Rally behind UP Oblation
Protesters gather behind the Rally behind the Oblation at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City. (Arkibong Bayan)

The Department of Interior and Local Government  and the Philippine National Police want to rescind the DILG memorandum of agreement with state universities and colleges that bars the police from entering them without the consent of their administrators. The purpose is to stop what they claim is the recruitment of students into “front organizations” and even the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. They claim that students are being brainwashed or coerced by their professors and fellow students into joining these organizations.

That obviously mindless claim aside, police and military intrusion not only in state universities but all institutions of higher learning in order to monitor student organizations is not only contrary to the right of every Filipino to join organizations of their choice. It will also  be contrary to the Constitutional guarantee of academic freedom.

What will police and military operatives do — subject to surveillance classes, laboratories and libraries where learning takes place, and while hardly qualified, evaluate a lecture on, say, plasma physics or political economy? How thoroughly can a professor of literature whose lectures are being monitored, for example, discuss with his or her students  Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, which is a critique of capitalism’s assault on nature, without fear of being labelled a recruiter for a “front organization” or even the Communist Party of the Philippines or the New People’s Army? (The whaling ship Pequod, which is pursuing the white whale of the novel’s title, is a factory ship that kills and processes for profit one of nature’s grandest creations.)

Photo from Arkibong Bayan.

Luis V. Teodoro

Prof. Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he used to teach journalism. He writes political commentary for BusinessWorld.

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