The members of CONTEND strongly condemn in the highest possible way the current political harassment of our member and comrade in the academe, Prof. Arnold Alamon, assistant professor at the Department of Sociology at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), handling both undergraduate and graduate classes since 2012. He is also currently the research director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy in Mindanao (IPDM) of MSU-IIT. He is also the chair of the board of alternative media news group, Davao Today.
Prof. Arnold Alamon was our member and our comrade at the University of the Philippines Diliman, who taught at the Department of Sociology for six years from 1998-2004. As a promising young sociology teacher, Prof. Alamon did not only practice professional sociology isolated from the local politics of the University and national issues. He practiced “engaged sociology,” a passionate sociology that brings sociological vocabularies to bear on current burning social issues and political conflicts. When he moved to MSU-IIT to teach sociology, Prof. Alamon continued his role as a public sociologist. He became intensely involved in different “publics” especially in the struggle of the Lumad and national minorities in Mindanao and focused his research on social conflicts.
The fruit of his research is the groundbreaking book, Wars of Extinction, that exposes the historic and continuing abuses and oppression of the Lumad in Mindanao by colonial/imperial powers, and later on, big private enterprise and the state, through the corrupt military. Because he speaks truth to power, and uses his expertise to help the oppressed, Prof. Alamon has been made the target of those who work to conceal their crimes against the people.
As educators, we are outraged that our esteemed comrade is now being vilified and labeled as a “terrorist.” A flyer distributed on April 10, 2019, in Valencia City, Bukidnon, identified him and other professionals and civilians as terrorists. On April 26, 2019, Sunstar Davao Columnist Tyrone Velez received a comment online that red-tagged and threatened fellow SunStar Cagayan de Oro columnist Arnold Alamon. The online comment states: “It is sad that despite his intelligence and being the son of a soldier, he chose to side with the immoral terrorist ideology of the CPP and the New People’s Army or NPA” (translated from the original Visayan language). It further claims that Prof. Alamon’s ultimate aim “is the overthrow of democracy, and the ultimately the replacement of our government with socialism/communism.”
The thoughtless person who made this comment must be schooled in the liberal academic culture that allows academics and students to consider as valid even the most obnoxious and ridiculous ideas, under the mantle of academic freedom. But it is one thing to discuss different ideas in the classrooms, and quite a different thing to translate them into actions outside the boundaries of academic space. Only a person with strong fascist orientation and bereft of intelligence can make the gigantic leap in concluding that because Prof. Alamon shows partiality towards certain ideas and ideologies in his writings and lectures, therefore, “[h]e is one of the best propagandists of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).” Obviously, this bad logical reasoning intends to vilify Prof. Alamon and all other academics with the same orientation as supporters of supposed “terrorist” groups. These attacks have already been systematically launched on members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), especially their union leaders and organizers.
As educators and educational workers, we are terrified by this wanton vilification and red-tagging of our comrade and similarly situated academics and public intellectuals. Prof. Alamon has always been very vocal about his critical viewpoints regarding social and political issues. Unlike other sociologists, he does not hide his ideological commitment in the name of objectivity and political neutrality. Embracing and practicing public sociology is in itself is a legitimate and tolerable praxis within the purview of academic sociology.
Hence, the public distortion of Prof. Alamon’s advocacy by a group or individuals is a sign of the intensifying fascist attacks against public figures, journalists, social media personalities, educators, human rights defenders, and mass leaders. Never before has this kind of massive and well-orchestrated red-tagging been implemented, except under the authoritarian rule of President Duterte. Clearly, this well-funded and highly organized campaign to malign the outspoken critics of the current administration is intended to deter, terrorize, and intimidate the mounting opposition against the government, notwithstanding the fact that it may also be a prelude to extrajudicial killings, abductions, mass arrests, and silencing of public intellectuals.
The ultimate goal of this red-tagging campaign is to propagate fear among the identified leftist critics and even among their supporters and allies, so they will back away—paralyzing, if not weakening, the movement seeking genuine social change.
In this climate of heightened witch-hunting of our educators and academic scholars, we enjoin all our fellow teachers and educational workers to stand fearlessly for our freedom to responsibly teach without the unjustifiable restrictions and interference from fascist impositions.
We deeply deplore this climate of fear and repression as it creates frightening effects among our fellow educators, researchers, and educational workers. It essentially interferes in our work as academics, scholars, and researchers by restricting our rights as teachers, limiting our freedom to pursue relevant social issues for research, and hampering our desire to engage different publics of our society to raise our people’s political consciousness.
We call on our fellow educators to engage those who vilify our colleagues in sober academic debates even outside the university. But more than this, we must voice our vehement opposition to such attacks against academics and intellectuals. If we will not speak and stand with our targeted fellow educators and researchers, the fascist barbarians outside the gates of our universities will soon encroach and occupy our hallowed grounds. That will be the twilight of academic freedom and the fall of the university as an autonomous institution. Beholden to the state and ruling class, we will become the mouthpiece of authoritarian potentates. In the climate of repression and the red scare, government-defined ideas will be treated as sacred edicts. In this impending darkness, educators have the duty of being the beacon of discomforting truths and critical ideas.
HANDS OFF OUR TEACHERS!
HANDS OF PROF. ARNOLD ALAMON!
DEFEND ACADEMIC FREEDOM AGAINST RED-TAGGING AND WITCH-HUNTING!
DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF EDUCATIONAL WORKERS!
STRUGGLE FOR A FREE AND FASCIST-FREE UNIVERSITY!
DOWN WITH FASCISM!
DOWN WITH STATE-SPONSORED TERRORISM!
[Photo from https://www.bulatlat.com/2015/11/10/institute-for-lumad-studies-initiated/, retrieved May 8, 2019]
Date: May 07, 2019