[OPINION] Too much beer

The military never learns. These days, whenever it warns of an impending communist plot to overthrow the government, most sane people wonder why the administration is feeling insecure.

Nowadays it may be because the President’s survey numbers are sliding, because inflation is high and rice is short, and because an attempt to jail yet another critic has failed miserably – whereas before it was so easy. Some people have taken to saying that this is a desperate attempt to set up for martial law because the President is not long for this world and his minions are desperate.

See what I mean? Military red scares aren’t about stabilizing the situation. It just causes more destabilizing speculation and panic. It is really more about the military and its commander-in-chief sacrificing the truth and national calm to control the narrative.

Newsflash for our military: the communists have been trying to take over for a century. They have not succeeded yet. In fact, they were at their height and the end of the Marcos dictatorship and still, they did not manage. The superiority in numbers and equipment of the er.. military.. (isn’t that you?) is so overwhelming.

In short, it would take a pretty incompetent and cowardly bunch of military leaders for that to happen.

Red October university list

Typical of this administration though, it does tend to take ridiculousness to new heights. So the military recently released a list of schools where the communists allegedly are recruiting kids for a “Red October” plot to destabilize government.

This list (laughable if it were not for the fact that the people who released it bear arms), is what made me stop dreaming of flying to Germany for the Oktoberfest in order to write this article. As some of the readers may know, when I am not slacking off, I teach in the university which they put at the top of the list.

So let’s begin with some facts. First, one of the schools identified, the Caloocan City College, does not exist. Hmmm… Military intelligence. Gotta love it.

Secondly, it is not illegal to become a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The party itself is not an illegal organization. Therefore, logically, like Akbayan or Magdalo or the LP or Lakas or the PDP Laban, they should be recruiting members and particularly among young people. Any political party that doesn’t do this is to be chastised for relying on money and patronage rather than on platform. It’s called, if I remember correctly, DEMOCRACY.

In UP, we have so many student organizations doing recruitment. Some are the youth arms of political parties like the Akbayan-youth. Some are religious organizations. Some are based on ethnic or provincial affiliation (and here I shout out to the student organization of my husband’s province of Samar).

Several years ago I was adviser to the UP Diliman Chapter of the Filipino Free Thinkers. I just signed up to be faculty adviser of the Golden Z, a young women’s empowerment group associated with ZONTA. There are also the organizations based on academic disciplines.

As Dean of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development,  I am particularly pleased with our CD Circle and Junior Social Workers Association of the Philippines. All of these have members recruited from the student population. There also groups working on animal rights, the environment and so on. 

We also have the fraternities and sororities. The only organization that has not managed to recruit anyone, in my knowledge, is the one a few of us formed when I was a student, the UP non-joiners student association. Our tribe did not increase, which we considered a great success.

I could fill a very thick dossier of the names of student organizations all recruiting in UP Diliman. But I guess the reader with the average IQ will need no further examples. As for the military whose IQs need such a list, let me leave it to them to do their work and spend some of that HUGE (I mean really HUGE) intelligence budget.

Contesting ideas

So if any of the Red Octoberians in the military were to come to visit me in my office in UP and ask me if the CPP were recruiting in my College, I would say, “likely, isn’t that the point of being in a democracy?”

But then I would also teach them how every other group which disagrees or prioritizes other concerns competes with the CPP.  They compete by contesting ideas, questioning organizational practices and providing alternatives. UP student life helps inculcate critical thinking which is one of the  essential elements for becoming a good person, having a good career and contributing to a developed and stable country.

I would actually have been proud of UP Diliman for being named on the list. Because if this was not happening in my neck of the woods, it would mean our administration is suppressing a particular organization or ideology. That would be antithetical to what we do in a university.

What I resent, however, is the military had not said, “there is communist recruitment in UP along with anti-communist recruitment, religious recruitment, anti-religious recruitment, recruitment and recruitment and more recruitment.”

It is for these reasons that I believe that the two military men Brigadier General Antonio Parlade Jr. and AFP chief General Carlito Galvez Jr, attended the Caloocan City College. Any other college would have taught them that we all need to uphold basic constitutional guarantees like freedom of assembly and dissent.

Another graduate of Caloocan City College would be Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde who asked why students, especially from state colleges and universities, fight the government.

In UP we teach the difference between dissent and “attempting to bring down the government in October 2018.”

We teach our students to criticize and to question because government (any government regardless of whether it is led by a  Duterte,  an Aquino, an Arroyo or Donald Duck) should be held accountable.

We teach them that the way to do that is by constant monitoring and criticism.

We teach them that as long as the country is poor, then there is a role for social critics. I guess they did not teach that in Caloocan City College either.

My real dilemma about recruitment these days is whether the military has a reverse IQ test for those who they recruit into military intelligence. Or perhaps, they do have normal IQs, but drank too much beer in anticipation of Oktoberfest. – Rappler.com


(Sylvia Estrada Claudio is a doctor of medicine who also holds a PhD in psychology. She is a Professor of  the Department of Women and Development Studies and Dean of UP College of Social Work and Community Development.)