Xavier University hits ‘Red-baiting’

Students and teachers of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City stage a noise barrage outside their school to protest the House of Representatives’ decision to reinstate the death penalty for drug-related crimes. MindaNews file photo by Froilan Gallardo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 March) – After human rights defenders and a journalist, it was the turn of some personalities and an immersion program of Xavier University (XU) in Cagayan de Oro City to be linked to communist rebels and terrorists.

“We vehemently condemn this malicious, slanderous, and groundless red-tagging against some XU personalities and one of our well-established immersion programs,” a press release from XU’s communications office quoted university president Fr Roberto C Yap SJ, as saying.

Two boxes containing the “black propaganda,” printed on a long bond paper, were reported to have been found during an opening program of a photo exhibit inside a mall in the city last week.

Mall security personnel seized the said boxes to prohibit the distribution of copies, XU said.

“This propaganda is devoid of any semblance of truth and substance. We must be critical and discerning in our news and information consumption, especially with those which were propagated and distributed through disreputable modes and channels,” Yap said.

He said he sees the “Red-baiting” as “an orchestrated effort to intimidate the faculty members and undermine the programs of Xavier Ateneo.”

“As a Jesuit academic institution, Xavier Ateneo remains committed to its mission of providing our students a real-life and holistic education through immersions and community engagements in the peripheries of our society,” he said.

“Our programs are in line with our ethos of forming leaders who will be instrumental in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue, nation-building, and sustainable development,” he stressed.

“We would like to assure the Xavier Ateneo community — our students, faculty members, administrators, staff, parents, and alumni — that we continue to look out for our safety and security at all times,” he added.

“No evidence exists that our university, programs, and activities are currently exposed to any grave threat,” he assured.

The incident came on the heels of a similar attempts to link journalists, religious missionaries, human rights defenders, and other academic institutions to the communist movement over the last few months.

Last February 22, a “hit list” believed to have come from the military tagging church people, human rights advocates, lawyers and a journalist as “terrorist members of the New People’s Army and Communist Party of the Philippines” was distributed in Cagayan de Oro.

Among those named as “terrorists” were Iglesia Filipino Independiente Bp. Felixberto Calang, Fr. Rolando Abejo of Movement Against Tyranny-Northern Mindanao, Karapatan Northern Mindanao spokesperson Fr. Khen Apus, human rights lawyers Beverly Musni, Czarina Musni and Beverly Ann Musni, and journalist Cong Corrales and his family.

“From this experience, we encourage everyone to be more vigilant now more than ever and to continue to think critically of the state of our nation,” Yap said. “This calls us to unite as one Xavier Ateneo to exercise our academic freedom in pursuit of truth and speaking truth to power to build a healthier and more effective democratic society.” (MindaNews)