VP urges dialogue over scrapped accord; says UP not the enemy

Published January 25, 2021, 10:02 AM

by Raymund Antonio

The Department of National Defense (DND) should have held a dialogue with the University of the Philippines (UP) to thresh out issues on insurgency instead of just unilaterally abrogating their longstanding agreement, Vice President Leni Robredo said.

Vice President Leni Robredo
(Photo by Charlie Villegas / OVP / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Robredo, an Economics graduate of UP Diliman, took a dig at what she called “out of nowhere” termination of the 31-year-old accord that bans security forces from UP campuses nationwide.

“Unang una, napaka-sweeping, napaka-sweeping na mag-aabrogate ka ng isang malawakang kontrata na hindi mo man lang kinausap iyong other side of the party—basta ka lang mag-aabrogate,” she said over dzXL. (First of all, this is a very sweeping move that you’ll abrogate a big contract without even talking to the other side of the party—it’s not good that you just immediately abrogate it.)

“Hindi pa naman huli para mag-usap. Pero sana hindi ganito. Iyong appeal natin, sana hindi ganito. Sana pag-usapan muna. Magkaroon ng agreement,” she said over dzXL. (It’s not too late yet to have a dialogue. Our appeal it’s not like this. I hope they will discuss it. They should have an agreement.)

The vice president explained the DND can present to UP during the dialogue if it had valid concerns rather than treating the university as an enemy of the state.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has justified the abrogation of the deal by claiming that UP campuses have become a “breeding ground” for communist rebels. 

He had previously said the termination was meant to protect UP and its community from the recruitment activities of the Communisty Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

Robredo said a militaristic approach is not the only solution to quell radicalism.

The vice president said good governance and addressing poverty will address communist insurgency instead. 

Robredo said the biggest recruiter of underground movement are those dissatisfied with the government.

“If people are dissatisfied, if they feel they aren’t being heard, they would be attracted to radical solutions, they would be enticed,” she said.