House voids approval of UP-DND accord bill

House voids approval of UP-DND accord bill

MANILA – The House of Representatives has reconsidered its third reading approval of the bill institutionalizing the 1989 University of the Philippines (UP) -Department of National Defense (DND) accord into the UP Charter.

Cavite Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla made the motion to rescind the approval of House Bill 10171 on September 30 and it was carried by the plenary.

The lower chamber overwhelmingly approved the bill on final reading with 179 affirmative votes on September 21.

In a virtual press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Monday, Remulla noted that the passage of the bill at the House was done during the budgetary process, which was a very busy season for the chamber.

“Kapag budget na kasi ang pinag-uusapan, sabay-sabay ang hearings niyan eh sa iba-ibang hearing rooms at pagdating ng session, parang pagod na lahat (If budget is the topic, all the hearings would be synchronous at different hearing rooms. And once the session starts, everyone is tired),” he said. “So kapag magsisimula na ang plenary, abalang-abala lahat kung paano ginagawa ang mga budget (So once the plenary starts, everyone is busy about the budget).”

Remulla said he believes the legislative process for the UP-DND accord bill was rushed, and did not undergo much scrutiny and deliberations.

“Minsan iyong floor, may nangyayari na hindi dapat at ito nga ang sitwasyon naman dito (There are times that some things happen that shouldn’t happen on the floor, and this is such situation),” he said.

He said the “corrective action” was the motion to reconsider the approval of such an important measure.

The UP-DND accord, he said, is an “executive agreement that should be left alone and left to the Executive”, stressing that lawmakers should not meddle with the affairs of another branch of government.

With the motion to reconsider approved by the plenary, Remulla said the bill would be brought back to the House Rules Committee for its disposition.

“Kami [House Rules Committee] na ngayon ang magsasabi kung iyan ay mabubuhay pa o palulusutin pa rin namin (We now have the say if we will still let it live or let it through),” he said.

The bill seeks to prevent state security forces, such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), from entering and enforcing its operations in all UP campuses without prior notice to “the President or the Chancellor of the constituent university or the dean of the regional unit concerned” except “in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions or emergencies.”

It mandates university officials, whenever requested by law enforcers, to extend the necessary assistance in law enforcement within the premises of the UP campuses.

The bill shall prohibit subjecting any student, faculty member, or employee to custodial investigation without prior notice to the university president or chancellor of the constituent university or dean of the regional unit concerned.

Members of law enforcement agencies shall be prohibited from interfering with peaceful protest actions by individuals or groups within university premises.

The DND-UP Agreement, signed on June 30, 1989, prohibits the military and the police from entering all UP campuses without prior notice to its administration.

The agency decided to terminate the agreement effective Jan. 15, 2021, with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana calling the arrangement “obsolete”. (PNA)

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