A University of the Philippines (UP) official on Thursday refuted President Rodrigo Duterte’s accusation that the university recruits students to become rebels and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“We do not recruit for the Communist Party [of the Philippines]. We have our mandate, we are an educational institution. We teach, we do research, we do public service,” UP vice president for public affairs Dr. Elena Pernia said in an ANC interview.
Duterte also accused the University of the Philippines of recruiting communist rebels inside their campus.
“‘Yung mga eskwelahan, UP, fine. Maghinto kayo ng aral, I will stop the funding. Wala nang ginawa itong ano kundi mag-recruit ng mga komunista diyan,” he said in his weekly address.
The UP official said the university’s liberal environment teaches students to be critical thinkers, and it should not be mistaken for recruitment for anti-government forces like the CPP.
“The university is a liberal environment, and we value the fact that we can speak out, and academic freedom. That includes freedom to think, freedom to speak, freedom to disagree. This is seen as being dissident when it is not,” Pernia said.
“Being an activist is not a crime,” she added.
University of the Philippines not recruiting for CPP – official
Though UP has been known for its activism, Pernia said it is not “anti-government.”
“We are the national university, we are dedicated to our nation’s quest for development. In fact, many of our government officials are from UP. Noong estudyante sila, ganoon rin sila, nagtatanong, kritikal. Pero pagka-graduate nila, sila rin ang tutulong sa bayan,” she said.
Pernia added that defunding UP will deprive the people’s scholars of quality education and affect the government services and research initiatives that UP provides for the government, whoever the President is.
The University of the Philippines system has 50,000 to 60,000 students, 5,500 faculty members, around 5,000 academic staff in 16 campuses, and eight other attached units, Pernia said.
“We hope it will not happen because the university’s operations is nationwide. We do most of our research projects in partnership with the government. Iyong P19 billion, kasama roon ang hospital operations of PGH. Any achievement of the government is fed partly by the achievements we made. Hindi ba sayang naman iyon?” Pernia said.
“Ang mandato namin ay knowledge creation, innovation. Sayang naman iyong kahusayan na nagagawa namin para sa bayan. I hope the President won’t do it.”