Duterte not consulted on scrapping UP-DND pact â Palace
In this Feb. 4, 2020 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte greets Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana prior to the start of the 46th Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace.
Presidential Photo/Ace Morandante

Duterte not consulted on scrapping UP-DND pact — Palace

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - January 20, 2021 - 6:46pm

MANILA, Philippines —  President Rodrigo  Duterte was not consulted on the defense department's decision to scrap a 1989 agreement that barred the uncoordinated entry of security forces inside University of the Philippines (UP) campuses but is supportive of the agency's move, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Roque said all actions of Duterte's alter egos, including those of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, are also acts of the president. 

"As far as I know, he did not. So it was a decision of the DND (Department of National Defense) as privy or a party to that contract between UP and DND," the Palace spokesman told CNN Philippines. 

"Under the doctrine of qualified political agency, unless revoked by the president, acts of his alter egos are valid and acts of the president as well," he added. 

Roque, an alumnus and former professor of UP, said the abrogation of the agreement was not a "presidential decision" but his office is ready to facilitate a discussion between defense and university officials. 

"I said I will offer my good office... an offer to be involved in the discussion hoping that the matter can be resolved by the parties ‘no. (I) offer my good office so that the UP President and the Secretary of National Defense can discuss this matter," Roque said.   

Panelo: UP to remain citadel of freedom

Signed by former president Fidel Ramos, who was then defense secretary, and then UP president Jose Abueva, the 1989 accord required the police to secure prior notification from university officials before conducting operations inside UP campuses except during emergencies or when in hot pursuit. 

Lorenzana has unilaterally abrogated the agreement, citing what he called the “ongoing clandestine recruitment” of the Communist Party of the Philippines inside UP campuses. Various sectors have assailed the DND's decision, saying it threatens academic freedom and could pave the way to more red-baiting. UP president Danilo Concepcion has asked the DND to revoke the abrogation and has requested for a meeting to discuss the matter. 

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the termination of the agreement does not violate academic freedom because UP would continue to be the sole authority of what courses to teach, how they would be taught, and who would teach them. 

"The freedom of expression and of speech is not abridged. Nor is the right to peaceably assemble prohibited. Neither does the abrogation proscribe or stop the faculty and students of UP from thinking freely on any subject," Panelo said in a statement. 

"With or without the DND-UP accord, and governments will come and go, UP will always be a citadel of freedom," he added. 

Panelo argued that the accord cannot supplant the 1987 Constitution and existing laws. 

"While parties in a contract can stipulate terms and conditions as they deem mutually acceptable, the same can not - and must not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy. That legal principle is basic," Panelo said. 

"National security requires that the law enforcement and the military, as enforcers of law and the protector of the people, respectively, can not be impeded or derailed in the exercise of this constitutional duty. Logic dictates that giving prior notice to UP before conducting lawful operations and serving warrants impedes law enforcement," he added. 

Roque said the scrapping of the agreement would not stifle academic freedom, saying students did not allow anyone to interfere with the exercise of their rights during the darkest period of Martial law, which happened years before the accord was signed.  

Mutuality required?

Asked whether the DND can just terminate the 1989 agreement, Roque said: "Well, in our general laws on obligations and contracts, it really depends. If it’s supported by consideration, then it cannot be. But if there is no consideration for a contract, then it can be done." 

"Of course, a termination unilaterally comes with a caveat that when brought to court, it could be declared as null and void. But that’s the general rules of obligations and contracts," he added. 

Roque said mutuality is not required in the accord, which he described as "extraordinary." 

"Only contracts supported by consideration cannot be unilaterally terminated. Everything else, you know, if it’s bilateral, if it’s for cause, then it can be terminated. This is also an unusual contract; it’s an extraordinary contract," the Palace spokesman said.  

"It is an act of beneficence of the state in the sense that it suspends the exercise of jurisdiction in a given territory. So I don’t think mutuality is required, and I’m speaking as a lawyer," he added. 

Roque was irked when asked by CNN Philippines anchor Pinky Webb to react to UP journalism professor Danilo Arao's challenge for all alumni and faculty who are Duterte's top level officials to denounce the termination of the agreement. 

"But you know, Pinky, I have to highlight the fact that I think the question of Arao was unfair. In the first place, why am I duty-bound to follow anything that Professor Arao says? He made it appear as if it’s compulsory for me to follow him. I spent more time in UP than him....I’m even more senior academic than him ‘no. So it was not a fair question. I’m not duty-bound to follow anything that Danny Arao says," Roque said. 

"But you said, I had to follow him and if I did not do as he did, then I have no honor or excellence. Is that a fair question? That’s not," he added. 

Webb did not make such a statement during the 30-minute interview. 

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.


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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