MANILA, Philippines — An indignation rally will be held at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus on Tuesday, after the Department of National Defense (DND) scrapped an agreement that bars any military and police presence inside UP campuses.
Various groups — including the College Editors Guild of the Philippines and the Anakbayan chapter at UP Diliman — said on Monday night that the rally would be held at around 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday near the Quezon Hall.
“The quick response mobilization against DNDs abrogation of the UP-DND Accord is set to unite the UP community on the grounds of academic freedom and the protection of democratic spaces,” Anakbayan said.
Meanwhile, more supporters of the UP system — activist groups, faculty members, and alumni and alumnae — have voiced their dissatisfaction with the DND move.
Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero, a former senator, said that the DND was “barking at the wrong tree” when it scrapped the deal — perceived as a means of countering alleged recruitment of communist armed groups within the campus.
“As Voltaire said – ‘I may not agree with what (yo)ur saying but I will defend to the death (yo)ur right to say it.’ And as Einstein said – ‘Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.’,” Esudero, a UP alumnus, said in a tweet.
“The gov’t should learn to ‘fight the good fight’ that sets US apart from THEM! It should not bite into the bait of its enemies & take advantage of that mistake/folly. It should have more faith & confidence in the Filipino Youth to discern & that they LOVE THEIR COUNTRY!!!” he added.
UP Professor Danilo Arao, who is also a journalist, meanwhile dared UP faculty and former students who are part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to condemn the removal of the accord.
“CHALLENGE: UP faculty and alumni who are Duterte’s top-level officials should denounce Lorenzana’s letter terminating the 1989 accord. This disregards everything that UP stands for. Should they remain silent, a six-word question: Where is your honor and excellence?” Arao asked.
Etta Rosales, former Anakbayan lawmaker and former Commission on Human Rights chief, had this message for Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana: “Secretary Lorenzana, the University of the Philippines and its students need no saving. Save and protect the West Philippine Sea instead. That is where the real and present threat is.”
“If you can’t protect our seas, don’t lash out at the students and their university. #DefendUP,” she added.
The hashtag #DefendUP trended on social media after copies of Lorenzana’s letter was leaked online.
The agreement, signed in 1989 to prevent the police and military from entering UP campuses and interfering with their activities, is meant to protect students and faculty members joining activist movements.
The agreement was signed back by then UP president Jose Abueva and then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos.
But Lorenzana said in his letter that the move was based on the premise of protecting UP, as students may have been lured into joining the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
As of this writing, the hashtag #DefendUP has over 62,200 tweets.