Opposition Senator Leila de Lima urged Congress to consider the reported removal of books, pamphlets, research or any reading material considered by the government to be “subversive” from state university libraries.
In tabling Senate Resolution No.933, De Lima underscored the need to review policies imposed by law enforcement, saying such a decision restricts academic freedom in higher education institutions.
“The removal of books from state university libraries is a direct and blatant attack on academic freedom enshrined in the Philippine Constitution of 1987,” De Lima said.
“These actions of the government’s counterinsurgency task force not only directly contravene the state’s duty to protect and promote the moral and intellectual well-being of the people, but in reality run completely against the path of peace, ”she added.
Last September, books and other reading materials on the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and other topics deemed anti-government by the military were reportedly removed from the libraries of three universities in the Philippines. State.
The three educational institutions, she said, are Kalinga State University (KSU), Isabela State University (ISU) and Aklan State University ( KNEW).
The books withdrawn include the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL); NDFP Declaration and Program of Action for the Rights, Protection and Welfare of Children; and the main arguments of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NDFP.
Although the books were considered “subversive,” the University of the Philippines (UP) -Visayas, through a message from its chancellor, Dr Clement Camposano, declined the call to remove the reading materials. and books from their libraries.
The re-election senator said the government should think about its policies instead of investing a lot of time and resources censoring libraries.
The government should also train its resources and programs to implement strategic and long-term solutions to the decades-old communist insurgency.
“Freedom of thought is a cornerstone of academic freedom and a central pillar of any functioning democracy. Higher education institutions should foster an environment conducive to the free exchange of ideas and the development of critical thinking, ”she stressed.
“The aim of education should be to train and sharpen the minds of learners and expose them to the widest range of knowledge and ideologies possible in order to produce critical thinkers and not blind followers or sycophants. “, she added.
She also said the UP-Visayas should be commended for protecting academic freedoms against the current government’s insurgency attempts.
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