BU student-activist allegedly red-tagged by state forces Nebres calls case a “simple harassment”

by Jevan Dex G. Miranda, Unibê Writer

In Bicol University (BU), Nursing student and Kabataan Partylist (KPL) - Bicol Spokesperson Dani De Jesus is currently facing an alleged red-tagging case as alert posters claiming her to be a “terrorist” and member of communist groups were seen plastered around Peñaranda Park, Legazpi City earlier this week.

In an April 26 Facebook post of KPL Bicol, they warned about the supposed harassment inflicted on De Jesus by state forces through misleading posters calling her a terrorist front member.

De Jesus shared that the said posters warned the public of her actions and accused her of having connections with the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army - National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) as an agent recruiting young individuals to join the communist group.

“… Nakapaskil na red tagging posters kung saan nakasaad ang isang babala na wag daw magpaloko sa akin dahil kina-kasangkapan daw ako ng CPP-NPA-NDF upang magrekrut ng mga kabataan,” she said.

De Jesus added that despite her attempt to get a hold of CCTV footage from the Albay Provincial Capitol just in front of the park, they failed to get a camera angle focused on the area in hopes of finding the people responsible for putting up the posters.

“After nito ay magpapatulong sana ako sa pagbaklas ng mga red-tagging posters, ngunit sinabihan akong hindi raw ako matutulungan kahit wala pang benteng hakbang ang park mula sa Capitol. Kaya naman mag-isa kong tinanggal ang mga posters na ito gamit ang alcohol at kuko ko,” she added.

Demand for action

The case of De Jesus led to an all out student online protest with the hashtags “#HandsOffDani” and “HandsOffStudentActivists” aiming to impact and lessen the array of attacks against progressive individuals or groups using social media platforms like Facebook.

Progressive student alliances within the university, such as Rise for Education - BU defended De Jesus and demanded for a collective call against student attacks similar to the recent case.

“Ngayon na siya (De Jesus) na ang nakararanas ng atake, tinatawagan namin ang lahat ng mga estudyante, organisasyon, publikasyon, konseho, at pati ang administrasyon ng BU na tumindig kasama si De Jesus at kolektibong kundenahin ang mga atake laban sa kanya at sa iba pang mga biktima ng red-tagging,” they stated.

Moreover, student political organizations from BU have also expressed support for activists in accord with their demand for justice.

“Mahigpit naming kinukundena ang ganitong mga kilos na walang basehang inilalako ang aming kasamahan bilang sangkot sa terorismo o rebelyon,” BUKLOD BU posted via Facebook.

They furthered that these attacks will only strengthen the threats towards activists and endanger them on a daily basis.

Following recent posts, the BU League of Liberal Reformists: Reporma Coalition (LLR-Reporma) also put up their share of dismay because according to them, this causes fear and distress inside and outside of the institution.

“Ang pangyayaring ito ay nagdudulot ng takot at pangangamba at hindi dapat nating hayaan na patuloy itong mangyari sa loob at labas ng ating pamantasan,” they said.

Additionally, BU Leaders: League of Democrats also shared their concern regarding De Jesus’ case and labeled this as a violation of freedom.

Because of this, De Jesus also shared that she was removed from an event due to her involvement in the incident to protect their members from any external threats and intimidations.

BU Admin’s Move

Meanwhile, the BU administration through President Baby Boy Benjamin Nebres III claimed that they were only made aware of the situation earlier this morning, April 28.

Upon hearing the case, Nebres said that he already reached out to his contact from police intelligence regarding the alleged attack and revealed that there were no reports or information about it.

“I am not aware, I am shocked, because we have an agreement with this intelligence sa organization within the military na they [are] going to inform me (about such cases) and walang information,” he said.

He added that this might be another case of harassment and that De Jesus should’ve reported it directly to the police.

“I think it’s a simple harassment. Bakit hindi niya sa PNP ipa-blotter? It's harassment. Kasi I am contacting our friends, and they are telling me that they don’t have any idea about it,” Nebres affirmed.

To address the case, the president called for De Jesus to report to his office and ask her for more information on the incident.

“I am looking for her to come to my office and I have to question her about that. Kasi ang next step ko is papuntahin siya sa PNP, samahan ng ating university officials, magpa-blotter,” he said.

Further, Nebres said that cases like these should be initially reported to the administration because he believes that with their assistance and protection, these cases could be addressed properly.

“Kasi para sakin kasi dito is the administration should know first before they have to post these things. Because how can [we] protect our students kung naka post na lahat na wala pa kaming ginagawa? Hindi kami ini-inform,” he added.

Meanwhile, when asked whether or not a Comprehensive Anti-Red Tagging Policy submitted in the last General Legislative Council meeting has reached their office, Nebres said that no such resolution has been lobbied by the University Student Council to their office.

Along with De Jesus are several other activists who were posted with the same allegations, such as Bicolana Gabriela Regional Coordinator Nica Ombao and Regional Chairperson Jenelyn Nagrampa Caballero.

According to De Jesus, these attacks root from the state’s fear of having people calling out their corruption.

As of writing, actions regarding the incident are being taken by De Jesus and allied organizations.

Jevan Dex Miranda is a first-year Journalism student in Bicol University. He joined The Bicol Universitarian as a writer in 2023.