DLSL students furious over PAF ‘Peace’ forum

Students were shocked and took to voicing their disagreements when a “Campus Peace and Development Forum” webinar went off-topic.

Organized by Philippine Air Force (PAF) and a required webinar for first year De La Salle Lipa (DLSL) college students, the online forum caused an uproar among the participants as the subject deviated to discussions on alleged links between various student activist organizations and communist groups, Sept. 22.

The Philippine Air force (PAF) organized a webinar for DLSL freshmen students entitled ”Campus Peace and Development Forum” via Zoom Meeting.

Eric Almendras, one of the speakers from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), warned the webinar participants to stay away from student activist organizations claiming that they are directly affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

“Pwedeng nakapasok sila [CPP-NPA] sa inyong campuses at puwede pong ang mukha nila ay League of Filipino Students, Anakbayan, Kabataan Party[list], College Editors Guild, National Union of the Students of the Philippines, o iba pang mga organizations na hindi natin nahahalata,” said Almendras.

Prior to this statement, he argued that the audience should believe what he was saying and claimed that he had been part of the CPP-NPA before.

“Magtiwala po kayo sa’min kasi doon kami nanggaling, ginawa na namin ‘yan, dalawang dekada mahigit ako na nandun sa kanila,” said Almendras.

Eric Almendras mentions various youth organizations which he claimed are engaged in activities against the government. (Screenshot from Campus Peace and Development Forum Webinar via Zoom Meeting)

Almendras continued to describe the progressive youth organizations as groups with a single goal of antagonizing the government.

“What is common to them, para hindi po tayo maloko o malinlang, [ay] ‘yung kanilang attempt palagi is atakihin ang gobyerno, pahinain po ang government, kailangan itanim ang galit sa damdamin ng mga bata, at udyokan na tayo ay lumaban sa gobyerno, at hindi tayo nakakakita ng mabuti sa mga ginagawa ng nasa government—lahat mali,” said Almendras.

Josiah, a first-year student and one of the attendees, expressed how she was stunned by the claims.

Various organizations mentioned which were said to be affiliated with CPP-NPA. (Screenshot from Campus Peace and Development Forum Webinar via Zoom Meeting)

“Pinakana-intriga at nabahala ako nang banggitin nila ang mga progresibong organisasyon ng kabataan tulad ng Anakbayan, Kabataan Partylist, SCMP, na silang ini-ugnay niya sa CPP/NDF/NPA. Tila ba pinipigilan ang mga Lasalyano sa pakikiisa sa pag-aksyon laban sa katiwalian sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng mga progresibong organisasyong ito,” said Josiah.

Moreover, Josiah added that the webinar seemed to be warning against criticizing the government.

“Sa tingin ko po ay ginagamit ng PAF ang malawakang plataporma ng institusyon ng DLSL para hadlangan ang nagpupumintig na boses ng kabataan. Ginamit ang webinar na ‘required’ kuno para mapigilan ang kritisismo ng kabataan sa gobyerno,” Josiah said.

Riaan, a psychology student, shared similar sentiments.

“Bilang estudyante, [para sa ’kin] ay ang tingin ng estado ay madali tayong manipulahin kaya tinuturuan nila tayo na huwag maging against sa gobyerno. Na ang mga aktibistang estudyante ay biktima lang ng CPP-NDF-NPA na nirekrut pero ang totoo ay dapat naman talagang labanan ang naghaharing-uri na inaabuso ang mamamayan—mapa-bata, matanda, estudyante, manggagawa,” said Riaan.

She added that she was angry towards the attempt to dissuade students from joining various student activist organizations.

“Nanginginig ako sa galit. Ang sabi ng PAF ay ‘peace for campus’ ang kanilang webinar pero ang totoo ay ‘peace for the ruling class’ lang ang gusto nila. Binabaliktad pa ang istorya na delikado sumali sa mga progresibong organisasyon eh kaya naman nagiging delikado ay dahil pinapatay nila,” said Riaan.

As the forum progressed, the speakers called out the participants for throwing hashtags #HandsOffOurYouth and #NoToRedTagging in the forum chatbox, along with other criticisms.

“Nasasainyo po ‘yan kapag patuloy kayong mabubuhay sa lason at anino ng propaganda agitation kung anong grupo man ang kinabibilangan ninyo, but this activity, we are aiming to protect our youth and our people sa deceptive at manipulative scheme of propaganda agitation,” said Almendras.

“[…] Kung hindi po kayo sang-ayon ‘dun, karapatan ninyo iyon, pero may hangganan ang karapatan ninyo, you cannot call on the people to put down and overthrow a government, that is no longer part of your right,” he added.

The speakers then pointed out the students’ “manners” when a participant typed “OSCARS award goes to miss Anabelle [Sabado],” in the chat box, referring to another speaker in the webinar who claimed that her son’s life was destroyed by joining an activist group and who was recruited by the NPA.

“I hope ang mga taga-De La Salle ay basic po sa kanila ang pagtuturo sa good manners and right conduct, ‘no? […] Sabagay, ang edukasyon po ay hindi garantiya ng mabuting asal, ang mabuting asal po ay natutunan sa bahay, ‘yan po ang unang sinisira ng CPP-NPA-NDF—ang pagkawala ng mabuting asal, pagiging magalang at respeto,” said Almendras.

Participants from the Campus Peace and Development Forum express their opinions in the chat box during the webinar. (Screenshot from Campus Peace and Development Forum Webinar via Zoom Meeting)

As of press time, DLSL has yet to release a statement regarding the incident.

Comments

  1. Kudos to the author of this article. May we have more youth be aware of SOME authorities using their power for their own political agenda.

    #HandsOffOurYouth
    #NoToRedTagging

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