Last Friday morning, as I was busy attending to some tasks at our medical mission for the UP Manininda and their families at the Palma Hall parking lot, I was informed by Jaque, a fellow councilor in the University Student Council, that some fellow students were arrested by the Presidential Security Group and brought to a police station along Anonas for holding a peaceful protest at the UP-Ayala Techno Hub on the occasion of President Arroyo’s arrival for the park’s inauguration. Together with Jaque and some of my law blockmates, we immediately proceeded to QC Police Station 9 along Anonas to help settle things with authorities and ensure that the students will not get jailed, harmed or anything of that sort.
For more than two hours, the police refused to release the students without orders from their higher-ups even though no charges were filed. Eventually, dozens of other students flocked to the station and pressed for the eight students’ release. Soon enough, the media came. Calls from the UP Administration itself ultimately pressured the police to eventually release the students.
Interestingly, a few days after the incident, just last weekend, copies of an open letter written by an “army officer” was being circulated in campus justifying military presence in the university by invoking fear of communists and demonizing and red-tagging legitimate student organizations as communist fronts. The letter claims that it is more of a disservice to students if they don’t maintain presence in campus, to protect the students from the evils of political dissenters.
It’s quite alarming how the government has transcended its subtle forms of campus repression into more blatant forms of suppressing legitimate dissent in the University of the Philippines. Government agents have now become so brazen enough to repress peaceful protest and circulate military propaganda within the hallowed grounds of the Diliman Republic. In light of worsening and persistent economic and political crises under the Arroyo administration, it is obvious why the establishment sees the need to employ all means possible, from killing and prosecuting activists in to suppressing youth protests in campus, to preserve, and God forbid, further extend and entrench itself. Such however, we should realize, will prove to be the establishment’s own undoing.