Despite the walkout by students of the University of the Philippines in Diliman who opposed the impending presence of soldiers inside their campuses, the military on Tuesday said it would push through with the plan to deter the possible breeding of would-be insurgents in colleges and universities.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said the intention for the deployment of soldiers was merely to assist school authorities to quell the encroachment of leftists in campuses in the recruitment of students.
Students at UP in Diliman staged the walkout, denouncing the proposed entry of soldiers in their campuses which they claimed would risk their academic freedom and make them vulnerable to possible harassment.
“It’s not a curtailment of academic freedom as the deployment will not in anyway interfere in school activities,” Detoyato said.
He added: “We will be there to assist school authorities to neutralize reports of intrusions in their schools,” Detoyato explained, while allaying the fears of school officials and students that the deployment was not in a form of combat operation.
“They are painting a grim scenario that is not going to happen,” Detoyato said, replying to claims by UP students of militarization of their campus.
He said the deployment of soldiers in colleges and universities would be in a graduated method, depending on the need basis, acting on the request of school officials.
“If the need arises, we will dispatch [soldiers] but that is to educate the students,” Detoyato said, adding that soldiers would not bear arms, rebuffing insinuations the presence of soldiers would be permanent as feared by the students and school officials, particularly in UP.
“The best to combat a man with the wrong information is a man with the right information, so the only thing we will bring is information—for students not to be victimized by deceitful recruitment,” Detoyato said.
“They are poisoning the minds of the students that we will be in a permanent fixture. If we are not needed, we will not go there, we are needed somewhere else as security forces,” he said.
“If you have nothing to hide why be afraid,” he said referring to students blocking military deployment inside UP compound.
Detoyato said they were not against activism so long as it would not result in transition to extremism and terrorism, adding “I may not like what you say, but I’m going to defend your right to say it”—an attempt to quote the English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall best known for her biography of Voltaire.
Asked for the timeline on the supposed deployment, Detoyato said the matter would be discussed by officials of the university, the Department of Education and the military.
The AFP has revealed that 18 Metro universities, including UP Diliman, are being used as recruitment hubs for prospective cadres.
At the Senate hearing last week, Senator Ronald dela Rosa discussed the issue of disappearance of minors recruited by leftist elements.
READ: Cops to go on campus tour to stop Red recruitmentREAD: Military told: Tit-for-tat vs rebelsREAD: Rody says Joma blocks peace talks
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