Feb 22, 2021 @ 8:04

Wanna stop NPA recruitment? End poverty, ex-CJ Panganiban says

Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban found the government’s solution to reported rebel recruitment within universities problematic.

He said too much military power on the state is problematic, including President Rodrigo Duterte’s “increasing dependence of our civilian government on retired military officers.”

While he understands that general peace and order is the goal, there’s a huge problem when the approach is to trample or reduce personal freedoms whenever they want to stop the Communist Party and the New People’s Army from growing.

“What I cannot understand is why our military is so livid at the academic freedom that our Constitution guarantees to institutions of higher learning,” the ex-Supreme Court top abogado said in his February 21 Philippine Daily Inquirer column.

“The remedy, I believe, is to teach a superior ideology, to minimize extreme poverty, and not to curtail liberty,” he added.

Panganiban knows this by heart.

“I should know because when I was young, I was extremely poor, peddling newspapers and shining shoes when I was in the grades and in high school, and selling textbooks to my law school classmates to be able to own one myself,” he said.

“To the poor like me, Karl Marx was truly enticing, but Fr. Michael Nolan and Dr. Alejandro R. Roces, chaplain and liberal arts dean, respectively, of my school (FEU), taught me the superiority of democracy and the value of education to rise from poverty.”

To him, ending the defense deal between the government and the University of the Philippines is counterintuitive.

“I think that breaking the UP-DND accord would just alienate the educated poor from the Constitution and the State that the AFP vowed to protect,” the lawyer added. “Unreasonable restrictions on freedom favor the enemies of the rule of law. And the quickest way to lose the red sands of youth is to squeeze the hand too tightly.”

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