PUP community decries attempt to terminate PUP-DND accord

Published January 20, 2021, 5:49 PM

by Gabriela Baron

Students across the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) decried the attempt to terminate the PUP-Department of National Defense (DND) accord signed in 1990.

Student activists from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, held a protest action in Sta. Mesa, Manila to condemn the Department of Defense’s unilateral termination of an agreement with the University of the Philippines banning the presence of military and police personnel on campuses (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Following the termination of the University of the Philippines (UP)-DND accord, Duterte Youth Partylist Rep. Ducielle Cardema on Tuesday called on DND to likewise cancel a similar agreement with PUP.

The 1990 PUP-DND Accord signed by then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos and PUP President Nemesio Prudente safeguards PUP against police and military intervention and operations inside the University’s branches and campuses.

Dangers of red-tagging

The PUP Psychology Students Association said the attempt to terminate the accord “further exposes students to the dangers of red-tagging which has already been rampant since the fruition of the Anti-Terrorism Law.” 

“The Prudente-Ramos Accord recognizes the right of all students to express freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, assembly and association. For 30 years, it has protected the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights of each member of the PUP community,” its statement read.

“Instead of threatening and purging the students of progressive universities, we are calling for the government to heed the calls of minorities who are left in the armed struggle fighting for their land, rights and lives. We believe that resistance comes from the systemic and state oppression and not forcefully indoctrinated to the minds of our students,” it further read.

Protection of students’ rights and welfare

The PUP College of Communication Student Council called on the PUP administration to condemn Cardema’s statement and to “stand firm in upholding the rights and safety of students.”

“We demand protection of students’ rights and welfare and for the administration to stay true to its duty in making the university a safe space for everyone,” it added.

Desperate move to stifle academic freedom

The PUP Campus Journalists said the Prudente-Ramos Accord has been providing the University and its stakeholders “the liberty to free expression and to peaceful assembly with utmost tolerance and guarantee, without fear of interference and suppression from the State.”

The group reiterated that the accord “guaranteed safeguards for freedom of thought, expression, association, and movement to every PUPian, both the students and employees.”

“Cardema’s call to put an end to this deal is a clear desperate move to stifle academic freedom — the very product of the long-fought battle of every student and Filipino against repression and violence, in which history can attest to,” its statement read.

“We believe that our right to education can only be totally achieved in the climate of academic freedom and institutional independence. We stand by our belief that schools should be the safe grounds for criticism and healthy discourse, in turn, have the strong power to mold active members of a democratic society,” it added.