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8 senators assail scrapping of UP-DND accord
Students and faculty gather at UP Diliman on January 19, 2020, to protest the DND’s decision to unilaterally abolish the UP-DND accord which bars state forces from entering campuses without coordination with school officials.
Released/ Philippine Collegian

8 senators assail scrapping of UP-DND accord

Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - January 19, 2021 - 7:23pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:56 p.m.) — Several lawmakers on Tuesday urged the Senate to oppose Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's abrogation of a decades-old agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) which bars security forces from entering its campuses without coordination.

Proposed Senate Resolution 616 expresses the "sense of the Senate" to object to the unilateral termination of the 1989 accord. It was authored by Sen. Francis Pangilinan and signed by Sens. Risa Hontiveros, Nancy Binay, Ralph Recto, Leila de Lima, Fraklin Drilon and Joel Villanueva.

Sen. Richard Gordon has since expressed his intent to be made a co-author of the resolution, Pangilinan's office said, adding that this "will be manifested on the floor once the resolution is scheduled for sponsorship." 

The senators also called on the UP and the Department of National Defense to "commence a dialogue and find common ground that promotes peace and security and protects academic freedom, and the pursuit of excellence."

Pangilinan, Drilon, Binay and Gordon are all UP System graduates. Although he did not sign the resolution, Sen. Sonny Angara earlier Tuesday released a statement urging Lorenzana to reconsider the termination of the accord.

But four other senators who graduated from UP, namely Aquilino Pimentel III, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar,  Juan Miguel Zubiri, did not sign the resolution and released no statement on the matter.

Senators: Agreement not 'moot and academic' as Lorenzana claims 

The resolution further refutes a claim by Lorenzana that the agreement has "become moot and academic," citing several instances that prove otherwise.

It reads: "in June 2020, Cebu City police, without coordinating with UP officials, arrested and violently dispersed students who were peacefully protesting the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 inside the UP Cebu campus for allegedly violating the government's ban on mass gatherings."

Senators also recalled that "in March 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, UP Manila students who initiated donation drives to help the frontliners to the Philippine General Hospital were sent death threats and accused of being members of the New People's Army."

A report from the school's student paper, The Philippine Collegian, on Monday night revealed that Lorenzana in a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion said the deal was terminated on January 15.

The defense secretary also said that there is "ongoing clandestine recruitment inside UP campuses nationwide for membership in the CPP/NPA" and that recruiters in the university were using the accord "as a shield or propaganda." UP has long denied these claims and the defense sector has failed to present substantial proof to back up its accusations.

Since the abrogation was reported on Monday, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have voiced either opposition or concern, warning against the escalation of tensions between students and the government as well as the further shrinking of democratic space.

Students and some House members also trooped to UP to protest the move, according to reports from the Philippine Collegian and Ateneo de Manila University's student publication The GUIDON.

DEFENSE SECRETARY DELFIN LORENZANA DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 12, 2021 - 4:24pm

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

February 12, 2021 - 4:24pm

The Department of National Defense says the appeal of UP Diliman's University Student Council to restore the abrogated 1989 DND-UP accord is untimely.

Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong points out that discussions between the DND and the UP on the cancellation of the pact have already started.

"Both parties have agreed to sit down again to further express their positions on the issue, and possibly come up with an acceptable deal that would balance legal considerations and moral obligations," Andolong says.

February 8, 2021 - 8:20am

A technical working group will be formed to study a 1992 security agreement between the University of the Philippines and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya says.

The agreement prohibits the police to operate on campus grounds without prior notice.

"At first I thought the men who made up the UP police were actually policemen. If these are security guards or security teams, they should be called such and regulated by the PNP. UP police force is not currently regulated by the PNP," Malaya tells ANC's "Headstart."

January 27, 2021 - 11:26am

The police and military should not be in a panel that the Commission on Higher Education says will be tasked with defining academic freedom, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan says.

The panel will be convened amid backlash against the security sector insistence on entering UP freely to conduct operations against supposed communist rebels.

"Might we ask [CHED Chair Prospero] De Vera, what qualifies the generals of the AFP and PNP as ‘education experts’ that justifies them having a role, a determining role at that, in defining academic freedom?” John Lazaro, SPARK national spokesperson, says in a statement.

“To add, why should they be included in a discussion about academic freedom, while the real stakeholders, the students, professors, and school employees are left out of the discussion?”

January 26, 2021 - 3:24pm

The Quezon City government supports academic freedom in the University of the Philippines and in other colleges and universities in the city, Mayor Joy Belmonte says in a press statement.

"I was a lecturer at the UP before, and I know how important academic freedom is in an educational institution.  True learning will only happen in an environment where there is a free discourse of ideas by all members of the community," she says.

Quezon City is home to UP Diliman as well as to Ateneo de Manila University, both of which have been accused of being recruitment grounds for communist rebels. The two universities — as well as Far Eastern University, University of Santo Tomas and De La Salle University — have rejected the allegations.

"In Quezon City, academic freedom will always be protected and upheld," Belmonte also says.

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Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Philstar.com. This article was produced following editorial guidelines.

January 24, 2021 - 4:40pm

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana stands by his decision to abrogate the DND's agreement with the University of the Philippines.

"We stand by our choice to protect our youth and encourage our fellow Filipinos to help us finally end this 50-year war," Lorenzana says.

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