UP Diliman rejects drug ops, crime hotspot claims by police
This undated file photo shows the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City

UP Diliman rejects drug ops, crime hotspot claims by police

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - January 24, 2021 - 11:06am

MANILA, Philippines — The University of the Philippines in Diliman has disputed claims that there are drug operations inside campus as well as that it is a crime "hotspot' after a week that the defense department terminating its accord with the institution that bars entry to state forces in its grounds.

Defense and military officials have continued to insist on allegations without concrete proof that UP, which had long kept an activist reputation, is recruiting students to the armed communist movement and resulting in the abrogation of an accord that has since been widely condemned.

In a move seen to further justify the DND's termination, police on January 22 said the trend of reported non-index crimes within Barangay UP Campus, which covers seven other barangays or communities, had "remained consistent" and is therefore a crime hotspot in Quezon City.

"No [methamphetamine] or illegal drug laboratory has ever operated inside the UP Diliman campus," the university said in a media brief on Saturday. "Neither was there information or intelligence reports from the PNP or PDEA of the operation of such within our community."

The refute on drug claims followed particularly after military spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo floated the possibility of shabu laboratories operating inside UP campuses. Such remarks, however, came with no proof to support it.

UP added that drug-related cases within the community make up only between 1 to 2% of overall safety and security-related incidents. In 2020, the university said its own police tallied only 91 security cases in campus, "consisting primarily of crimes against property."

Prior to that year, UP said no drug-related cases were reported from the 247 incidents in total in 2019.

"Effectively, the number of recorded cases in campus dropped by 63 percent in 2020 from the 2019 number," the university said. "Because of the community quarantine imposed since March 2020 and the implementation of the remote learning setup and alternative work arrangements, there continues to be a visible decrease of population in UP."

UP's security office has also kept "cooperative relations" with Quezon City Police and added that it turns over suspects arrested and had even assisted the PNP before.

“[We] have been very accommodating to programs and efforts of our law enforcement agencies to totally eliminate the existence of illegal drugs inside the campus community," UP said. "We ensure that UP Diliman is still one of the safest and most peaceful campus environments in the country."

Many have questioned and criticized the DND's ending of its accord with UP signed in 1989 in an effort to protect the university's autonomy from military intervention, especially in protest rallies. It is also largely viewed to shrink spaces for expressing dissent, at a time when mass gatherings, including demonstrations, are prohibited due to the pandemic.

Lawmakers who graduated from UP joined too in the chorus of those opposed to the move, with a bill in the Senate since filed to institutionalize the pact.

The DND's move comes as the administration continues in its bid to rid the country of its insurgency problem. But such efforts had seen officials blatantly tagging activists, human rights advocates and even institutions such as UP, as linked to the CPP-NPA yet failing to prove the claims.

Those named have repeatedly denied the allegations, but often they are exposed to threats, intimidation or worse, killed, seeing the issue of "red-tagging" as exacerbating under the Duterte government.

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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