The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) condemned on Monday the decision to terminate the 31-year-old accord signed between the Department of National Defense (DND) and the University of the Philippines (UP) in 1989, which prohibits state forces from entering the university premises without prior notice to the school administration.
In a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion dated January 15, 2021, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the DND-UP Accord “is hereby terminated or abrogated effective this date.”
The CEGP, an alliance of tertiary student publications, said Lorenzana’s letter is a “repeated witch-hunt narrative which flags the UP as a hotbed of communist recruitment.”
“The UP-DND accord is a safeguard not only for academic freedom of students and educators but a safeguard for press freedom of campus publications, the right of academic employees to organize unions and the right of youth organizations and student council formations to host activities that forge a critical sphere within the university,” the CEGP said.
The organization underscored that the termination will not only jeopardize academic freedom but the very existence of a democratic academic sphere.
The CEGP has called on campus publications and youth groups to stand firm in the fight for academic freedom.
“We stand in solidarity with the UP community in resisting the current decision of Lorenzana to terminate the UP-DND accord,” the group added.
On Monday night, Lorenzana clarified that the DND will not station military or police units inside UP campuses now that the accord has been terminated.
He said law enforcement agencies, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) “are willing to reach out to the youth” to make them realize that they are “protectors worthy of trust, not fear.”
READ MORE: Defense chief terminates 1989 pact with UP