Albayalde asks: Why do state university students 'go against' government?

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Since they're already benefiting from the government, why do students from state-run universities still go against the state?

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde posed this question when asked by reporters Thursday, October 4, to comment on schools linked by the military to an alleged ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.

The published list included premier state school University of the Philippines, which is known for its scholar-dominated student population with a robust culture of activism.

"They are the hope of our nation, those especially studying in state universities who need to maintain an average [grade]. These are considered as the cream of the crop already. If they are the cream of the crop, they should be the hope of the land," Albayalde said in a Camp Crame press briefing.

Albayalde then compared the scholars of the state schools to what he experienced as a student of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), where he was required to work for the government after his graduation.

"Ito masabi ko... these youth are given free education by no less than the government, hindi ba? In state universities you are given free education by the government and yet hindi ka pa nag-ga-gragraduate you are already going against the same government that gives you free education. Samantalang kami when we were given free education we were required to serve the country for a minimum of 8 years kahit saan," Albayalde said.

(Here's what I can say, these youth are given education no less than the government, right? In state universities, you are given free education by the government and yet they have not graduated and they are already going against the government that gives them free education. While in our case, when we were given free education, we were required to serve the country for a minimum of 8 years anywhere.)

"So this is just our question: Why?" Albayalde asked.

Cadet life different

The life of a PMA cadet and a state university student is vastly different, however.

All cadets get free tuition and even receive salaries all while lodging and eating for free inside the academy's barracks. State university students, meanwhile, have differing levels of grants, with some being forced to take part-time jobs to make do and graduate.

Albayalde said the same for teachers who may be handing down lessons that push students to fight the government.

"Sino ba nagbibigay ng salary sa kanila hindi ba, it's the government, Filipino people, taxpayers hindi ba? So if we are being paid by the taxpayers, Flipino people, kailangan ang serbisyo natin is for the Filipino people also," Albayalde said.

(Who gives them salary? It's the government, the Filipino people, taxpayers, right? So if we are being paid by taxpayers, Filipino people, our service also needs to be for the Filipino people.)

Lessons on nationalism

He said the PNP is ready to give lessons on "nationalism" in these universities.

"'Yung mga students, kung meron silang kailangang matutunan, kung meron silang questions or doubts, puwede siguro natin sila bigyan ng liwanag kung ano talaga dapat matutunan ng isang estudyante. Siguro ito ay para madevelop na rin itong sense of nationalism and love of country na sinasabi natin," Albayalde said in a press briefing after a command conference with top PNP officials.

(If the students have to learn something, if they have questions or doubts, maybe we can shed light on what a student should learn. Maybe this is also to develop our sense of nationalism and love of country)," Albayalde said.

The PNP chief said communist infiltration of universities is nothing new and it's "common knowledge." 

The difference now, he said, was the Armed Forces' revelation of the universities, which prompted some "intervention."

"Siguro it's about high time we have parang meron tayong gawing intervention (Maybe it's about high time that we  do some intervention)," Albayalde said.

He said the PNP planned to reach out to top officials of the universities to coordinate on the next steps to be taken. Their goal is to counter what they believe to be teachings that drive students to join protests against the government. (READ: Youth activism: More than just organized action). 

The PNP chief earlier announced that they have tried to reach out to the leaders of the schools named in the military's list, even offering to teach students for the sake of fostering "nationalism." – Rappler.com

Read other stories about the government’s red-tagging of schools:

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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