QC gov't vows action vs erring cops in UP, says attempts hurting academic freedom are 'frowned upon'
Undated photo release shows the exterior of the Quezon City Hall.
Released/QC Government

QC gov't vows action vs erring cops in UP, says attempts hurting academic freedom are 'frowned upon'

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - January 26, 2021 - 6:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City local government vowed Tuesday to impose disciplinary action against any cases of abuse by police inside the University of the Philippines campus.

To recall, the Department of National Defense last week scrapped its 1989 agreement with the University of the Philippines requiring state forces to secure authorization before entering the campus. On Wednesday, January 20, just days after news broke of the agreement's termination, two trucks of military personnel visited an area in Brgy. UP Campus to, they said, inspect the AFP unit’s urban gardening projects under its Kapwa Ko Sagot Ko initiative. 

Brgy. Chairwoman Zenaida Lectura was later quoted in a Manila Bulletin article as saying that the military visit "was not coordinated with the barangay and they only passed through our office after they were refused entry."

"We did not know of their purpose and why members of the media were with them for coverage,” Lectura added. 

In a statement sent to reporters Tuesday, the Quezon City local government assured the university community of its support for academic freedom within the university, though it stopped short of mentioning the unilaterally terminated accord. 

“We pledge that disciplinary action awaits possible abusive conduct by policemen inside the UP Diliman campus. Please be reminded that we all live in a democracy where basic freedoms, including academic freedom, must be upheld,” Quezon City People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) Executive Officer Rafael Calinisan said in the statement, vowing that any abusive conduct of cops that may be done in the UP Campus will be "dealt with accordingly." 

The PLEB is the city government's court and complaint desk to hear out grievances on erring policemen. 

READ: QC to strengthen complaint body vs police, law enforcement abuse

"True learning will only happen in an environment where there is a free discourse of ideas by all members of the community. In Quezon City, academic freedom will always be protected and upheld," Mayor Joy Belmonte also said in the LGU's statement. 

QC 'surprised' by termination of UP-DND accord

Asked if the board's statement covered Ateneo de Manila University—another Quezon City-based institution baseless accused of recruiting students to the communist movement—or the Brgy. UP Campus, Calinisan said in a phone call with Philstar.com that any instances of abuse within the city would be heard out and addressed. 

"[The barangay] is part of the UP Diliman campus. Any form of abuse inside the campus is, of course, not going to be tolerated. Anywhere in Quezon City, be it the UP campus or Brgy. UP Campus, we will not tolerate police abuse," he said, though he was careful to point out that the PLEB's jurisdiction was mainly on police officers and not military personnel. 

"We don't differentiate between public and private institutions as far as academic freedom is concerned. Rest assured that residents or students, faculty and administrators of UP or any other educational institution, the People's Law Enforcement Board as there at your disposal as a check and balance against uniformed personnel," he said.

Pressed for comment on the agreement's termination, Calinisan said: "Stated positively, we promote academic freedom in Quezon City. We are surprised as to the termination of the agreement, we would like for academic freedom to flourish in the University of the Philippines."

"That being said, people in authority, especially people in authority, cannot abuse their authority over ordinary citizens in Quezon City. We will not shirk from that duty to call the attention of those in power that the basic freedoms of ordinary citizens must be upheld."

Earlier Tuesday, Sen. Francis Pangilinan filed Senate Bill No. 2016 or "An act to strengthen and uphold the freedom of teachers and students to teach, study, and pursue knowledge and research without unreasonable interference or restriction, in all state universities and colleges."

"All institutions of higher learning, especially all state universities and colleges, should be centers of free thought—environments that encourage new thoughts and tests old ones. Intellectual liberty is foundational to a democracy," the lawmaker wrote in his explanatory note. 

"Our nation's top political, legal, business, economic, civic, and scientific leaders, both past and present, are fruits of the enjoyment of unimpeded and unrestrained academic freedom by institutions of higher learning." 


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.

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