gluttononabudget has been blogging for quite some time now. she says her blog is so named because she ‘perenially scrounges around for something good to eat and (my) wallet is not that generous, and (my) credit card threatens me of immense debt that will span several zip codes.’
this got my attention: Bank in UP robbed, 3 dead. apart from one of the casualties named renato reyes (nato‘s namesake), a guard of the Veterans Bank beside Bahay ng Alumni inside the University of the Philippines who was instantly pronounced dead at the crime scene, this news bit rang warning bells inside my head.
true enough, authorities were quick to blame UP for its ‘lack of security measures.’ UP has its own police system and under an existing post-martial law Memorandum of Agreement, police and military forces are not allowed inside UP premises unless properly coordinated with or sanctioned by the university administration.
this line of reasoning has dangerous implications, especially during a time when campus militarization runs rampant in universities nationwide.
in the past months, we have documented numerous police and military-sponsored fora inside campuses in coordination with the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in UP, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, some universities in the University Belt area and in the regions, most prominently in Mindanao. these fora were all conducted under the guise of ‘peace and order’ but in their entirety were focused on red-baiting and demonization of legal progressive and youth activist organizations.
alarmingly, student opposition to these fora, military intervention and government policies inside campuses has resulted in out-and-out harassment, political persecution and ‘criminalization’ of known student activists — namely, the filing of baseless rebellion cases against five student leaders in PUP Lopez, Quezon, the charging of criminal cases against 11 students in PUP main, the suspension of 19 students from the Jose Rizal University who staged a picket protest against the Value Added Tax, and the pin-pointing of certain student leaders as alleged ‘NPA recruiters and communists.’
it is all the more highly-suspect now that gloria arroyo has issued Executive Order 739 or the creation of a National Peace and Order Council which is nothing but a localized and decentralized mechanism of the National Security Council aimed to conduct so-called anti-insurgency measures under the pretense of ‘maintaining peace and order.’ the latest EO has been hailed as nothing but a tool which operationalizes an authoritarian regime, erases civilian authority, is part of moves to extend arroyo’s term through the formation of police states.
this seems to be the latest though not newest tactic of the arroyo regime to further suppress dissent and repress its critics. in Southern Tagalog, 72 have been charged with unfounded criminal cases, 27 of them known activist leaders and members of progressive organizations. this same scheme was what the arroyo government brandished on the likes of peasant leader Randy Echanis, detained until now, and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo.
more cause for concern is how the criminalization of activists continues to give more license to authorities and the government’s armed machinery to perpetuate with impunity extra-judicial killings, torture and forced disappearances against its most vocal detractors and the broad anti-arroyo movement in general.
but while these are understandably cause for alarm, the anti-arroyo movement is given more grounds for unity and action to prevent arroyo’s continuous stay in power. these developments smack of arroyo’s desperation in light of never-ending and unresolved issues of illegitimacy, corruption and human rights violations amid economic strife and social injustice — and, on the other hand, the continuous development of a broad anti-arroyo movement as the only viable weapon to defy and counter arroyo’s tyranny and impetuous desire to stay in power until 2010 and beyond.
even the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), a decidedly conservative and not-too-long ago anti-people power institution, finally relented and called for ‘active involvement of the people’ to bring about drastic changes in government NOW. ###