MANILA, Philippines– “If something happens to any of our students, the (NTF-ELCAC), particularly Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., shall be held responsible.”
In a strongly-worded statement on Wednesday, May 13, the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) slammed efforts to red-tag its students “at a time when all government agencies should be focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.” (READ: NTF-ELCAC ‘black propaganda’ vs Maria Ressa, ABS-CBN sparks outrage)
NTF-ELCAC, in a now-deleted Facebook post, claimed that different media organizations and groups – including the Union of Journalists of the Philippines (UJP), a student organization under the college – are exploiting the ABS-CBN shutdown to uphold communist ideals.
UP CMC clarified that UJP, along with other student organizations based in the college, are denouncing the closure of ABS-CBN and defending press freedom for the “simple reason that it is under siege.”
“The active involvement of UJP and other CMC-based student organizations in the campaign to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise reflects what they learned within and beyond the four walls of the classroom,” they said.
The college also highlighted how the vision it imparted to its students of a free and independent media was “hardly communist.
A far cry from what NTF-ELCAC has done, the UP CMC commended the involvement of its students in the call for the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, especially as they face “bashing of mindless trolls” and “red-baiting [from] those who do not understand press freedom.”
“Let this be our final warning to the NTF-ECLAC and Parlade: We take red-baiting of our students seriously. An attack on our students is an attack on our college,” they asserted.
UP CMC added it has just cause to worry about the safety of red-tagged students at a time when “a person accused of being a communist could be arrested, detained, or killed.”
The college suggested how NTF-ECLAC should investigate the controversial “Wow China” program airing on government media since 2008, as well as government officials bowing down to the wishes of the Chinese government, if they’re on the lookout for “communist sympathizers.”
With a “political virus” on the loose, UP CMC asked its students to be careful and promised them that it will protect its students’ basic rights, especially their freedom of speech and expression as mandated by the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
“The dangers notwithstanding, we encourage our students to fight for the right to information and free speech!” they encouraged.– with a report from Francisco Mendoza/Rappler.com