"They should find a common ground instead of attacking each other."
As far as I know, the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City is still Philippine territory and therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the laws of the land. One wonders therefore why the Department of Defense entered into an agreement with UP which, according to knowledgeable sources, simply contained general provisions and lacked specifics to prohibit the police and military from entering the UP campus to perform their official functions. UP after all is not an independent republic. I do not know of any similar arrangement anywhere in the world.
One reason given why this 1989 agreement was entered into was to preserve and maintain academic freedom. Whether in fact the mere entry of the police and the military to the University campus to perform their official duties will stifle our long-cherished tradition of academic freedom is another matter and needs deeper examination.
From the way the two are talking to the media, it is obvious that they are talking on different wavelengths and are looking at this controversy from different points of view. As far as UP is concerned, this issue is all about academics. Another reason could also be the school’s desire to preserve and maintain its reputation as the premier university of the land and the bastion of what some might say progressive thought. The DND on the other hand is looking at this primarily from the national security angle. There is no denying that schools are the favorite places where the CPP/NPA would like to recruit its cadre and UP, unfortunately, occupies a special place as far as the CPP/NPA is a concern. This much was admitted by a former progressive congressman during a congressional hearing. College students who are young and idealistic are much sought after because to the CPP/NPA, they are easy to convince to join the revolutionary war. Jevilyn Cullamat who recently died in an armed encounter with elements of the Army in Surigao del Sur was not the first former college student to die in combat and will certainly not be the last. When I was new in the service, an armed encounter between the military and the CPP/NPA took place in the mountains of Zambales where two female students were also killed and all the while, their parents thought that they were in school. That was about 50 years ago.
Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was quoted in the papers as asking UP to explain how it is that there are graduates or students from UP who are fighting in the ranks of the armed wing of the CPP which is the NPA if there is no recruitment going on in that school. Being the head of the organization fighting the CPP/NPA, this is a fair question. There have been known instances wherein former students from UP have joined the ranks of the CPP/NPA and have been killed or captured. This is not to say that it is UP’s fault; Lorenzana is simply searching for answers to a problem that has long bedeviled the military. There are many things wrong with our system of government for sure, but what the CPP/NPA is espousing is no better.
This 52-year communist revolutionary war is real. A lot of people have died and many more will die because of it. It is not some kind of a romantic adventure that we often see in the movies wherein well-meaning young people join a cause to right a wrong. It is none of these. The DND and UP should therefore look at it from this point of view and try to find common ground instead of viewing each other as enemies. The CPP/NPA is the enemy. As far as protecting academic freedom which we all cherish, there should not be any problem. If I understand correctly where Secretary Lorenzana is coming from, abolishing academic freedom is not his objective. He simply wants to find ways to stop the CPP/NPA from using schools and UP in particular as recruiting grounds for its cadre. UP authorities are suspicious and dismissive of the intelligence reports coming from the Armed Forces because no evidence is being presented as proof. This was made worse when the AFP came out with names that were in fact wrong. This undoubtedly hurt the Military’s cause. The AFP will have to do a better job on this in order to make a better case.
Since UP and the military are both government organs, there should be grounds for agreement on how to tackle this controversy instead of going after each other’s throats. Both sides should remember that the common enemy is the CPP/NPA and therefore should be able to come to an agreement on how to resolve the controversy and start by stopping the on-going media war.