Multiple organizations and the University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) student council denounced on Tuesday a retired military official who linked them to communist terrorist elements during an online lecture.
Peale Jon Bondoc, a former major general in the Philippine Army Reserve Command, presented a list of several groups, which he labeled as “communist fronts” when he spoke via Zoom to some 400 freshmen during a National Service Training Program (NSTP) lecture about the state of the country’s national security.
Among the groups that were tagged as communist fronts during the NSTP lecture were the League of Filipino Students (LFS), Anakbayan, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Free Legal Assistance Group, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers, which has members from UP Baguio.
The UP Baguio Office of the Director for Student Affairs (Odsa) and the Student Relations Office (SRO) hit back at Bondoc, calling his actions “malicious labeling of student organizations.”
According to the Odsa and SRO, LFS-Metro Baguio and Anakbayan-UP Baguio are duly recognized organizations in the university, and categorizing them as “fronts of communist terrorist groups” could “compromise the safety and welfare of our students.”
In a separate statement, the educators’ group Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (Contend) also slammed Bondoc for allegedly labeling it and other teachers’ organizations as “terrorists” during his lecture.
“We call on fellow teachers and educators to condemn Bondoc’s baseless but dangerous accusations. As part of academic freedom, teachers and educators must safeguard our classrooms to be spaces where debate, new and alternative ideas, and a progressive spirit can thrive,” said Mon Sy, Contend vice chair and spokesperson.
“As his accusations are forms of disinformation, we deplore Bondoc’s malicious act of red-tagging educators and academic workers,” Sy said. “We hold Bondoc, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to account for spreading lies about teachers and educators’ associations that he besmirched.”
According to former UPB teacher and fellow NSTP resource person Ruel Caricativo, NSTP lectures are supposed to be given by faculty members.
Nico Ponce, a former student leader and convener of UP Rises Against Tyranny and Democracy, asked the UP faculty to help students investigate the incident.
According to UPB chancellor Corazon Abansi, a bureaucratic error allowed Bondoc to participate in the lecture. Abansi apologized and took responsibility for the incident, saying that the campus would fight any form of abuse and harassment aimed at students.
Abansi added that UPB crisis management had set up measures to protect students against red-tagging, including the provision of legal assistance.