The University of the Philippines is not recruiting rebels, one of its officials said Wednesday after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to defund the state university over students' supposed links to the communist movement.
Recruiting rebels is not part of the core mission of UP, its vice president for public affairs Elena Pernia said.
"Wala naman nakasulat sa mission namin iyong recruitment at hindi namin ginagawa iyon," she said in an interview on Teleradyo. "Ang UP is not in the business of recruiting for the communists, iyong supposedly na sinasabi tungkol sa amin."
President Duterte on Tuesday night threatened to "stop the funding" for studies of UP students following calls for an academic break due to widespread devastation caused by successive typhoons. Duterte cited alleged rebel recruitment efforts in his threat.
"UP? Fine, maghinto kayo ng aral. I will stop the funding. Wala nang ginawa itong ano, kundi magrecruit ang mga komunista diyan," Duterte said in a televised address.
Pernia said she hopes the President would also see the contributions of UP to the country, including its research for the COVID-19 fight.
The UP OCTA Research Team, composed of alumni of the state university for instance, has been active in sharing studies to guide policymakers in formulating the Philippines' pandemic response.
"Dapat naman siguro makita din ng Presidente na ang laki ng kontribusyon ng mga alumni natin sa iba't-ibang sektor ng ating lipunan," Elena said. "Maputol mo iyong funding sa amin, ano naman ang magagawa namin?"
Several government officials in all branches of government, ranging from Cabinet secretaries to justices and lawmakers, are alumni of UP.