Eleazar: No surveillance inside schools over Red October plot

MANILA, Philippines – The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) will not conduct any unauthorized surveillance inside universities after the military alleged communist recruitment for a supposed ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte in those schools.

“Napakahirap naman na hakbangin na lahat, iba-ibang police station ay pupunta sa mga schools (It would be very difficult to have all police stations visit all those schools),” NCRPO chief Director Guillermo Eleazar said in an interview on DZBB on Saturday, October 6.

Eleazar said he was seeking a meeting with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for consultation.

"Kami po ay makikipag-ugnayan din sa pamunuan ng mga unibersidad. Ako po, ang aking gagawin ay makipag-coordinate sa leadership ng Commission on Higher Education upang humingi ng konsultasyon kung ano ang mga hakbangan na dapat gawin ukol dito," Eleazar said.

(We are reaching out to the university officials. And I will personally coordinate with the leadership of the Commission on Higher Education to seek consultation on what steps to take next.)

Eleazar acknowledged – as later clarified by the military – that the intelligence information was still being revalidated. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) released this week a list of schools in Metro Manila, including the top universities, where communists were reportedly recruiting students for its "Red October" plot to oust Duterte. a

Universities and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) have slammed the red-tagging, calling it baseless and dangerous.

Eleazar said the police is not accusing school officials of allowing the alleged recruitment.

“Hindi naman po talaga tama ‘yun kaya nga there is a term na infiltration, it connotes – hindi po yan ina-allow or merong kaparaanan na gawin 'yun na hindi nalalaman ng management so 'yun po ang ating mga tinitingnan,” he said.

(It’s really not right that’s why there is the term "infiltration," it connotes that it’s not allowed but that they have a way to do it without the management knowing, so that’s what we’re looking at.)

Police record 

At the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, such police assurance may be taken with a grain of salt as it was just last September when school officials questioned the unwarranted presence of armed police officers inside their campus.

UP students said the policemen were looking for student regent and student activist Ivy Joy Taroma. 

Under a 1989 agreement among the military, police and UP, state security forces cannot enter university premises. It was a post-martial law agreement to prevent military and police from targeting students for their political beliefs.

The latest military claim on alleged recruitment also supposedly reaffirms a long-ongoing surveillance of universities such as UP, said the university's All U.P Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU).

"AFP’s limitless funds for fictional writing and storytelling could have been spent on actual learning of Filipino students," AUPAEU president Carl Ramona said.

Eleazar said they were keeping an open mind, and recognized that joining a rally was not a crime.

“Kumbaga kung meron pong paglabag sila sa mga penal laws lalo na kung ito ay borderline na or mga inciting to rebellion or sedition e ibang usapan na po ‘yun (If they violate penal laws, like doing something that is borderline or inciting to rebellion or sedition, that’s a different story),” said Eleazar. 

Human rights groups have called the military’s red-tagging a creeping return to martial law. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.