Student Alliance Condemns Purge of State Universities of “Subversive” Materials

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These books and reference materials related to the Communist uprising have been removed from the library on the main campus of Isabela State University in the town of Echague. (Filipina Daily Inquirer file photo)

MANILA, Philippines – The National Students’ Union of the Philippines on Wednesday condemned the purging of state universities of books deemed “subversive” by the government’s counterinsurgency task force.

“Flushing libraries of critical material is a direct act that cripples and suppresses academic freedom, and state-imposed policies similar to these push school administrators to shirk their duties and responsibilities to their constituents,” he said. NUSP said in a statement.

“It effectively exacerbates our already undemocratic education where students with critical political values ​​risk being vilified, branded red and, worse yet, physically injured by state agents,” he added.

The NUSP called on all other students and school leaders to campaign against “undemocratic education”.

University administrators, he stressed, have a mandate to be the protectors of academic freedom and freedom of thought, because it is “their job to foster critical thinking.”

“Therefore, its students and faculty should categorically condemn any act of purging books within their institutions – coerced or not, as these are direct threats to the academic freedom of students at a time when questions national issues such as peace talks and the ongoing civil war are not taken into account. the appropriate exposure he needs on the current education system, ”he said.

The alliance also condemned the Higher Education Commission (CHEd) and called on it to be more “proactive” alongside students and their stakeholders “and not to blindly follow and act like a puppet and a buffer of President Rodrigo Duterte and his state forces like NTF-ELCAc, AFP and PNP.

On Tuesday, CHEd President Prospero De Vera III released a statement calling on higher education institutions to respect other universities that purge so-called “subversive” material from their institutions, even claiming that they also exercise academic freedom. .

READ: “Respect” the disposal of “subversive” materials – CHEd at higher education institutions

However, an organization of progressive teachers and education workers – the Congress of Teachers / Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) – quickly denounced De Vera’s statement, correcting him that academic freedom is based on the free and fair exchange of ideas, not on censorship. .

“The purging of books from public libraries is one of the most severe forms of censorship, and De Vera’s declaration effectively sanctions it. CHED and De Vera must stop distorting academic freedom, ”CONTEND said.

The teachers’ alliance then called on members of the education sector to hold CHED and other educational institutions accountable for censorship and academic repression.

“Our schools and libraries are sanctuaries for academic freedom, and we will defend them against any attack! said the alliance.

As of this writing, three state universities had already removed allegedly subversive literature from their libraries. These are Kalinga State University, Isabela State University and Aklan State University.

They handed over the documents to the regional offices of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflicts (ELCAC) and the National Intelligence Coordination Agency.

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