The University of the Philippines Visayas received the members of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) headed by Regional Director Anna Liza Umpar of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) at the UPV Miagao Campus on October 29, 2021.
The delegation was given a tour of the research facilities on campus, including the hatchery of the Institute of Aquaculture and the Philippine Genome Center-Visayas located in the Regional Research Center Complex, where they were given a briefing by Mr. Allan Failaman and Dr. Noel Ferriols, respectively. A presentation of the research and extension activities of the University was also provided by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension, Dr. Harold Monteclaro.
The NTF-ELCAC team included Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales, Lt. Col. Constander Cahayon, Lt. Col. Tony Timbal, Major Ruel Llanes, DRD Lemwel Casas, ARD Montano, Lt. Rafman Altre, Capt. Apitong, Major Ashley Cruz, PSSG Nikka Canlas, Major Rey Tolosa, Former Rebel Winnie Dobleza and, Former Rebel Ka Boy. Attending the meeting virtually were representatives of DILG, CHED, and another rebel returnee, James Saguino.
The RTF-ELCAC explained their mandate to the Chancellor, and also conveyed their appreciation for the opportunity to engage the university administration in a dialogue. Former rebels shared some of their experiences to lend substance to the presentation the team made. At the end of the program, Director Umpar turned over to the Chancellor books and materials from the multi-agency task force as well as copies of a coffee table book on the Indigenous Peoples, published by the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
Chancellor Camposano, in his message, underscored UP’s commitment to academic freedom and its openness to dialogue. “The one thing that defines UP is that we are open to the free exchange of ideas. This engagement should be seen in that light. We… may have different views, but UP is committed to the spirit of dialogue…”. He said that it is important to hear from the officials and representatives of the task force as well as “for the RTF to see where we are coming from as a university based on our mandate and our tripartite function of teaching, research, and extension.”
The Chancellor further emphasized that the University is not just here to provide young people with skills for the job market. The real business of UP is to provide the country with intellectual capital, and with academic and scientific leadership, as well as leadership in other sectors. This requires academic freedom. “Our way of teaching our students is by exposing them to a wide range of ideas and not cloistering them”, Chancellor Camposano pointed out. He also reminded the task force that the best antidote to propaganda is critical thinking.
The engagement of the parties need not end here, the Chancellor said. While the University will continue to perform its mandate as enshrined in the UP Charter, there is always room for different institutions of government to work together. He ended by emphasizing that the different opinions they have on a number of issues need not keep them from working together to improve people’s lives. “We are always here to help government,” he added.
Joining the Chancellor were Vice-Chancellor Harold Monteclaro; UPV Legal Counsel Atty Nellie Jo Regalado; Alumni Director, Prof. Rey Gonzales; IPO Director Prof. Julie Prescott, Office of the Chancellor Project Development Asst. Anna Razel Ramirez, Security Service Force Chief Raymund Germarino, Exec. Asst. to the Chancellor Eloisa Jamolo, Wilfredo Palete, Ellaine Rae Daguman and Christy Marie Nerpiol of the OC.