THE PURGE CONTINUES: Isabela State University campuses are removing from their libraries all the books of Jose Maria Sison, founding president of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the textbooks of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The purge, which began on September 1 at Kalinga State University, is supposed to “protect” students from insurgent thoughts. (Photo courtesy of ISU-ECHAGUE)

ECHAGUE, Isabela, Philippines – After Kalinga State University (KSU), Isabela State University (ISU) became the second public school in the Philippines to purge books written by or related to the communist movement in the country supposedly to “protect” young people and students from insurrectionary ideology.

ISU President Ricmar Aquino said he had asked the ISU main campus in the town of Echague and 10 other campuses in the province to remove the National Democratic Front’s textbooks from their libraries. Philippines (NDFP) and the books of Jose Maria Sison, the founding self-president in exile of the Communist Party of the Philippines (PCP).

“The UIS supports the government’s ‘national’ approach to [communist insurgency]. As an academic institution, the ISU has a mandate to protect young Filipinos and secure their future by providing them with quality and relevant education, ”Aquino told the Inquirer by telephone on Tuesday.

Returned to Nica

The ISU Library has released 23 Sison NDFP textbooks and books, including “Building People’s Power”, “Undoing Revisionism and Opportunism”, “Crisis Generates Resistance”, “Building Strength Through the struggle ”and“ Continue the struggle for liberation ”.

The move came three weeks after the KSU in neighboring Tabuk withdrew several background documents on failed peace negotiations between the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP.

Aquino said the books were handed over to Dennis Godfrey Gammad, regional director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) on Monday. The agency directs, coordinates and integrates all national intelligence activities.

He said the books would be taken to Nica’s office for storage.

Colonel Leandro Abeleda, deputy commander of the Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade (IB), witnessed the rotation at the ISU library.

According to Aquino, the decision to ban these books from ISU libraries is part of his commitment to “protect the university and its students from the damage that the Communists might inflict.”

“Save our youth”

“Our students should not be exposed to anything that can destroy their future,” Aquino added.

In a statement, the brigadier. General Danilo Benavides, commander of the 501st IB, said removing the ISU NDFP books “will save our youth” from recruitment by the CPP, its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) and the NDFP.

“The action of ISU officials and leaders indicates that they are against the ideologies of the CPP-NPA-NDF and want to protect the institution from communist infiltration,” Benavides said.

He said the move would help end the communist insurgency in the region, one of the goals of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict.

Gammad welcomed the university’s decision, saying “libraries play a fundamental role in society”.

“The books you read become a part of you. Therefore, the commitment and the responsibilities are in every page you read, ”Gammad said of turnover.

On September 1, a group of police and soldiers inspected the library at the KSU Bulanao campus in Tabuk and removed the NDFP brochures and books from the shelves and took them with them, according to Evangeline Cabello, chief librarian of KSU.

She said she decided to remove the books to “protect [the students] to be recruited to join communist groups.

Human rights pact

Among the books that were withdrawn from the KSU library was the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Unlike the ISU, which handed the books to Nica, KSU kept the books “elsewhere,” Cabello said.

She said she was of two minds about her action.

“I acted alone… but with personal reservations because I think some of these books should not have been removed from the library,” she said.

The human rights group Karapatan had denounced the actions of KSU, claiming that the removal of the books would restrict freedom of speech, academic freedom and information about the peace negotiations and the armed conflict in the country.

The Education Ministry and the Higher Education Commission have not commented on the purge of books.

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