Two separate incidents of intimidation against UP student activists were recorded yesterday in UP Baguio (UPB) and UP Los Baños (UPLB).
UPB University Student Council Councilor Erik Biles publicized last night a screenshot of a conversation where an individual was asking about his location and the national democratic mass organization Anakbayan. The account appears to be a fake one, without much available information posted.
The conversation showed a Facebook user asking about UPB and Anakbayan, where Biles is also a member. The user went on to say that supplying information about the organization will result in giving “help.” The UPB Office of Student Relations has already released a statement, urging students to remain vigilant and report incidents of surveillance and harassment.
Hours later, cultural youth organization Panday Sining said a suspicious individual followed two student leaders from UPLB last night. One of the two is UPLB Anakbayan spokesperson Nemo Yangco who was with a member of Panday Sining when they noticed that they were being surveilled while walking. The incident lasted for “several alleys” before losing the individual.
“Mariing kinukundena ng pambansang opisina ng Panday Sining ang panananakot sa mga kabataang naninindigan para sa karapatan ng mga mamamayan. Makatarungan na manindigan para sa kapakanan ng pinagsasamantalahang sambayanan,” wrote the organization.
But this is not the first time Yangco was subjected to such scare tactics. Panday Sining also revealed that there had been two prior surveillance incidents outside Yangco’s apartment.
In a statement to the Collegian, Student Regent Iya Trinidad condemned these incidents of intimidation and surveillance, adding that they have no justifiable reasons.
“In a few days, we are set to commemorate the third year of the unilateral abrogation of the UP-DND Accord. It is evident that now more than ever, we need mechanisms to ensure our protection from state-enforced attacks, not just inside our university, but especially when such attacks happen outside,” she said.
The UP-DND Accord was an agreement signed in 1989 to protect activism in the university from state intimidation before being unilaterally junked in 2021. Without the pact, groups in UP fear intensified attacks, from surveillance to harassment. The only standing agreement with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which prohibits police entry into campuses, however, remains unobserved.
Constituent universities across the UP System have proposed to create an academic freedom panel, the latest of which was established by UP Manila. Forced at the receiving end of state-sponsored attacks, the university uses these measures to grapple with intensified transgression on academic freedom.
“We have entered a new year, yet face the same challenges of students experiencing such attacks on their safety and security. This is all the more reason to clamor for concrete guidelines and protection for all university sectors from any form of attack on our human rights,” Trinidad said. ●
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