Saturday, February 18, 2006

Classic cases of political repression now happening in University of the Philippines

This is a very serious matter. Pls. circulate widely
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WE ARE ON TO YOU

An open letter to the UP student community February 2006

First they came for the Communist, and I did not speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for the homosexual... When they came for me, there was no one left to protest.
-Paster martin Niemoller on Hitler's Germany, 1936


Fellow student leaders: the enemy is within our midst.

We wish to inform you of some alarming incidents of harassment committed against student leaders from various organizations and formations. The following are reported events based on direct testimony and accumulated evidence:

1.Receiving intimidating messages and calls through cell phone

2.Stalking incidents inside and outside the UP campus

3.Attempts to obtain personal records from UP offices

4.Surveillance of academic areas and areas of residence

5.Clandestine inspection of organization tambayans, the University Student Council (USC) office, and the Office of the Student Regent (OSR)

6.Regular scouting of confirmed military and police elements and other highly suspicious personnel inside the campus

By our investigations, we have reason to believe that most if not all of these cases are perpetrated by regular elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) as well as covert agents of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP). In one such incident, administration employees who refused to disclose student records (3) have confirmed that the individuals who made such demands identified themselves as operatives of the ISAFP.

For the record, we would like to clarify that the evidence in our possession is not enough to incriminate the aforementioned government structures in a formal investigative body. We are not so na├»ve to think that implicating these agencies is a simple matter –indeed if it's even possible in the current nature of the state. However, we deem it necessary to inform the student population about these clear and concrete cases of political repression so close to home.

What could be the motivation for such cases of harassment?

It is no mystery that the opinion of the UP community resonates all over the country. The institution has both a symbolic role and distinct responsibility to the Filipino people. Decades of the student movement cultivated and nurtured on campus has earned UP a reputation for being a hotbed for student activism.

While we may appreciate this legacy on different levels, there are other more universal ideals that bind us. One of them is our value for basic civil rights and liberties. A number of student leaders have decided to take a strong position and active role against what is perceived as an illegitimate, fascist, and anti-people Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime. Many of us have experienced first hand the strong arm tactics of the state, most notably through the so called "Calibrated Pre-emptive Response" or CPR. Nonetheless, we are equally alarmed of these classic cases of political repression.

We are not completely surprised about these events however. This regime has earned the disgrace of generating the worst human rights conditions in the post Martial Law era. It is a government that would choose to spend people's taxes, the bulk of collections coming from the poor, on paying onerous debts rather than providing basic social services like education, health, housing, etc. It encourages systemic plunder of public funds in the bureaucracy, making us the 9th most corrupt government in the world. But worst of all, it is a regime where dissenters stare down the barrel of a gun. So many journalists, human rights workers, and activists have been assassinated over the past few years, 152 in 2005 alone. The latest victims of state terrorism are three members of Bayan Muna killed in Central Luzon this January. For all these reasons and more, the undersigned formations have been undertaking a campaign for Mrs. Arroyo's immediate removal as the first step toward a much desired, fundamental social transformation. The struggle continues.

The aim of this letter is not to instill fear or paranoia in the student community. We cannot be afraid of our oppressors. More than a notice of precaution, it is also a plea for all student organization and formations to fight such glaring manifestations of wickedness and iniquity in the state and society and large. We simply cannot escape political events surrounding us, no matter how insulated we think we are. Cynicism will always be the greatest enemy within our ranks.

We invite all students to a multi-sectoral protest mobilization against the Arroyo regime on February 24, 2006. Our assembly will be at the AS lobby at 11am.

Marco delos Reyes
Chairperson
University Student Council (USC)

Juan Paolo Alfonso
Head, Student Rights and Welfare Committee (STRAW)
University Student Council (USC)

Maria Isa Artajo
Chairperson
Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic
Rights in UP (STAND-UP)

Shahana Abdulwahid
Chairperson
Katipunan ng Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (KASAMA sa
UP)

Sandra Jill Santos
Convenor
Tanggulan Network for Civil Liberties (TANGGULAN)

Federico Alboleras
Convenor
Student Initiative for Gloria Arroyo's Ouster UP
(SIGAO-UP)

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