House probe on termination of DND-UP accord sought

House probe on termination of DND-UP accord sought

MANILA – A resolution seeking a congressional inquiry on the unilateral abrogation by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense-University of the Philippines (DND-UP) Agreement of 1989 has been filed at the House of Representatives.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman led the filing on Tuesday of House Resolution No. 1490 urging the House Committee on Human Rights to immediately conduct an inquiry on the unilateral termination of the accord, which protects and upholds the autonomy and academic freedom of UP from military and police operations without prior notification to and coordination with concerned UP officials.

Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte, Iloilo Rep. Lorenz Defensor, and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate co-authored the said resolution.

Lagman argued that the unilateral termination of the agreement by the DND without prior consultation with and conformity of UP officials is “illegal and void ab initio” because the accord was entered into bilaterally and mutually, and could not be extinguished by one party alone.

He added that the one-sided termination “opens the floodgates for military and police incursions into UP campuses nationwide under the guise of protecting national security and maintaining peace and order.”

“While Lorenzana claims that UP campuses are hotbeds for recruitment of students for membership to the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army), the fact is there are no students now on UP campuses to be purportedly recruited because there are no face-to-face classes and only online classes are ongoing,” Lagman said.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva filed a bill institutionalizing the essence of the agreement between the UP and state forces to uphold academic freedom.

Senate Bill 2002 seeks to amend Republic Act 9500 or the UP Charter Act of 2008 to require prior notification on the entry of police and military units in all UP campuses

“Except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency… no member of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), the PNP (Philippine National Police), or other law enforcement agencies shall enter the premises of any of the UP campuses or regional units,” the bill said.

Lorenzana welcomed UP President Danilo Concepcion and some senators’ call for a dialogue regarding the termination of the 1989 agreement that prohibits state forces from entering the university campuses sans prior notice.

Earlier, Senator Francis Pangilinan and several others filed a resolution “expressing the Senate’s sense to oppose” the scrapping of the accord.

“I am open to dialogue with them. I appreciate the intercession of a lot of well-meaning people like members of the Senate who passed a resolution for us to dialogue. Also, Secretary (Harry) Roque has offered his office for a dialogue between me and (UP president) Danilo Concepcion,” Lorenzana said.

He dismissed reports claiming that by terminating the agreement with UP, the government is providing a basis for the public to see the military and police as enemies.

“How can that be, you know of all the campuses in the Philippines, ang dami namang universities dito, nandyan ‘yung (there are a lot of universities here, there is) Ateneo, La Salle, San Beda, wala naman silang ganyang (they don’t have that kind of) agreement. (and yet) why do they (still exist), the freedom of expression is there, the freedom of academic, academic freedom is there, lahat ng (all) freedom they enjoy, so how come that they will equate the abrogation of this contract na minilitarize namin ‘yung UP (that we are militarizing UP),” he added.

Lorenzana clarified that they have nothing against the state university and that the abrogation of the agreement was not an attack against the school or its alumni.

“I have nothing against UP, we (only) want to protect UP and its students,” Lorenzana said. (PNA)

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