MANILA, Philippines — Nearly 300 members of the academe have denounced the attacks and killings of activists in the country, saying such have no place in a nation that considers itself a democracy.
The joint statement from professors of universities nationwide, came after the release of an alleged memorandum by the interior department on March 10, which was signed by Asec. Alexander Macario.
Here, the DILG classified the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and the Confederation for Unity Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees or Courage as front organizations of the armed communist movement.
"We stand united against government profiling, red-tagging and terrorist-tagging of lawyers, teachers, unionists, peasants, workers – activists – and activist organizations," signatories, which have reached 291 by Wednesday, said.
The said memo also asked its regional offices to conduct an investigation, and come up with a list of employees suspected to be members of the progressive group Courage.
Usec. Bernardo Florece Jr., however, sought to deny the existence of this document, according to a report by the Philippine News Agency earlier today.
Members of the academe said government should instead respond better to the coronavirus pandemic instead of putting to "waste our precious human and financial resources on such unlawful acts which can be weaponized to silence dissent or even 'neutralize' dissenters."
Already a new surge of infections is underway, that experts warned could bring the Philippines' daily cases to 8,000 by end of the month if left unabated. There are also more cases of Filipinos contracting the COVID-19 variants.
"We stand united against the attacks on our right to organization and right to express dissent," the statement continued. "We call upon the International Criminal Court to include all these recent attacks in their Philippines-related investigations."
Professors also urged the Supreme Court to halt the implementation of the highly-contested Anti-Terror Law, which they said has encouraged "tyrannical forces to repress and kill dissent." Further, it pressed Congress too to probe the attacks, and pass stronger laws for the protection of human rights.
"We call upon the Filipino people and all freedom-loving people worldwide to raise our collective voice against the dark forces that threaten to obliterate what is left of our fragile democracy," they added.
Across the country, not only activists are now being profiled. Opposition lawmakers from the House of Representatives are seeking an investigation too on the police's move for profiling lawyers of alleged armed rebels, calling it a "clear and present danger" to the legal profession.
On March 13, police leadership sacked the intel officer of the Calbayog police over seeking for the said list of lawyers. — with reports from Xave Gregorio and Bella Perez-Rubio
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