House probe on DND-UP accord termination sought

National, News

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman led the recent filing of House Resolution No. 1490 urging the House Committee on Human Rights to immediately conduct an inquiry on the unilateral abrogation Department of National Defense-University of the Philippines (DND-UP) 1989 Agreement which protects and upholds the autonomy and academic freedom of UP from military and police operations without prior notification or coordination.

Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte, Iloilo Rep. Lorenz Defensor, and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate co-authored the said resolution. DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier unitarily terminated the accord.

Lagman said the unilateral termination of the accord by the DND without prior consultation with and conformity of UP officials is “illegal and void ab initio” because the agreement 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 pointed out.

Sen. Joel Villanueva also filed Senate Bill 2002 which aims to institutionalize the essence of the agreement between the UP and state forces to uphold academic freedom.

SB 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 the call of UP President Danilo Concepcion and some senators for a dialogue on the termination of the 1989 agreement that prohibits state forces from entering UP 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.

Lorenzana has 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.

He 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.

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