresponsableng statement at napaka dangerous dahil ang pag-atake sa mga venues ng kritikal na diskurso at ng edukasyon katulad ng mga paaralan pati mga film screenings ay pinupuntirya din nito," Velasco said.
She noted that with the recent remarks of the military, the lives of innocent civilians, especially students, are being put at risk.
"Hindi ito simpleng paranoia lamang ng militar. Naniniwala kami na isa siyang orchestrated attack na ikondisyon ang isip ng taong-bayan at pinapanatili nito ang naratibo na gusto nilang paniwalaan natin na nagsisilbi lamang sa mga kung sino man ang nasa kapangyarihan," Velasco added.
For its part, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) called the Red October claims “old and ineffective ‘red scare tactics’ to create a climate of fear and insecurity, portray itself as a victim of destabilization, and justify Duterte's imposition of a fascist dictatorship.”
NUSP national spokesperson Mark Vicente Lim said that the government is trying to divert the public's attention from other pressing issues, including rocketing inflation, the martial law in Mindanao, continued contractualization of workers, and the deadly war on drugs.
He also said that tagging universities and colleges as places where communists recruit new members will only worsen the Chief Executive's already unpopular image among the youth.
"The state cannot stand the fact that Duterte is unpopular among the youth for his deadly wars against the people. The malicious tagging of schools is hence part of the fabricated plot used by the state to vilify students who fight against Duterte's tyrannical rule and anti-people policies," he said.
“He [Duterte] fears university and college students who criticize the rottenness of his regime and forge solidarity with the rest of the Filipino people to attain education, employment, agrarian reform, and human rights,” he added. — with reports by Ted Cordero and Margaret Claire Layug/BM, GMA News