Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 40 November 10 - 16, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
of security guards, IDs with digital tracking codes, monitoring cameras, a ban
on pentel pens, students made to sign a waiver not to enlist in
anti-administration groups. Campus repression, militant groups say, is back
again in Metro Manila’s schools and all because national security and police
authorities tag these campuses as breeding ground of terrorists.
Alexander Martin Remollino
UP-Diliman with Oblation (left) and PUP campus in Sta. Mesa (right): terrorist havens?
so long ago it was not so difficult to get into the campus of the Polytechnic
University of the Philippines (PUP) in Old Sta. Mesa, a lower middle class
district that is traversed by a railway in Manila. All that one had to put up
with was the routinary ID check.
is not the case these days. Today, one has to pass through eight security guards
who would search through your bag and perform body search.
development arose in the wake of the inclusion of PUP Sta. Mesa in a Philippine
National Police (PNP) list of "high-risk institutions". Other schools
in the list are the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City;
the University of the East (UE) on C.M. Recto Avenue in Manila; the Far Eastern
(FEU) on N. Reyes Avenue in Manila; the University of Santo Tomas (UST), and the
Rizal National High School. According to the PNP, these schools are at high risk
of becoming "terrorist" centers because of the high number of
activists among their students, the police said.
Sta. Mesa, UP Diliman, and UE Recto have been centers of student activism a
generation ago or even before the terrorist tag became what critics say a way of
suppressing dissent. The Kabataang Makabayan and the Samahan ng Demokratikong
Kabataan, student activist organizations that became prominent in the people's
struggle during the late 1960s-early 1970s, were founded by students and alumni
of UP Diliman. Most of their members came from the same school and from PUP Santa
Mesa and UE Recto.
this day, these universities are known for the great numbers of activists who
the other hand, FEU and UST have not been as noted for being centers of
activism. However, they experienced a surge of activism within their premises
during the height of the campaign to oust former President Joseph Ejercito
Francisco "Dodong" Nemenzo, UP President, did not comment on the issue
of UP Diliman's being included in the PNP list.
PUP and elsewhere, however, various quarters have registered strong opposition
to these schools' being listed as "high-risk institutions".
President Dr. Ofelia Carague said that although there are many activists in
their school, "these are not terrorists and are not armed."
are not terrorists," a PUP student said. "It is our studies we attend
cannot allow the youth who are fighting for their legitimate rights to be
labeled as terrorists," said VJ Topacio, vice chair of the militant League
of Filipino Students. "This is clearly another red-scare tactic of the
Arroyo administration intended to drive the youth away from the growing
progressive youth movement."
Palatino, chair of the militant National Union of Students of the Philippines,
sees a prelude to further campus repression in the PNP listing. "A few
months ago, National Security adviser Roilo Golez branded militant organizations
in various universities as the breeding ground of communist sympathizers,” he
said in a recent press statement. “This pathetic line of thinking may help
explain the PNP statement about the high-risk schools. The looming increased
presence of police personnel in our schools may more than be a move to prevent
terrorist attack, but also to check the growing influence of militant
NUSP leader added: "Even before the terror scare hit the country, students
from FEU, UE and UST had been complaining about repressive policies in their
campuses. Security personnel armed with big guns, surveillance cameras and
prison-like regulations inside these schools have almost muted the freedom of
expression and democratic rights of the students. We worry less of terrorism but
more of the attacks on our basic rights by our school officials and the
UST it is not just the high number of armed security guards that the students
have to put up with. Their new ID cards have digital tracking codes which could
pinpoint the location of any student within the campus.
schools at the University Belt are not the only ones that have been subjected to
the University of Manila, there is no student council, no school paper, no
organization whatsoever. According to the university administration, the only
duty of students is to study.
the Mapua Institute of Technology, monitoring cameras are installed at almost
the Philippine Maritime Institute, students are not allowed to bring pentel
pens. School administrators say this is because pentel pens could be used for
all schools in Metro Manila require freshmen to sign waivers stating that they
would not join any organization critical of school policies. Joining such
organizations could be grounds for suspension or dismissal.
the issuance of the PNP list of "high-risk institutions," it is widely
feared that an escalation of campus repression by both the government and school
administrators is soon to follow. Bulatlat.com