Militant group Anakbayan called on the president of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Wednesday to uphold the agreement between the university and the Department of National Defense (DND) that bars the presence of the police and military in its campuses.
Duterte Youth party-list Rep. Ducielle Cardema has sought to scrap the university’s accord with the Defense department. The agreement is similar to the one signed and ultimately scrapped by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana between the DND and the University of the Philippines (UP).
Joseph Mariano, the chairperson of Anakbayan PUP, called on PUP president Dr. Manuel Muhi to protect the accord that allows students and professors to protest against inequalities in the government.
He said the Duterte Youth party-list is a fake “voice of the youth” and a puppet of the Duterte administration. Critics had questioned the validity of the registration of Duterte Youth as a party-list, as well as the proclamation of Cardema as its representative.
“It is clear what the Duterte Youth wants and that is to scare the youth into submission,” Mariano said, adding that schools should be a “safe zone.”
He reiterated the importance of upholding the accord because students are experiencing red-tagging, harassment, and intimidation for speaking against the administration.
Boyet de Mesa, a professor at PUP, said that the threat to scrap the PUP-DND agreement has a “chilling effect” on the students and faculty.
Human rights group Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is “(outrightly) red-tagging an entire university” with his unilateral abrogation of the UP-DND accord.
She added the threats and harassment of the UP community, including its alumni, is a “perilous and brazen affront to the exercise of academic freedom and democratic rights as well as the safety and security of the university’s members.”
The group explained the scrapping of the agreement is another indication of the administration’s “intolerance of critical thinking and political dissent.”
Lorenzana had earlier said that UP has been a “safe haven for enemies of the state” because of the UP-DND accord that disallows members of the police and military to conduct operations inside the campuses without prior warning to the university’s president and chancellor.
The Defense chief also said that the pact, which was signed in the aftermath of the Marcos dictatorship, has become obsolete.