Dela Rosa says cops in UP can 'build case' on NPA presence but red-tags university anyway
In this 2017 file photo, PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa orders Angeles City policemen linked to the robbery-extortion of three South Korean tourists to do pushups during his visit to Camp Tomas Pepito in Angeles, Pampanga.
The STAR/Miguel De Guzman, file

Dela Rosa says cops in UP can 'build case' on NPA presence but red-tags university anyway

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - January 24, 2021 - 12:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — Allowing the police and military into the University of the Philippines would assist them in "case buildup" against recruiters of the New People's Army, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa said Sunday in defense of the scrapping of the university's deal with the defense department.

To recall, the Department of National Defense in a letter addressed to UP President Danilo Concepcion announced that the 1989 agreement had been terminated starting Friday, January 15, per a report by the university's publication, The Philippine Collegian

Speaking in an interview aired over DZBB Super Radyo, Dela Rosa claimed the university, along with the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, were "biased" towards the Communist Party of the Philippines. 

"One of the ways to get a case build-up against NPA recruitment in UP is for the police and military to come in to gather evidence," the neophyte senator said in mixed Filipino and English. 

"They shouldn't be biased to the left just because they have militant students in the guise of academic freedom," he added. "The NPA is using the accord as a shield and is free to recruit in the campus...Why are they so allergic to the police and the military? Are they hiding something?"

RELATED: Bayan: Why is the burden on us to prove we're not a rebel front?

Though Dela Rosa admits military and police can beef up their "case buildup" through access to the university, other administration agencies and officials continue to assert the university's links to communist rebels despite the lack of evidence. 

On Friday, a Facebook page named “Armed Forces of the Philippines Information Exchange” published a list of 28 supposed UP alumni who, they claimed, went on to join the NPA and were later killed or captured by state forces.

However, at least two of the names included on the last have publicly denied being affiliated with the NPA, while another six also denied the accusations according to a fact-check by Rappler. They are also, contrary to the page's claim, not dead. 

The original post has since been taken down, but not before several other pages picked up the material and shared it themselves.

Asked about the now-scrapped content, Dela Rosa, himself a former police chief, pointed instead to the Communist Party of the Philippines, saying it could be a ploy by them to make the military look bad. 

"What we should ask is if that is a legitimate military account. Later on, we might find that it's just made by the NPA," he said in Filipino. 

Why does this matter?

  • Peaceful protest actions and demonstrations are typically held within the UP Diliman campus
  • The Commission on Human Rights, also a common site for protesters, is also within the campus' borders 
  • UP grounds have long been a safe haven for activists, as they cannot be arrested on school grounds 
  • With the agreement scrapped, police and military forces can freely enter campuses if they so desire 
  • Other activists who have been red-tagged were later found dead
  • Dela Rosa's colleagues in the Senate have admitted that the practice of red-tagging has led to violence 

with a report from The STAR/Janvic Mateo 

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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