Philippines: Hands off Prof. Arnold Alamon

Stand against the US-Duterte regime’s intensifying crackdown on academic freedom and civil liberties

International League of People’s Struggles Commission 11

An anonymous statement in Cebuano accusing Professor Arnold Alamon, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) assistant professor and Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro columnist, as a “gifted communist propagandist” circulated in social media last April 26, 2019. After maliciously red-tagging and vilifying Alamon, the statement concludes with a threatening “call for justice” from those purportedly deceived by his “lies and propaganda”.

Earlier, Alamon along with other professionals and civilians were also tagged as “communist terrorists” in flyers distributed in Valencia City, Bukidnon in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao last April 10, 2019.

The International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) Commission 11 for the rights of teachers, researchers, and academic workers strongly condemns the political harassment against Alamon and other progressive intellectuals and activists in the Philippines. We enjoin our comrades and colleagues in the education sector to take a stand against the US-Duterte regime’s intensifying crackdown on academic freedom and civil liberties.

One only needs to read the outpouring of support for Alamon from the academic community and various quarters to see how spurious the malicious accusations thrown against him are. To quote the MSU-IIT Sociology Department: “[Alamon] represents the progressive, humanist, and critical traditions in sociology that some uninitiated sectors, because of their limited worldview, find subversive.”

Indeed, Alamon’s immersion among the Lumad indigenous peoples of Mindanao and his writing on this basis of various articles and research that highlight their struggles is without a doubt one of the reasons why he is now a target of state repression. Alamon’s book Wars of Extinction (2017) highlights the long history of dispossession and continuing oppression of the Lumad. Alamon is also director of MSU-IIT’s Institute for Peace and Democracy in Mindanao (IPDM).

The targeting of Alamon cannot be divorced from the Duterte regime’s fascist attacks on people’s rights. The year 2019 opened with news of police forces exposed for its attempt at profiling members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT). This followed the release of a list of universities and colleges accused by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of recruiting students for a “Red October” plot to overthrow the government.

Dr. Phoebe Zoe Sanchez, University of the Philippines Cebu Chairperson of the All-UP Academic Employees Union, has received death threats thru text messages for supposedly recruiting communists in the university. She led the filing of charges against police who disrupted with the Voltes 5 theme song played on loudspeakers protest actions in Cebu City last February 25, 2019 commemorating the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship 33 years ago. Student leaders and activists have also been targeted with harassment and intimidation.

As has been the case with Atty. Ben Ramos and Escalante City Councilor Bernardino Patigas who were shot dead by suspected state agents in recent months for supporting struggling farmers in land reform disputes in Negros, we fear that the current campaign of red-tagging and slander may serve as prelude for actual extrajudicial killings, abductions, and mass arrests.

We urge all to take a stand against the US-Duterte regime’s attempts at silencing the voices of militant educators and scholars who to express solidarity with basic masses of workers, farmers, indigenous people, urban poor, and all oppressed and exploited sectors of Philippine society. We must not allow state terrorism and repression to succeed in sowing fear and stopping those who have been at the forefront of opposition to neoliberal policies that push down academic employees’ wages, institutionalizes contractual and other flexible labor schemes, and mandates state abandonment of public education.

Duterte and his rabid police-military dogs are rushing to include wider sectors of Philippine society as targets of its indiscriminate campaign of state terror: from urban poor tagged as drug suspects, workers and farmers tagged as communist rebels, and now critical voices among professionals, academics, and students. Now is the time to push back against the Duterte regime’s efforts to desensitize the people to injustice in order to ram through with impunity a shockwave of neoliberal policies and programs favorable only to foreign monopoly capital and their local comprador partners.

The regime’s anti-communist hysteria and witchhunting aims to terrorize and ultimately weaken the broad anti-imperialist and democratic movement for meaningful social change. They forget that greater unity and resistance is forged in the fire of repression as fresh sprouts are born from the ashes.

Hands off Prof. Arnold Alamon! Stand against the US-Duterte regime’s intensifying crackdown on academic freedom and civil liberties!

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