Lawmakers led by Rep. Edcel Lagman seek a House probe into the DND’s unilateral termination of its agreement with UP barring the entry of state forces from its campuses without coordination.
Students of the Polytechnic University worry that a similar accord covering the university will be next. A protest is scheduled Wednesday morning.
UP Cebu urges the national government, including the Department of National Defense, to rethink an revoke the cancelation of its accord with the premier state university.
Citing previous threats received by Assistant Professor Regletto Aldrich Imbong who is also president of UP Cebu All UP Academic Employees Union, the campus’ administration condenms all forms of baseless accusations and red-tagging among its constituents, faculty and students.
“The 1989 UP-DND Accord provides a safeguard for our constituents from such abuse of authority, and for promoting our rule of law. Thus, with the rest of the UP community, we in UP Cebu will staunchly defend our basic rights and will stand our ground,” UP Cebu Chancellor Liza Corro says in a statement.
Right-wing Duterte Youth party-list backs the termination of the UP-DND accord and even goes as far as calling on the DND to terminate a similar pact with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
“Itong UP-DND Accord and PUP-DND Accord ay klarong klaro na special treatment na inabuso na, sa tagal ng panahon,” Rep. Ducielle Cardema says. — report from Xave Gregorio
Citing Article XIV, Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution, the Commission on Human Rights points out that all higher institutions in the Philippines have academic freedom.
The University of the Philippines-Department of National Defense Accord provides protection to students from the presence and suppression of the police and military during protests on national issues within campus, the commission says.
“CHR insists that the safety and academic freedom of members of the UP community must be defended and protected based on the human rights principles promoted by the UP-DND Accord,” CHR says in a statement.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “is hyping up the communist bogey to justify the abrogation of the accord and mount an attack to impose the military’s power on UP, as well as other universities and academic institutions,” the Communist Party of the Philippines said as it denounced the termination of the DND-UP agreement.
“The UP-DND accord has served as a shield for university students and other sectors who wanted to express their opposition to the Anti-Terror Law, manifest their outrage over the relentless campaign of killings and campaign of suppression of the AFP and PNP, and denounce the regime’s corruption, militarist and failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” it also says.
“Defending to preserve the UP-DND accord is a fight not only of the UP community, but all the democratic sectors who oppose the tyrant’s fascist rule. In the same way, the UP community must unite with the rest of the Filipino people by standing alongside the workers, peasants and other disenfranchised sectors in their fight to advance their rights and well-being amid the pandemic and economic crisis.”
In 2018, the military floated the supposed “Red October” plot against the Duterte administration and said universities like UP were being used for the recruitment of communist rebels.
Eighteen universities and colleges were red-tagged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including the University of the Philippines in Diliman and Manila, University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University.
The supposed plot did not materialize and the military’s allegations were met with protests.
“Sa UP mayroon silang ala-Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Military can’t enter without coordination,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says on Twitter.
“What makes UP so special? Nasa Korean border ba kayo? CLOY is life na ba? We are not your enemies. We are here to protect our people, especially our youth.”
In a letter to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, UP president Danilo Concepcion expresses “grave concern” at the decision to scrap the agreement requiring the police and military to coordinate operations on campuses with the university administration.
Concepcion says the move “is totally unnecessary and unwarranted, and may result in worsening rather than improving relations between our institutions, and detract from our common desire for peace, justice, and freedom in our society.”
He says the agreement, signed in 1989, was done in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
“With few exceptions, protocols were observed and any problems or misunderstandings were amicably and reasonably resolved. The agreement never stood in the way of police and security forces conducting lawful operations within our campuses. Entry was always given when necessary to law enforcers within their mandate.”
Read the full statement here.
The government’s decision to scrap the DND-UP Accord is a cause for concern, UP Vice President for External Affairs Elena Pernia says on ANC’s “Headstart”.
“When that agreement was made some 30 years ago, there was a lot of trust in each other. Ngayon, it’s unilateral. It has caused misunderstanding, mistrust,” she says.
She says UP president Danilo Concepcion has already sent a letter to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in response to the department’s decision and to raise the university’s concerns.
“We value academic freedom. We want our students to be free to think, to study. It is in this environment that we can develop leaders that help with the nation’s development,” she also says.
The Department of National Defense has told the University of the Philippines that is is terminating an agreement that requires the police and military to coordinate with the university administration on entering or holding operations in UP campuses.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the department “is aware that there is indeed an ongoing clandestine recruitment” inside UP campuses and the accord is being used to prevent government from holding operations.
The move has been criticized widely on social media, with many saying it endangers the academic freedom and activism that UP is known for. UP campuses have also been venues for protests on national and social issues.
Photo: The UP Oblation symbolizes excellence, sacrifice and service for the common good. The STAR, file