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House OKs bill to institutionalize UP-DND accord

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House OKs bill to institutionalize UP-DND accord
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.
Philippine Collegian

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure that would institutionalize the 1989 accord between the University of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense. 

A unanimous vote by 179 members of the lower chamber brought House Bill 10171 closer to passage. A similar proposal had been filed and remains pending in the Senate. 

The Duterte administration early this year nixed the said accord with UP on unproven claims that the state-run institution is aiding the armed communist movement through recruiting its students. 

Signed in 1989, the deal barred entry of government troops to any UP campus without prior notifying school administrators. 

Critics of the move have since warned that the abrogation could harm academic freedom in the university, as well as shrink spaces for expressing dissent. 

"Our work is not done," said the Office of the UP Student Regent. "Let us continue to achieve unities and strengthen our calls."

Apart from prohibiting state forces' entry without prior notification, some of the bill's provisions include mandating university officials, when requested by law enforcers, to "extend the necessary assistance in law enforcement within the premises of the campuses."

It also disallows subjecting students, faculty members, or employees to custodial investigation without prior notice to the university president, chancellor or dean. 

The exception would be if in the presence of a counsel of choice of the student, faculty or employee, or with the counsel appointed by officials. 

Further, UP security forces would be enjoined to work with the Philippine National Police to share information and resources "to combat crime and help ensure law and order in the campuses."

In a House hearing in May, UP student leaders stressed passing the measure would be crucial, as they report some no longer feel safe within their campus. 

"There are even death threats sent to members of faculty and students through texts, through chats, and even as personal message to their own addresses," said Student Regent Renee Co. "There has been harassment, physical and verbal. There have been reports they were being surveillanced and there has also been detention."

Senators have assailed the DND's move to terminate the accord with UP. In January, 10 members of the upper chamber indicated opposition to the abrogation, less than a majority to pass the measure. — Christian Deiparine

DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
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.

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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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