|Bracing for deployment of soldiers in schools|
|Written by Vencer Crisostomo|
|Tuesday, 19 June 2007 21:10|
Even during the darkest days of martial law, university campuses and schools were a bastion of free speech, militancy and critical thought. Schools were a relatively safe shelter from government/military harassment and oppression.
It is thus alarming to hear that as the Human Security Act, or HAS (read: anti-terrorism law) is set for implementation this coming July, the military and the police will be deploying their troops inside schools.
Without doubt, their target will be members of progressive organizations, which they have labeled as “communist fronts.” Even before the HSA, the military has been brazen in harassing members of our organization. Some of them, like Cris Hugo, Rei Mon Guran and Farley Alcantara, ended up among victims of extrajudicial killings.
The HSA only provides a “legal” basis for military surveillance, harassment and oppression of civilians and non-combatants. The law itself is a clear manifestation that the country has been placed under an undeclared martial law in an attempt by the administration to silence its critics. Civil liberties, like freedom of assembly and speech, may soon be “legally” curtailed.
Aside from “legalizing” the curtailment of civil liberties and the deployment of military troops in non-conflict areas, the law will also limit academic discourse and discourage students from pursuing intellectual growth. One can only imagine the anxiety and fear that students would feel when they see uniformed men patrolling their campuses with heavy firearms.
Universities hold academic freedom as a core value because they promote critical thought. How can there be critical thought when armed men are around?
[Vencer Crisostomo is national chair of the League of Filipino Students.]