Party-list representatives from the Makabayan bloc have questioned the removal of books and documents on peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) from several state universities.
Filing House Resolution No. 2290, the six members of the House of Representatives sought an inquiry on the confiscation of the materials for alleged "subversive contents."
“The removal of these books and materials from the libraries of the state universities and colleges (SUCs) is a clear violation of the people’s right to academic freedom and the government’s attempt to suppress critical thinking amidst the reign of tyranny in our country today,” the resolution read.
“The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has absolutely no right to intrude, infringe or dictate upon the country’s state universities and libraries,” it added.
The confiscated and banned books from the state universities are compilation of materials related to the peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The government and the NDFP have been engaged in on and off negotiations for decades in the hopes of arriving at a peaceful agreement that will end the communist insurgency in the country.
In April last year, President Rodrigo Duterte rejected the revival of the talks following the reported death of soldiers in clash with the communist rebels.
The house resolution was signed by Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite; Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas; ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro; and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
The lawmakers said that a group of police and military personnel barged and inspected the Kalinga State University, then forced the removal of alleged “subversive” books and materials last September 1.
Meanwhile, Isabela State University president Ricmar Aquino also imposed a ban on “communist” books in the school library on September 20. Aquino also turned over the books to the army’s 502nd Infantry Brigade.
The Aklan State University also surrendered all “subversive” books and materials from the library after the Aklan Police demanded to ban the “mentally and unhealthy” reading materials last September 24, the Makabayan solons said.—Richa Noriega/LDF, GMA News