By CORDILLERAN YOUTH CENTER
If in the communities the Barangay Intelligence Network (BIN), Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and other paramilitary groups serve as surveillance networks, their counterpart in schools is the Student Intelligence Network (SIN). Reportedly under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, SIN uses students to do intelligence work among their ranks.
A notorious underground group of students, the Student Intelligence Network has been known to harass, intimidate, and threaten progressive individuals and groups in schools and universities. They are tasked to undertake surveillance, harassment, and other intelligence operations directed against progressive and militant students. SIN is recruiting students, mostly from the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)
In various colleges in the Cordillera region, SIN has been active at enticing members to join their ranks in the guise of high paying “job offers”, business and state sanction, among others. A notable case at the University of the Philippines- Baguio where a SIN member had been recruiting from progressive school organizations such as Anakbayan and Alliance of Concerned Students (ACS).
Other cases of harassment and intimidation at UP Baguio were reported by other individuals from different organizations. Two previous students with the UP official student publication Outcrop reported that they were threatened by another former member of the publication. They were told to be cautious as they were being followed. When they asked “by whom?” the person in question only replied with a shrug. Upon hearing the report, the editorial board immediately asked him to leave the publication.
More interestingly, a voice recording was acquired from a student of Benguet State University being recruited to SIN. Part of the transcribed recording said: ”Kapag may mga meetings kayo sa orgs mo. i-report mo at i-document mo lang lahat ng ginagawa’t pinaguusapan nila”.
Sinfulness of SIN
ROTC, through SIN and other forms of intelligence work, is an extension of AFP’s counterinsurgency program that aims to vilify progressive individuals and groups as subversive elements and enemies of the state. In the Cordillera, several cases have been disclosed of military instructors tagging certain individuals as members of the New People’s Army (NPA). As a result, those wrongfully tagged are beleaguered by surveillance, death threats, and other state-sanctioned acts of terror by armed authorities and ROTC cadets.
The use of military tactics in the academe will make progressive organizations and their members vulnerable to harassment or possibly be like Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, UP student alumni who were abducted in 2006. This also undermines the “free and democratic space” in schools and creates an atmosphere of fear among students who participate in legitimate activities that are critical of the government.
SIN is a violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination. The Act states that public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, and rural health units shall not be utilized for military purposes such as command post, barracks, detachment and supply depot.
Furthermore, the Philippines as a signatory to the International Humanitarian Law and other related treaties, must conform to provisions that similarly restrict the use of schools for military purposes.
Lastly, SIN violated the Sotto-Enrile Accord, an agreement between the University of the Philippines and Department of National Defense that bars military forces from entering university premises.
But more than what the laws state, it is the inherent and inalienable right of every citizen to register grievances and for the state to address the root causes of social ills. Duterte’s battle cry ‘change is coming” may indeed be near, not because his administration will render it but because the people, including youth and students, will struggle for it until genuine social change is attained.
(First published by the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera’s Binnadang Jan-Jun 2018 issue.)# nordis.net