President Rodrigo Duterte did not say that all students of the University of the Philippines (UP) are communists, but noted that many of them are, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after Duterte, in a taped speech last Tuesday night, threatened to defund UP because the institution supposedly does “nothing but recruit communists.”
Roque cited the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, as example as he was a former instructor at the UP.
“Marami na naman tayong kakilala talaga na nag-aaral sa mga pampublikong paaralan na talagang namumundok ‘no. In fact ang CPP-NPA, ang founder po niyan, instructor pa sa UP, si Joma Sison. ((We know a lot of students in public universities who join communist rebels in the mountains. In fact, the CPP-NPA, their founder is an instructor in UP, Joma Sison),” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Sison has been in self-exile with his wife, Juliet, in the Netherlands since 1987.
The communist founder and his wife are facing impending arrest for their supposed involvement in the so-called “Inopacan massacre,” the 1980 mass purging of communist insurgents allegedly connected to the military in Inopacan, Leyte.
Roque, who used to teach in UP, said it is a known “fact” that the premier state university has produced members of the CPP-NPA.
“That’s something that is known by people. It’s not necessarily saying lahat kayo komunista pero marami talagang nagre-recruit diyan (that all of you are communists, but there are many recruiting there) and it’s a fact,” he added.
While students have the right to criticize government, Roque said UP students should also see to it that they do not waste their tuition, which is funded by taxpayers’ money.
“They have the right to criticize the government, kaya lang iyong mga gumagamit ng pondo ng bayan, huwag ninyong sasayangin ang pondo ng bayan. Kasi ginawa nga pong libre iyan at iyong mga maliliit na mga mamamayan, mga mahihirap na nagbabayad ng indirect taxes, sila po ang nagpapaaral sa inyo. Huwag namang callous (but if you use public funds, don’t waste it. Because it’s free and ordinary citizens, the poor pay indirect taxes, they’re the ones who fund your tuition. Don’t be callous),” he said.
Roque also stood pat on his remark that students from Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) should still submit their academic requirements even if they wished to go on a mass student strike to condemn the government’s response to recent typhoons and the coronavirus pandemic.
He said if they refused to comply with academic requirements, they should not complain about not being able to graduate.
“Siguro anak mayaman, bahala kayo sa buhay ninyo, pero huwag din kayong magrireklamo kung itong mga pribadong eskuwelahan na ito ay hindi kayo paggagradweytin, dahil kasama po sa karapatan ng mga pamantasan na huwag magbigay ng degree doon sa mga hindi nakaka-comply ng academic requirements (Maybe you’re rich kids, so you’re free to do what you want, but don’t complain if you don’t graduate because it’s the right of the school not to give degrees to students who don’t comply with their requirements),” he said.
Roque, a former student-activist himself, said he believes in students’ right to free speech, but noted that they should still make it a point to submit their school requirements.
On Wednesday, Roque clarified that Duterte may have “somehow confused” UP as the proponent of the planned “academic strike” instead of ADMU.
“That’s why the President also had something, a message to UP. But although I think the message should only have been addressed to Ateneo students,” he said.
In an interview over ANC’s Headstart, UP Vice President for Public Affairs Elena Pernia denied Duterte’s accusation that the university recruits students to join the communist insurgency.
“We don’t recruit for the communist party. We are an educational institution. We teach, we do research, we do public service. We don’t recruit. The University of the Philippines has a history of being activist, but we must make clear that the university is not anti-government. We are the national university,” she said.
Source: Philippines News Agency