House Committee on Justice Vice Chair and Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles on Thursday urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to reconsider proposals to increase police visibility in university and college campuses around the country, saying that such a move is unwarranted and inconsistent with the purpose of higher learning institutions. 

“In a democratic society, there is a constant battle for the hearts and minds of the people, including the youth.”

This after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año issued a statement saying that Executive Order No. 70, which creates the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTFELCAC), justifies the PNP’s presence in schools and universities as part of their plan to counter insurgency.

“The main mandate of the PNP is to combat and prevent crime. As far as I know, no crimes are committed when students join left-leaning organizations in universities and colleges, so long as they do not take arms against the government,” emphasized the lawyer, who obtained his Master’s in Law from Harvard University and his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila School of Law.

Nograles said he agrees with his former law professor, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who said this week that even membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is not a crime unless the member commited a crime. 

“Universities and colleges should remain venues for discussion and debate, where students can explore different ideologies.” 

According to the DOJ chief, “mere membership in the CPP is not a crime unless overt criminal acts are committed.”

“Being leftist is far from being terrorist. As long as activism remains in the realm of ideology, there is nothing to be alarmed about,” said Guevarra. 

According to Nograles, vice chair of the House committee on higher education, universities and colleges “should remain venues for discussion and debate, where students can explore different ideologies and different perspectives about society.”

“In a democratic society, there is a constant battle for the hearts and minds of the people, including the youth. Based on recent surveys that show that the President has the support of the majority of our people, the government has every reason to be confident about winning this battle.” 

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