THE National Union of Students of the Philippines, with student regents, student councils and governments of various colleges and universities, strongly condemn the continued book purging in state universities conducted by the AFP through the NTF-ELCAC as part of the systematic attack to trample on our academic freedom.
University administrators are mandated to be protectors of academic freedom and freedom of thought. It is their task to foster critical-mindedness. Therefore its student and faculty body should outright condemn any acts of book purging inside their institutions – coerced or not, as these are direct threats to the academic freedom of students at a time when national issues like peace talks and the ongoing civil war are not given the proper exposure it needs in the current education system. This series of book purging further limits students from accessing information pertinent to ongoing conflicts in the country. Pulling out these books translates to also pulling out the opportunities of students to make informed decisions on their own.
Purging libraries of critical materials is a direct act of crippling and suppressing academic freedom; and state-mandated policies similar to this push school administrators to shirk their duties and responsibilities to their constituents. It effectively exacerbates our already anti-democratic education where students with critical political values are at risk of being vilified, red-tagged and, worst, physically harmed by state agents.
The Union calls on all students and school leaders to campaign against these attacks on academic freedom and, on a larger scale, this anti-democratic education. Likewise, we vehemently condemn CHED’s capitulation and demand them to be proactive to stand with the students, their stakeholders – and to not blindly follow and act as puppet and stamp pad of Duterte and his state forces like the NTF-ELCAC, AFP, and PNP.
We demand CHED to:
- Outright prohibit NTF-ELCAC interventions inside academic spaces;
- Sign a memorandum that prohibits the NTF-ELCAC from engaging students in the act of red tagging;
- Protect academic freedom through terminating any forms of book purging executed by school administrators and organizations as prior mandated by state forces like NTF-ELCAC; and
- Focus on bringing students back to their schools through applying the demands of the Ligtas na Balik-Eskwela campaign and joining the call to defund and re-channel funds from NTF-ELCAC to be used in academic institutions.
In the same breath, we continue to call for the abolishment of NTF-ELCAC, as it is a primary threat to fostering critical thinking and democracy, especially of the Filipino students. The Union continues to fight for a liberating education, one that fearlessly empowers students and provides them with all tools to uplift the Filipino nation as a whole.