UP Board of Regents rejects resolution asserting terminated accord with DND

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
UP Board of Regents rejects resolution asserting terminated accord with DND
This undated file photo shows the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City
The STAR / file

MANILA, Philippines — The highest governing body of the University of the Philippines has rejected a resolution urging for it to assert the state-run institution's accord with the defense department that has since been terminated in a move roundly condemned.

UP's Student Regent on Thursday reported that the Board of Regents did not adopt the said resolution that would mandate it to "ensure that acts that will impede upon and violate the academic freedom, human rights and civil liberties of its constituents are not permitted," to name a few.

The move would have also the BOR declare UP as a "safe space for free though and expression, criticism and dissent" as well as support measures in Congress to legislate the pact that was signed in 1989 to keep out state forces and protect the university's autonomy from military intervention.

Instead, the body will refer the resolution to a technical working group, support efforts by UP President Danilo Concepcion to engage in talks with government, as well as affirm his statements on the accord and on the issue of red-tagging, which had been central on the DND's move as it claimed UP has become a breeding ground for the armed communist movement sans proof.

"The members of the Board have made known that they stand with the principle of academic freedom," said Student Regent Renee Co's office. "The challenge now is to translate this unity into decisive action."

Adopting the resolution would have given more weight to the cause and opposition on the abrogation, especially with all chancellors of eight UP campuses across the country endorsing it.

"In representing the interests of its constituents, the Board must protect the safety and sanctity of the university, and the rights and freedoms of the members of its community," the student regent added. "It is up to us to continue the campaign on the ground to fight in defense of academic freedom."

Being a state-run university, the body is composed of known government figures, such as Commission on Higher Education's Prospero de Vera III as its chairperson and Sen. Joel Villanueva and Rep. Mark Go (Baguio), who heads their respective chamber's committee on higher education.

Early this week, De Vera, a former UP vice president and professor, had said that the accord, while "rich in intention," stops short in details and is therefore "prone to differing interpretations."

He has since said that he will convene a panel of experts to define academic freedom and has allayed concerns on proposed legislations to institutionalize the decades-long agreement.

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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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