education in the Philippines

UP Baguio officials, groups denounce red-tagging in NSTP class

Sherwin de Vera

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UP Baguio officials, groups denounce red-tagging in NSTP class

PROTEST. UP Baguio students protest against red-tagging of students organization.

(UPDATED) The chancellor of UP Baguio apologizes for the 'lapse on the part of the administration'

KALINGA, Philippines – Offices and organizations in the University of the Philippines condemned the red-tagging of student groups during an online lecture at the university’s Baguio City campus on Monday, November 7, as part of the National Service Training Program (NSTP). 

In a joint statement, the UP Baguio Office of the Director for Student Affairs and the Student Relations Office raised their concern on the discussion of Module 5-National Security, under the NSTP curriculum. 

“The League of Filipino Students-Metro Baguio and Anakbayan-UP Baguio are duly recognized organizations of the University of the Philippines Baguio. Categorizing them as NUFC under the Communist Terrorist Group is a form of red-tagging which may compromise the safety and welfare of our students,” the two offices said. 

“We denounce any form of red-tagging, malicious labelling, and loose accusations made against duly recognized student organizations of UP Baguio,” the statement added. 

Retired military general Peale Bondoc, who was one of the speakers, tagged progressive organizations as part of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). 

Red-tagged in the presentation were Anakbayan, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the League of Filipino Students (LFS), the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), and the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP). 

The UP Baguio Student Council and All U.P. Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU)- Baguio Chapter also condemned the incident. 

UP Student Regent Siegfred Severino said it was not the first time that the Armed Forces of the Philippines “hijacked” an NSTP class “for their sweeping baseless allegations of terrorism.” 

“Other UP Units have also experienced this hijacking of NSTP Lecture Classes. ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) have long been used by the military to push their propaganda. In the time that Mandatory ROTC is being pushed in Congress, we can see that it’s passage will result to more incidents like this,” Severino added. 

UPB, Bondoc accountable 

AUPAEU questioned why the administration allowed the incident to happen despite numerous statements against red-tagging from university bodies, including the UPB University Council. 

“May pananagutan ang administrasyon ng UPB kung sakaling may mangyari bunga ng red-tagging sa loob mismo ng ating campus,” AUPAEU-Baguio Chapter added. 

(The UPB administration is accountable if something happens as a result of this red-tagging inside our campus.) 

In a statement, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny Baguio-Benguet asked the UP Baguio administration to explain “how the pawns of fascism such as the AFP were given an avenue to talk about peace and security” despite reports and incidents of red-tagging students and organizations from the university. 

“History has shown how UP remained steadfast in opposing red-tagging and promoting critical thinking among its constituents. The negligence of UPB to fail to foresee the red-tagging incident earlier, by deliberately providing AFP a platform, is a complete irony of UP’s principles and history,” the group said. 

Meanwhile, the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND), said there should be “no room for red-tagging in a UP NSTP class.” 

The group was one of those named in the presentation as communist front organizations. They called Bondoc’s allegations as “forms of disinformation” 

“We hold Bondoc, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to account for spreading lies about teachers and educators’ associations that he besmirched,” he said. 

In the concluding observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the Philippines, the UN Human Rights Committee noted the threats posed by red-tagging. 

In the document adopted on November 4, the body noted that “reports of “red-tagging” of human rights defenders, activists and other civil society actors, further exposing them to death threats, intimidation, attacks, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.”

Apology from UPB

UPB Chancellor Corazon Abansi has apologized “for the lapse on the part of the administration,” according to a press relwase by the UPB Student Council. and for allowing the retired military officer to have an avenue for red-tagging in the mentioned class.

“Abansi reassured the UPB community that the administration will install mechanisms to protect the students, faculty, and other university personnel against red-tagging,” said the student council.

UPB University Student Council Chairperson Sofia Trinidad said that more than an apology, they need concrete actions to prevent red-tagging in campus.

“Apologies are very much welcome and appreciated but should cases or similar cases like this happen again, or if there are no active steps in holding the state accountable for attacking our democratic rights and academic freedom, we will hold the UPB administration accountable,” said Trinidad.

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