human rights in the Philippines

Students welcome UP Baguio move vs red-tagging, urge other schools to follow

Sherwin de Vera

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Students welcome UP Baguio move vs red-tagging, urge other schools to follow

ACTIVIST RECORD. University of the Philippines students' record for activist make them a frequent target of Philippine state security forces' red-tagging campaign.

Sherwin de Vera

The National Union of Students of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet urges other schools to follow UP Baguio's example

BAGUIO, Philippines — “Long overdue but a very welcome development” was how University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) Student Council chairperson Iya Trinidad described the school’s effort to integrate and institutionalize steps to protect and support victims of red-tagging.

“We already participated in the first CMC (Crisis Management Committee) … We defined red-tagging. They (CMC members) also asked us (the students) what steps would make us feel safe. The output will be incorporated in red-tagging guidelines of UPB,” the 4th Year Social Science student said in a text message on Monday, December 5.

“However, there are still things that need polishing and steps to concretize the plan,” she added.

During her investiture as the third UPB Chancellor, Dr. Corazon Abansi announced the inclusion of red-tagging as among the concerns that CMC. The school, she said, will ensure the safety of the university and its members.

Trinidad also praised the university’s commitment to supporting students beyond red-tagging. This includes the provision of legal counsel, a place of refuge, and counseling for mental health for those in need.

“They (school officials) have been very open to providing these support, and we are hopeful that we can uphold all of these through the CMC,” she said.

Victory and challenge

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Baguio-Benguet lauded the UPB community for their “significant victory” against red-tagging.

“The challenge now is how to encourage other universities to replicate this step and for other UP campuses to follow,” said NUSP Baguio-Benguet chair Franz Calanio in a phone interview on Tuesday, December 6.

He said the recent development should further encourage students and UP community members to campaign for the reinstitution of the university’s accord with the Department of National Defense (DND) regarding military presence inside the campus.

In January last year, the DND unilaterally announced the termination of the agreement, citing alleged in-campus recruitment activities of communist rebels.

Calanio said that, at the very least, universities and colleges should ensure student representation in their crisis committees.

He urged student councils to assert this in their respective school administration, citing the Commission on Higher Education and Department of Health Joint Memorandum 2021-001. The issuance mandates the creation of CMCs in higher education institutions to ensure that campuses are fit to reopen for face-to-face classes.

“The order does not include red-tagging, but we hope that they will follow the example of UP Baguio … or they can create a separate multi-sectoral body to address this safety concern,” he added.

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