Former Vice President Jojo Binay has chided the Duterte administration for apparently reviving a witch hunt against student activists in the University of the Philippines (UP).
In a Facebook post, Binay said the government was using the rhetoric from 1960s when it hunted down student activists to justify its decision to scrap an accord with UP.
The Department of Defense has terminated 1989 deal with UP that will now allow the unrestricted entry of military and police inside its campuses. The latest DND move is supposedly in line to protect the students amid reports of rebel recruitment.
“If the administration is out to protect democracy, then it should protect academic freedom and not suppress it,” Binay said.
“If it believes what it is doing is right, then it should not be afraid to debate. If it believes it is protecting the interest of the people, then it should not be afraid of students,” he said.
“Kung takot sa malayang pag-iisip, kung takot sa malayang diskusyon, kung takot sa estudyante, alam na,” he added.
The former vice president, a UP alumnus, said scrapping the UP-DND deal was “a step backward” and would not protect students.
“It exposes them to greater danger. It does not protect academic freedom and democracy. It undermines them,” he said.
“Malaki na ang ipinagbago ng lipunan mula noon. We are more open to what used to be controversial ideas. We recognize the value of free exchange of ideas in strengthening democracy. Pero mukhang ang administrasyon, hindi pa maka-move on,” he said.
He said while UP produced known stalwarts of the left, it also gave the country a long list of presidents, vice presidents, legislators, Cabinet members, government officials, scientists, artists, and business leaders.
“To say that UP only produces communists is like saying UP graduates in the Cabinet and in government are trojan horses. Will they now say that communists have infiltrated government to justify a purge?” he said.