UP-DND accord ‘destined to be problematic’: CHED chief

UP-DND accord ‘destined to be problematic’: CHED chief

MANILA – The accord between the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) was “destined to be problematic” because of vagueness in its provisions, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Prospero de Vera III said Thursday.

“As a faculty member of UP for close to four decades, as Vice President for 5 years and Chairman of the Board of Regents for 4 years, I assert that the implementation of the DND-UP Accord was destined to be problematic,” he said in a statement.

De Vera said there is “no clear detailed operational details” to implement the provisions of the pact.

Among others, the Joint Monitoring Group composed of UP regents and administrators, military and police officials “has not met regularly to determine compliance with the agreement, review alleged violations, determine appropriate penalties, and recommend revisions in the Accord given the changing times.”

“The DND-UP Accord is therefore rich in intention but short on details, and is therefore prone to differing interpretations,” he said.

De Vera urged the DND, the UP, and all higher education institutions to “exercise sobriety” as he called for a joint discussion among parties concerned.

Last Jan. 15, the DND unilaterally scrapped the 1989 accord that bars police and military inside UP campuses without prior notice, with Sec. Delfin Lorenzana calling the agreement “obsolete”.

UP President Danilo Concepcion, in a letter to Lorenzana dated Jan. 19, expressed regret that the accord was abrogated unilaterally without prior consultation with them.

He said the accord was “sought and secured that agreement not to evade or weaken the law, but to protect the climate of academic freedom—guaranteed by the Constitution—that makes intellectual inquiry and human and social advancement possible”.

De Vera said a panel of education experts would meet in the next few days to define the meaning of academic freedom and the role of security forces in the protection of academic freedom and the welfare of students.

“This definition and framework can hopefully be the starting point of a dialogue between the DND and UP in the coming days,” he said.

He said CHED is offering its offices to bring together not just UP and DND but all public and private HEIs to “find common ground” to protect the interest of some 3.1 million students while upholding academic freedom.

De Vera said the termination issue has been politicized, with students and their parents, faculty, alumni, and politicians castigating and engaging in name-calling of both the security sector and the UP officials.

“[T]he stakes on the lives and the future of students and schools are high. The vitriol unleashed in social media does not benefit anyone except those with a political agenda,” he said. (PNA)

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