A teacher’s group has called on President Duterte to honor the 1989 agreement abrogated by the Department of National Defense (DND) prohibiting state forces from entering the University of the Philippines (UP) without prior notice.
“We urge the Duterte regime to honor these accords and stop all the attacks on academic freedom. We protest the intrusion of state forces into our schools and all attempts to militarize the contents of education,” Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the group said that not only does the President “prioritize war over education; worse, it is also hell-bent in bringing its abhorrent war into our schools, our supposed safe and peaceful spaces for learning and knowledge production.”
“The Department of National Defense’s unilateral termination of the 1989 UP-DND Accord aims to turn the UP campuses into war theaters of its counter-insurgency operations. It arrogantly imposes military authority over a civilian educational institution that thrives on academic freedom to perform its duty as the National University,” ACT said.
“This is but a new addition to the Duterte regime’s long list of high-handed acts to intrude in schools, intervene in education, and attack academic freedom, all in the pretext of combating communist armed insurgency,” it added.
ACT recalled that since 2017, the current administration has closed down 176 lumad community schools. In 2019, former police chief and current senator Ronald dela Rosa tried to “set the stage for police and military entry to schools through a red-tagging Senate committee hearing.”
ACT said that inside the classroom, the students are not forced to a specific way of thinking, but are encouraged to form their own evidence-based arguments and opinions to show what they have learned.
“Colleges and universities are an arena for the battle of ideas where minds meet, and not a place (where) brutal force prevails. Our schools are no(t) place(s) for war, and our education is not a platform for militaristic pacification,” ACT said.
ACT explained that “liberal education does not make rebels out of students. What it does is produce critically-minded, vigilant citizens that befits a democracy—the kind that stands and guards against corruption, tyranny, exploitation, injustice and all ills that impede the advancement of society and consign people to abject suffering.”
“The 1989 UP-DND Accord, the 1982 Soto-Enrile Accord, and the UP-DILG Accord in 1992 are agreements won by UP and Filipino students and academics in their relentless push back against military and police presence in schools, in the name of defending our intrinsic right to academic freedom,” ACT said.