House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro strongly condemned on Tuesday the unilateral termination of the 1989 agreement between the University of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense (DND) which disallowed police and military personnel from entering and conducting operations in UP campuses without prior notification.
“This is again a continuation of the intensifying crackdown of the Duterte administration against independent thinkers and those critical of its policies. The very reason why the accord was inked in the first place is the militarization of an institution where ideas are supposed to flow freely,” Zarate said in a statement.
“UP is known for its openness to ideas and debates as well as academic freedom. These are the ideals that the DND are trying to suppress by unilaterally abrogating the accord. Indeed, for fascism, academic freedom is an anathema,” he added.
He said that with the unilateral cancellation of the bilateral accord, the DND does not want the UP system to be the venue of critical thinking, even protest actions.
“As it is, the UP community, the alumni of the premier state university, along with all freedom loving Filipinos, should condemn and fight back and not let this fascist move come to pass,” Zarate said.
In a separate statement, Castro described the cancellation of the accord as “an attempt to witch hunt red-tagged critics from the UP faculty and students and neglect the historic victory of the UP community against campus militarization.”
“This is clearly an attempt to further sow fear, intensify the attacks on academic freedom, and threaten the rights of teachers and students by the Duterte administration.”
Castro lamented that the Duterte administration has already been able to conduct surveillance and threats against UP employees, faculty, and students even with the UP-DND accord. She cited, as an example, the UP Academic Employees Union in UP Iloilo which was reportedly subjected to red-tagging and threats.
She recalled that in 2018, the current administration even made up a “Red October” conspiracy of red-tagging teachers and threatening their academic freedom to witch hunt the so-called NPA recruiters in the university.
“With the cancellation of the UP-DND accord, the AFP and PNP can set up camp in the campus, surveil teachers and students,” Castro said.