Friday, June 25, 2021

UP-Baguio slams harassment, red-tagging

THE University of the Philippines (UP)-Baguio is asking Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong for a dialog after lives of students and a professor were compromised.

UP-Baguio students and alumni filed an official complaint July 10 to the City Government of Baguio as harassment and red-tagging continues for student activists and its faculty and asked the mayor for a meeting.

Faculty of UP-Baguio received private messages and death threats through anonymous Facebook account and numbers which put UP-Baguio University Student Council (UPB USC) Chairperson Nico Ponce and League of Filipino Students-Metro Baguio Chairperson Cheska Kapunan lives in danger.

The messages said both are Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army fronts.

Environmental activist and junior faculty of UP-Baguio Deign Frolley Soriano, likewise, received a death threat saying, "kung hndi nmin matumba mga puno, ikaw itu2xmba namin (if we can't topple down trees, we will bring you down)." This after appearing at a City Council session and presenting an environmental study on the importance of trees to the City of Baguio.

The letter to Magalong included a request to the City Government to conduct a proper investigation regarding the cases and hold accountable those involved. It also urged the City Government to push forward the Anti-Political Vilification Ordinance that will ensure the safety of leaders, activists, human rights and land defenders in the city.

The All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU)-Baguio Chapter statement said, "only people with criminal minds and selfish interests could possibly be threatened by the pro-environment views of Mr. Soriano that the AUPAEU strongly supports. The more disconcerting and sinister part of this recent threat against a UP Baguio faculty, along with the red-tagging of our student leaders and other UP faculty, is that it violates our fundamental right to expression and puts people’s lives at risk."

"UPB USC continues to denounce these flagrant attacks and outright character assassination to our student-leaders. At the heels of the approval of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, these attacks are a prelude to what the bill entails to the status of our democracy, dissent, and academic freedom," it added.

“These trying times are have inevitably caused fear within our ranks but our militancy and fighting spirit have not been wrecked. Armed with the puissant principle to uphold students and people’s rights and welfare, we will continue to call for the junking of terror law and for our voices to be heard,” said Alliance of Concerned Students Chairperson John Gemuel Maramba in its statement.

Since January 2020, posts branding UP-Baguio students and organizations as members and fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) were seen circulating on social media. UP-Baguio organizations red-tagged in a post by a Facebook profile named "Paraiso Kaigoratan" were UP Baguio Outcrop, Campus Alliance for Dedicated and Unified Action, Alliance of Concerned Students and its member organizations: Anakbayan UP Baguio, League of Filipino Students Metro Baguio, Innabuyog Gabriela Youth UP Baguio, Bahaghari Metro Baguio.

Tarpaulins with similar content were also found in different areas in Baguio City. Leaders and members of these organizations were blatantly tagged as terrorists, namely UPB University Student Council Chairperson Nico Ponce, Shannen Dela Cruz, Francheska Kapunan, Khim Russel Abalos, Louise Montenegro, and UPB alumni Christian Dave Ruz, Sarah Dekdeken, and Keidy Transfiguracion.


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