Written by Vincent Carlo Cuzon
“It remains uncertain, however, when the war on the Maute Group in Marawi would end and that on the NPA would begin, which Dela Rosa described would be a “full scale” campaign.” – Philippine Daily Inquirer
“Full Scale Campaign” – that is how the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa for the incoming war against the New People’s Army (NPA). The description of “full scale” is not aptly defined for now. But it would be safe to assume that it includes a relentless red-tagging of student writers, leaders, and activists – one of the foundations of forced disappearances and civilian unrest in the 1970s. And let us not discount the fact that Mindanao is still under Martial Law, which suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
If we’re not NPA, then there’s no point of concern for Ateneo students, right?
No. As for writers, leaders and activists who have learned the ways of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), a ‘War against NPA’ will legitimize their assumptive procedure of red-tagging student writers, leaders and activists. Ateneo de Davao University is one of the loci centers of political activity in Mindanao. The students of this university are certainly not an exempt from red-tagging. It’s one of the hotbeds of left-leaning progressives, who are most certainly the targets of red-tagging.
What is Red-tagging?
Red-tagging is the practice of considering an individual or organization as an enemy of the state, as communists, or as rebels. A red tag can cost you nothing less, most often than not, than your own freedom or your own life. If there was a ”Huwag Tularan” tag for drug addicts, a “Red Tag” is a tantamount label for left-leaning progressives. That is a point of concern since we know how the “Huwag Tularan” tag killed a number of our countrymen. A lot of progressive student writers, leaders and activists may be next in line for the slaughter.
Writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended under Martial Law
A CNN article defines the effects of suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus as “The suspension of the writ means a person charged with rebellion or invasion may be arrested by government forces without a court-issued warrant.“ Once a student writer, leader, or activist is red-tagged, the government can easily ram up rebellion charges against him or her. As writ of habeas corpus is suspended, that student can be arrested any time.
By the numbers, how many staunch left-leaning and progressive groups do we have in Ateneo?
Generally, without full disclosure of membership, there are less than 200 left-leaning writers, leaders and activists in Ateneo. There are several organizations to name but there are three that have the great influence of the left and have substantial external affiliations with mainstream political organizations.
ATENEWS is the official student publication of the Ateneo de Davao University. ATENEWS is an active member of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), which is the largest and oldest youth organization in the country having been established in 1931. It caters to campus journalists and campus publications nationwide. CEGP is one of the nationalistic youth organizations that have been stalked and red-tagged by the military for decades. In the Marcos regime, CEGP was declared illegal and many of its members were abducted, tortured, imprisoned, and killed.
BUKLAT is one of the 3 student political parties in Ateneo de Davao University. BUKLAT follows the ideology of National Democracy. BUKLAT is a member of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP). NUSP is a breakaway group from the Student Council Association of the Philippines (SCAP). NUSP was banned during the Marcos regime. It declares itself as a patriotic, democratic, and progressive organization.
PIGLASAPAT and LIYAB
PIGALASAPAT is the oldest student political organization in the Ateneo de Davao University. It follows the ideology of Social Democracy. PIGLASAPAT includes the writers of its official organ – LIYAB. PIGLASAPAT is a member of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP). PIGLASAPAT produced the incumbent and first-Mindanaoan Chairperson of SCAP. SCAP was convened in 1996 with the participation of the student council leaders from major colleges and universities in the Philippines. SCAP works on introducing reforms for the advancement of student rights and welfare. SCAP is the largest formation of student councils, student governments, student political parties and organizations in the country, and it has alliances in Congress and Senate.
How Ateneo student writers, leaders and activists will react: Mosquito Press and Political Action
The left-leaning progressives in Ateneo de Davao will react accordingly. Since writers are often the target of red-tagging, we might see the rise of a few mosquito press: one from nationalistic Atenews (the official student publication of Ateneo de Davao University) and another from socialist LIYAB (the official publication of PIGLASAPAT) if the issue starts to swell big. Mosquito Press was coined in the 1970s Martial Law. It refers to publications that continued to criticize Martial Law despite its danger.
We do not want to disclose the full number of members. But we have less than 200 leaders, writers and activists of left-leaning organizations in Ateneo de Davao University. That is a small number as compared to the total population of Ateneo de Davao student populace, but these students are the frontliners of shaping student opinions and thoughts about the Philippines government. They have carried the responsibility of keeping the Ateneo de Davao student populace aware of government actions and policies. BUKLAT and PIGLASAPAT might release joint statements or refute each other, which will depend on the ideology they follow. BUKLAT follows National Democracy and PIGLASAPAT follows Social Democracy.
We support the progress of the country and our people. But we do not want it to come to the point where our left-leaning student writers, leaders and activists become the target of the military. With less than 200 of our student writers, leaders, and activists who are politically-inclined, red-tagging will be a serious threat in Ateneo de Davao. We don’t want to hear about missing Ateneo students in the name of a full scale ‘War against NPA.’ We don’t want to hear about writers, leaders, and activists who disappeared at the height of the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus. We do not want to hear about forced disappearances of the wrongly accused and red-tagged youth – the pag-asa ng bayan – in the name of ephemeral progress.