AFP to engage more with students

AFP to engage more with students

after DND-UP deal abrogation

With the abrogation of the Department of National Defense-University of the Philippines (DND-UP) agreement, government security forces will have the chance to engage and explain to various student groups how the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) goes about targeting and recruiting innocent youths to their cause.

This, according to Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) chief, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., in an interview in TV-5’s “The Chiefs” on Wednesday. 

“The abrogation of this accord would provide us the opportunity to again engage the studentry, the student councils, explain to them this is how the CPP works, this is how they recruit,” Parlade said.

He added that with these engagements, the security sector will be able to guide or give ideas to students fresh out of the provinces on what organizations to avoid.

Madaming puedeng gawin (there a lot of things that can be done), if only to prevent, especially itong mga (these) freshmen, wala itong kamuwang-muwang iyong mga galing ng probinsiya (who have are naive and fresh from the provinces),” he added.

Parlade, who is also National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) spokesperson, added that while looking at the list of UP graduates and undergraduates who were recruited by CPP-NPA front organizations and later killed in armed clashes with government forces, said this tragedy should not have happened had the military been allowed to engage them through seminars or lectures.

“I am looking at the list of the UP graduates and undergrads who were killed, getting involved with the NPAs and getting killed. One or two of them were close to me.  So sabi ko, hindi sana ito nangyari kung at (I told myself, this should not have happened) if we were allowed to visit the schools and conduct seminars or lectures, or engage the students,” he said.

These senseless deaths, he said, could have been prevented had someone been tasked to check on the front or underground groups of the CPP-NPA that is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

When asked if the abrogation would mean military presence in UP, Parlade said there will be no AFP troops patrolling UP campuses.

AFP doing its job

Meanwhile, Philippine Army (PA) chief, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, in a statement Thursday said that while they recognize UP as the home of the “best and brightest students” of the country, the military should not be prevented from doing its job.

“The PA is mandated to serve the people and secure the land. UP compound is a public domain and with the issue at hand, the military should not be prevented in doing their job,” he added.

Reports indicate that the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) constantly targets young and brilliant individuals in their deceptive recruitment schemes inside the campus.

“We just want to be clear that your Army is not against UP’s academic freedom as well as its dissent, progressive acts, and peaceful activism. What we are after is to end NPA’s armed struggle wherein they use students for their own advantage.

 DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Jan. 15 terminated the DND-UP 1989 agreement that requires prior notice before the AFP, then Philippine Constabulary, or the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit can enter any of the UP campuses.

Exceptions to the said requirement include hot pursuit cases and ordinary transit.

In abrogating the agreement, Lorenzana called the accord “obsolete”.

He said the CPP-NPA used the 31-year old agreement to turn UP into a breeding ground of “intransigent individuals and groups whose extremist beliefs have inveigled students into joining their ranks to fight against the government.”

The Philippine Navy (PN), meanwhile, backed Lorenzana’s decision to abrogate the accord.

“The PN as one of the Major Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) fully supports Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana’s decision to abrogate the UP-DND accord. The abrogation of the UP-DND accord is not an impairment to academic freedom, freedom of speech, assembly, or redress of grievances,” it added.

The PN firmly believes that Lorenzana’s decision was made in good faith and is rooted in the DND and AFP’s concern for the safety of our youth.

“As the Department of National Defense ends its three-decade agreement with the University of the Philippines, the PN and the AFP will continue to do its crucial role in preserving peace and harmony, by defending the Filipino nation against terrorism and other forms of threats,” the PN added. (PNA)

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