Malacañang denied Thursday President Duterte was red-tagging schools when he mentioned that universities did nothing but go against the government and recruit communists.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Duterte slammed college students who threatened to hold strikes and not comply with their academic requirements over the government’s supposed failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent typhoons.

roque2 - Palace denies Duterte red-tagging schools
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque
(OPS / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Roque said that Duterte was not red-tagging schools but was just saying that there is communist recruitment happening in schools.

“Marami na naman tayong kakilala talaga na mga nag-aaral sa mga pampublikong paaralan na talagang namumundok. In fact, ang CPP-NPA, ang founder po niyan, instructor pa sa UP, si Joma Sison (We know of many people from public schools who went to the mountains. In fact, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army is Joma Sison, an instructor from the University of the Philippines),” he said.

“That’s something that is known by people. It’s not necessarily saying na lahat kayo komunista, pero marami talagang nagre-recruit diyan (that all of you are communists but there is recruitment happening there), and that’s a fact,” he added.

Roque said the students’ remarks about the government are important to the administration but scholars should not waste taxpayers’ money by not complying with their academic requirements.

“Importante po (Their sentiments are important),” he said.

“Pero ‘pag sinasabi mong hindi ka magsa-submit ng academic requirements, kung ikaw ay isko at iska, isipin mo naman ‘yung mga taumbayan na nagbabayad sa iyong edukasyon (But when you say that you won’t submit your academic requirements and you’re a scholar, then you should think about the people who are paying for your education),” he added.

Roque said students from state universities and colleges are not like Ateneans who can afford to miss their requirements.

“’Yung mga mayayamang eskuwelahan gaya ng Ateneo, siguro balewala sa kanilang mga magulang, pero (Rich kids like those studying in Ateneo, maybe this is nothing to their parents, but) that’s well and good for them,” he said.

“Pero (However), not everyone is as rich as them,” he added.

Ateneo de Manila University had declared a mass student strike to condemn what they call the government’s “criminally neglectful response” to the recent typhoons that ravaged the country and the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Roque, there is nothing wrong with students airing their grievances against the government but told them that they should not use activism as an excuse to not comply with academic requirements.

“Kami po naging aktibista, never po namin ginamit ang aming pagiging aktibista para hindi po mag-comply sa mga academic requirements. ‘Wag naman po ganoon (I was once an activist but we never used activism as an excuse to not comply with our academic requirements. Don’t do that),” he said

“They have the right to criticize the government. Kaya lang yung mga gumagamit ng pondo ng bayan, ‘wag niyong sasayangin ang pondo ng bayan (But for those who are getting their education from taxpayers’ money, please don’t waste it),” he added. 

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