By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — The agreement between the University of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense received a new lease of life after Senator Joel Villanueva has sought to integrate the provisions into the State University’s charter.
Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Higher, and Technical and Vocational Education, filed Senate Bill No. 2002 on Wednesday afternoon, seeking to incorporate the accord which the Department of National Defense unilaterally abrogated on Jan. 15.
Villanueva was joined by Senators Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, and Sonny Angara as authors of the bill.
“The UP-DND accord is not a “do-not-enter” sign that bars law enforcement from entering the campus. It is not a wall that obstructs justice or deters the solution or prevention of crime. It is unfortunate that its abrogation is being invoked for the wrong reasons. Implying that it has enabled thinking that is critical to the government is a gross misreading of UP’s role as vanguard of independent thought,” Villanueva said in the bill’s exploratory note.
“Our country is facing a number of very important issues where the resources of the military and the police can be more efficiently utilized. We have the West Philippine Sea dispute, the increasing criminality due to POGOs, and extrajudicial killings, among many others. Our law enforcement agencies and the military establishment must set its priorities straight and focus on what really matters,” continued the lawmaker, a member of the University Board of Regents.
The Villanueva bill institutionalizes the agreement reached by the university and DND officials in 1989, after a staff member of the Philippine Collegian, the official student publication of the State University was abducted, tortured, and coerced to own up to the killing of a US military officer.
The measure amends Republic Act No. 9500, the UP charter, to include a provision that would prevent the military, police, and other law enforcement agencies from entering the premises of UP campuses nationwide “except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency,” or with express permission from the university officials specified under the bill.
The bill also sets limits in the service of search or arrest warrants to “any UP student, faculty, employee, or invited participants in any university-sanctioned activity.” The service of warrants and the like “shall only be done after prior notification is given to the U.P. President, Chancellor, Dean of the regional unit, or respective officers-in-charge.”
“There is no monopoly of ideology in UP. It remains a big tent that shelters all ideas that can be pursued nonviolently. It is not a rebel recruitment station. On the contrary, it hosts many DDS who are free to compete in the marketplace of ideas,” Villanueva said. “It remains a citadel of excellence where the skills to serve the people are taught. This academic brilliance can only shine under a climate of freedom.”
“Let us nurture our youth’s passion for political and social causes and prevent any attempt to take away these long-cherished values. It is our hope that this proposed measure will continue to foster these traditions of the country’s premier state university,” Villanueva said. (AI/MTVN)