Letter to the Editor: AFP, get out of UP

SPARK condemns the illegal and tyrannical unilateral decision of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to terminate the 1989 Sotto-Enrile Accords, which prevents the entry of military personnel into campuses of the University of the Philippines. The AFP claims that this was prompted by the presence of the CPP-NPA -- which it has recently classified as terrorist organizations -- inside University of the Philippines campuses, thus incurring the need for UP campuses to be garrisoned by military forces.

The recent decision to brand the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization was recently taken by the Anti-Terrorism Council, a presidentially-appointed body created by the Anti-Terror Law which is empowered to brand any organization and/or individual it deems to be "terrorist." The AFP, as usual, has failed to back up its claims on the presence of the CPP-NPA within UP campuses.

That this action has been taken by the AFP at a time when campus activities have been moved completely online exposes not only the paranoia of state forces, but also the grossly-misplaced priorities that the Duterte administration continues to have, even as the Covid-19 pandemic worsens. Furthermore, the scaled-up repression and harassment of members of the opposition is happening a year away from the 2022 Elections.

Whether or not the Duterte administration intends to strangle the space for free political organization and participation in the run-up to the elections, such actions do contribute to this. This is utterly unacceptable, and once more shows the predatory nature of the elite: while they maintain the ruse of democracy through electoral systems, in truth, such practices are marred by widespread violence, intimidation, and corruption instigated by those in power.

The AFP's demand to militarize UP campuses is an issue that concerns the very basics of our democratic life. Should we let them succeed in UP, the path is open for them to militarize all schools. The relevance of our schools as academic institutions and centers of free conscience and speech is at stake.

We urgently call on all schools to condemn the AFP's actions in the strongest terms possible, and to consider steps to extend solidarity to the University of the Philippines in resisting these developments.

We call on all students, faculty, and their organizations to likewise condemn the AFP's actions, and to organize to resist the encroachment of militarization into our campuses, and to defend our democratic rights with all dedication.

We stand in solidarity with the University of the Philippines, its students, faculty, and non-teaching staff. We owe them nothing less than to stand by their side all the way. Rest assured that only our collective action will serve to defend our right to be in our schools.


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