Plan to boost police visibility in universities opposed
MANILA, Philippines — An administration lawmaker yesterday opposed the plan of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to increase police visibility in universities and colleges.
Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles, vice chairman of the House justice committee, said such plan is unwarranted and inconsistent with the purpose of higher learning institutions.
“The main mandate of the PNP is to combat and prevent crime. As far as I know, no crimes are committed when students join left-leaning organizations in universities and colleges, so long as they do not take arms against the government,” Nograles said.
Nograles said universities and colleges “should remain venues for discussion and debate, where students can explore different ideologies and different perspectives about society.”
“In a democratic society, there is a constant battle for the hearts and minds of the people, including the youth. Based on recent surveys that show that the President has the support of the majority of our people, the government has every reason to be confident about winning this battle,” he pointed out.
Nograles also agreed with the opinion of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra that membership in or affiliation with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) cannot be considered as a crime in itself “unless a crime is committed.”
He issued the statement in response to the PNP’s plan to deploy more policemen in campuses to boost the campaign against insurgency and amid the controversy involving recruitment of students to the rebel group.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had said that Executive Order No. 70, which creates the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTFELCAC), justifies the PNP’s presence in schools and universities as part of their plan to counter insurgency.
The task force, chaired by President Duterte, is composed of the different government agencies involved in addressing the insurgency problem through a “whole nation approach” strategy.
A local military commander in Bacolod City, Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, suggested looking into the possibility of prohibiting government scholars in public and private schools from joining organizations supporting the CPP.
Arevalo lamented there are government scholars who join the communist rebels.
“There are many other students who deserve the scholarships and who are in dire need of education to help the country, and not destroy it,” he added. – With Gilbert Bayoran