By NITZ ARANCON
and JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
MEMBERS of the legislative bodies of Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental appealed to police authorities to be mindful of human rights as they carry out Camp Alagar’s order for them to subject colleges and universities in the region to surveillance operations in an effort to prevent the New People’s Army (NPA) from recruiting students.
Councilor Suzette Magtajas Daba, chairperson of the city council’s education committee, lauded the police regional office’s move to monitor colleges and universities in northern Mindanao so as to thwart attempts by the NPA to recruit students, but she added that authorities should be careful about not violating civil rights.
“Maayo na nga move sa PNP na mag-monitor sa mga estudyante but without violating the rights pud sa tagsa-tagsa,”Daba said.
Provincial board member Gerardo Sabal III also called on the police to respect the rights of students.
At the same time, he said, citizens should also respect police work “kay lakip man kana sa ilang responsibilidad subay sa ilang motto nga ‘to serve and protect.’”
Sabal, who chairs the provincial board’s education committee, said the police surveillance of colleges and universities in the region should not be a cause for alarm for law-abiding citizens.
“Kon na-a usay da-otang gihubat ang mga estudyante, responsibilidad man usab sa atong mga otoridad paghatag protection sa atong mga kaigso-onan,” Sabal said.
Daba, for her part, said parents of students should make it a point to know the activities of their children while schools should teach students how to react when there are efforts by the NPA to recruit them.
But Alliance of Concerned Teachers regional president Ophelia Tabacon expressed apprehension over Camp Alagar’s order, saying she feared that the police could intimidate and traumatize students in campuses.
As a result, Tabacon said, “students would dread going to schools as they will fear that they will be accused of being NPA recruits. This will traumatize them.”
“Have they run out of people to accuse that they have to drag our students into this fascist propaganda?” she asked rhetorically.
An official of the Department of Education here confirmed Tuesday that they were aware of intelligence reports that some schools in the region have been infiltrated by the NPA and that it has students.
Ramon Abrera Jr., information officer of the Deped in Region 10, said, “Reports indicate that they (NPA) have recruited some students.”
Abrera however said the reports about the alleged NPA infiltration and recruitment apply to some schools in hinterland villages. He said Deped has no information about colleges and universities in the region.
He said the education department has been closely working with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) to counter the NPA recruitment activities in the schools.