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Group condemns โ€˜assaultโ€™ of UP students in Pampanga

PORAC — A militant group issued a formal statement condemning the alleged physical assault of members of a military unit against three students of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UP) recently here.
Anakbayan, in a statement, said the three Bachelor of Science Community Development students were in the community for their field work, which they said is “a requirement for all Community Development students before they can graduate.”
Among the three is Anton Dulce, 25, who is incidentally the national vice-chairperson of Anakbayan.
“We condemn, in the strongest terms possible, the actions of the military as an attack on academic freedom and the very institution of the University. Due to the incident, the students have been unable to return to the community out of fear of further attacks by the military,” Anakbayan said.
Anakbayan also said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has now resorted to tagging as “terrorists” and “NPAs” “anyone who critiques and questions government policies and programs, as well as anyone who tries to assist the rural and urban poor in addressing their various social problems.”
“It is programs like that of the Department of Community Development, which continues to make UP relevant in understanding and addressing Philippine social problems. Yet the AFP itself is directing its violence against such programs. The military has clearly shown that it is anti-development and anti-peace,” Anakbayan said.
The group is also calling on the Department of Justice to immediately act upon and investigate the incident.
The 70th Infantry Division, meanwhile, said it is now closely coordinating with UP faculty members, including some of the field supervisors who went to Porac last Friday for further inquiries.
The inquiry is led by Major Harold Cabunoc of the Office of the Army Public Affairs Office.
Cabunoc said the faculty of UP was surprised by the press release/statement of Anakbayan while UP was still conducting an inquiry to the incident.
“The Philippine Army and the College of Social Work and Community Development of the University of the Philippines have had several conversations related to the incident and are coordinating to assure the safety of the Community Development students so they can continue conducting fieldwork in Porac. Maj. Cabunoc, the concerned UP students, and the faculty of UP are set to meet again anytime this week. They are looking into the possibility of letting the students go back to Pampanga to continue the school activity,” the AFP said in the statement.
The AFP said it is not its policy to practice the use of force beyond legal means, more so physically assaulting a civilian.
“We will not stop investigating even if per verification with the police blotter from the area indicates that the men who allegedly assaulted the students were not soldiers. If ever we will find out that any of our personnel has resorted to extralegal means related to this incident, we will make sure the soldier will be held liable for such acts,” the AFP said.

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Monday, March 26, 2012 Safety, Law and Order in Pampanga




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