Statement on AFP’s tagging of schools as alleged communist recruitment grounds

Thousands of youth march from UP to Ateneo.
Thousands of students joined the protest march from University of the Philippines-Diliman to Ateneo de Manila University in Katipunan to denounce burial of ousted Philippine President and dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in 2016. Photo by Carlo Manalansan.

The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) is deeply concerned with the recent tirades of Brigadier General Antonio Parlade Jr., deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against academic institutions and screenings of martial law films.

A total of 18 Metro Manila universities including University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University, San Beda College, and Philippine Normal University were red-tagged as recruitment hubs of communist groups. Malacañang supported AFP’s statement on Thursday, saying that the schools’ screenings of martial law films incite students to rebel against the government. The information from AFP is clearly a malicious attempt to validate the Red October plot to destabilize the government. Such preposterous declaration from the military poses real threat to academic freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of association and the security of students and teachers.

EILER was established during the dark days of martial law and since then has recognized the historic role of schools that are critical of the government. It is deeply embedded in the nature of these institutions to provide an atmosphere for the youth to learn about their country and its history. They have developed curriculum that promotes people’s rights and some of them offer extended services and linkages specifically to the workers. Through the years of EILER’s work, many universities have been very supportive and accommodating of documentary film showing, advocacies, and campaigns that explore the martial law era and the Marcos dictatorship.

Thus, EILER expresses its gratitude to the many universities that offer programs directly benefitting the basic sectors, specially the Filipino workers. Some of these schools served as home of Felixberto Olalia, Sr. Workers’ Formation School (WFS), a one-of-a-kind education program of EILER, wherein trade unionists and labor leaders complete a curriculum on labor education. These schools have helped strengthen the solidarity of youth, cultural workers, and trade unionists to address key issues concerning labor and employment such as contractualization, soaring inflation, fascist attacks on freedom of assembly, war on drugs and martial law and militarization of Lumad schools in Mindanao.

These institutions lay the foundations for promoting social justice and the rights and welfare of the Filipino people. They are also fundamental in nurturing scholars and professionals to work with unions, community-based organizations, employers and the government in support of the broad and diverse Philippine trade union movement.

Never forget, never again to martial law. Defend the people’s democratic rights!


October 5, 2018.

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