Veteran solons on Monday slammed government’s decision to unilaterally terminate the 1989 UP-DND agreement even as they appealed for reconsideration from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Reps. Edcel Lagman (Independent, Albay); Michael Defensor (Anakalusugan Partylist) and Ruffy Biazon (PDP-Laban, Muntinlupa City) joined various sectors in defending the pact that made it mandatory for military and other state security forces to notify the University of the Philippines administration before conducting operations within its campuses.
“The repressive policies of the Duterte administration have gone berserk as it is now open season for the military invasion of UP campuses,” said Lagman.
He warned that the abrogation of the 1989 accord ”red-tags the entire UP constituencies nationwide” that will include UP campuses in Diliman, Quezon City; Manila, Los Banos, Visayas, Baguio, San Fernando, Tacloban, Ming-ao and Cebu.
“It is fraught with emerging violations of academic freedom, civil liberties, and fundamental rights protected and enshrined in the Constitution,” Lagman said.
A product of the state university, Defensor aired hopes that Lorenzana “will find the wisdom” to recall his sudden revocation of the 32-year-old accord that prevented soldiers from freely entering any of the campuses of the UP.
“We are hoping that Camp Aguinaldo will come to realize that it just created a problem where there used to be none. UP does not need any protection from the military,” Defensor.
He stated: “Any unwanted military presence in UP, or in any higher institution of learning for that matter, is bound to constitute an invasion of academic freedom.”
Biazon, vice chairman of the House Committee on National Defense, said that instead of trying to reach out to the youth in the UP community, the unilateral termination of the agreement will only work in further triggering animosity.
“The irony is that instead of “protecting and securing the institution and youth against the enemies of the Filipino people,” it will provide a basis for the Armed Forces and Police to be seen as the enemy of the institution and the youth,” said Biazon in a statement.
He added: ‘Without actually occupying the campuses, the termination will give a sense of academic freedom being under siege.”
Biazon urged the DND to consider the conduct of a dialogue with the UP leadership and community “to come to terms to a joint approach in countering the recruitment of the youth to the armed struggle, while at the same time maintaining the university as a haven for academic freedom, critical thinking, and ideological debate.”