Several students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and members of militant groups staged a rally against the possible termination of the school’s accord with the Department of Defense (DND) in front of the campus on Wednesday.
This after Duterte Youth Partylist Rep. Ducielle Cardema called on the DND to scrap the 1990 Prudente-Ramos accord that prevents members of the police and military from entering the PUP campus, saying that the state university is being given “special treatment.”
On Monday, the defense department unilaterally scrapped its 1989 agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP). Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana appeared to have red-tagged the whole institution, claiming that the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), uses the university’s campuses as recruiting grounds.
“Hindi totoong para sa kabutihan ng iskolar ng bayan ang pagbubukas ng pamantasan sa mga pulis at militar. Ito ay bahagi ng taktika ng rehimen kung saan sila’y nagtatanim ng gawa-gawang multo sa tabing ng ‘kontra-terorismo’ upang bigyang katwiran ang pag-harass, pag-aresto, at pagpatay sa non-combatants, mga aktibista, at, higit sa lahat, ng masang mulat (It is not true that opening the campus to the police and military will be good for the masses’ scholars. This is a part of a tactic to plant imaginary ghosts in the guise of ‘anti-terrorism’ to justify the harassment, arrest, and killing of non-combatants, activists, and most of all, the informed masses),” Anakbayan said in a statement.
“Sinasabi binali ang kasunduan dahil marami sa mga komunistang kadre ang mula sa UP at PUP. Ngunit ang totoo ay dahil taliwas sa kanilang pinoprotektahang interes ang pakikibaka para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa, nakabubuhay na sahod, kasiguraduhan sa empleyo, karapatan sa edukasyon, at iba pang demokratikong panawagan (They claim that they broke the agreement because a lot of communist cadres came from UP and PUP. But the truth is this is because the fight for true land reform, a livable wage, job security, academic rights, and other democratic calls are against the interests that they are protecting),” it added.
Meanwhile, the PUP Student Regent and Central Student Council President filed a position letter before Cardema’s office, urging lawmakers to oppose the termination of the UP-DND and possible termination of the PUP-DND accords.
“As legislators, we believe that the vanguard of protection not only of the students but of the general public shall emanate within the chambers of the Congress to ensure that this House will truly represent a government of the people, for the people, and by the people,” the letter read.
“We also believe that this House should not be the mere enabler of harassment to the masses, curtailment of academic freedom and a threat for a safe and secured space for critical thinking,” it added.
The PUP administration has yet to release a statement on the issue.