Defense Secretary Delfn Lorenzana and University of the Philippines (UP) President Danilo Concepcion would likely meet anytime this week to iron things out on the issue of the abrogation of the Soto-Enrile agreement.
This, as Lorenzana himself admitted that there are some people who are negotiating for him and Concepcion to sit down and discuss the issue instead of issuing separate statements in both the traditional and social media.
“I have asked a friend to facilitate my meeting with Attorney Concepcion sometime next week,” said Lorenzana.
On January 15, Lorenzana sent a letter to Concepcion informing the latter that the Department of National Defense (DND) has already cancelled its agreement with UP with regard to the access of soldiers inside UP campuses.
Based on the UP-DND accord, soldiers are not allowed to enter UP campuses without the permission of UP authorities except for ongoing pursuit operations, emergency cases and other situations stipulated in the agreement.
In the letter, Lorenzana said the reason is that UP campuses have been the recruitment hubs of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the agreement only prevented the military from protecting the students from being convinced by the rebels to take up arms against the government.
The letter caught the UP community by surprise and Concepcion himself said a dialogue is needed in order to sort things out.
Lorenzana was initially cold on the dialogue and even demanded a reason why UP students ended up killed or captured by the military in anti-NPA operations. He also posted some statements in his social media accounts to justify the abrogation of the agreement.
But on Sunday, Lorenzana appeared to have changed his mind and expressed willingness to sit down with Concepcion.
“I listen to advice, I said I was open to dialogue,” said Lorenzana when asked if he would insist on his early statement that UP should explain first the death of some of its students before any dialogue would happen.
When asked who advised him to talk to Concepcion, Lorenzana said: “A lot of people whom I respect. Let’s just keep (their identities) secret.”