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AFP to monitor UP groups for âterroristicâ activities
The University of the Philippines community gathers at Quezon Hall on January 19, 2020, to protest the termination of the 1989 UP-DND Accord which bars state forces from entering the school’s campuses.
Released/ The Philippine Collegian

AFP to monitor UP groups for ‘terroristic’ activities

Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — State forces will monitor the activities of organizations inside the University of the Philippines following the abrogation of the 1989 accord between UP and the Department of National Defense (DND), according to a military official.

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade the other night said in an interview on One News’ “The Chiefs” that the military would monitor the activities of organizations within the UP system, alleging that the campus has been the “center of gravity” for the recruitment of young cadres for the communist New People’s Army (NPA) through front organizations.

“Let’s just stick to the monitoring, we have been doing monitoring functions as part of our mandate. That is part of the job of the security sector,” said the chief of the Southern Luzon Command and spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Parlade said state enforcers can also apply the new Anti-Terrorism Act against organizations believed to be conducting illegal activities inside classrooms and halls of UP. The military official also mentioned that actual military operations inside UP are still up for discussion, but said that they will not conduct patrols inside campus.

“Whatever we decide definitely is to perform our functions properly. Coordination with UP, there’s no problem as long as” no one’s hiding anything,” he added.

AFP to work with UP

For his part, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay hoped for better collaboration between UP and the state following the abrogation of the 1989 pact.

“We are confident that that voiding of the agreement will bring about an opportunity. As a way forward, we will pursue a more collaborative relationship between UP – and other universities for that matter – to usher a rebirth of schools and state universities that are bastions of genuine patriotism and not of misguided activism,” Gapay said in a statement.

Likewise, Sen. Bong Go defended Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s decision to junk the 1989 agreement, noting the move was to further protect the welfare of students and the community. He also urged students and youth groups to focus on their studies, finish their education and help government as Iskolar ng Bayan (state scholars).

“As for me, I respect the decision of the Secretary of National Defense. You (UP students) were not educated to overthrow the government, please study, graduate and help our government,” Go said.

Another military official claimed that academic freedom in all Northern and Central Luzon schools flourishes even without the existence of an accord.

“Most if not all of our schools and universities here in Central and Northern Luzon do not have this accord but have grown into fortresses of learning and development. Academic freedom remains and will always be advocated and safeguarded by the AFP,” Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief Lt. General Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr., who earlier offered to mediate between military and university officials, lamented that top UP leadership refused to take his offer.

“I want to make this clear. What I offered was my good office. That means, not just my physical office. I can also meet with UP president Danilo Concepcion wherever he wants to dine with me. So far, only Secretary Lorenzana (accepted my offer), I haven’t receive any comment for president Concepcion. Maybe, he is afraid to treat me outside,” Roque added, half in jest.

UP, DLSU lauded

On the other hand, the House of Representatives adopted Resolution No. 1422 commending the country’s premier university for bringing “honor and prestige” and “exemplary achievement” when it retained its position in the latest World University Rankings (WUR) released by London-based Times Higher Education (THE).

The country’s only national university, UP first entered the list in 2016 at 800+ rank, later climbing to 601st-800th in 2017, and 501st to 600th place in 2018. In 2020, it remained in the 401-500 bracket.

“UP is still among the top 500 higher education institutions in the world, retaining its place in the 401st-500th bracket that it first achieved in 2019, according to rankings released on Sept. 2, 2020,” read the resolution introduced by Quezon City 2nd district Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo and higher and technical education committee chairman Mark Go.

The resolution also recognized De La Salle University for also retaining its place in the THE ranking. DLSU first entered the list in 2018 at 801st-1,000th spot, and in 1,000+ spot in 2019.

THE rankings are based on 13 performance indicators grouped into five areas: teaching (learning environment), research (volume, income, and reputation), citations (research influence), industry income (knowledge transfer), and international outlook (staff, students, and research).— Cecille Suerte Felipe, Art Dumlao, Christina Mendez, Edu Punay

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