The 24-member Senate on Tuesday passed a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to welcome the decision of the Department of National Defense (DND) to answer the various calls for dialogue with the University of the Philippines (UP) on the termination of the 1989 UP-DND accord.
Sponsored by opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, proposed Resolution 616 also urges “both parties to revisit the accord and to further urge DND to hold dialogues with other academic institutions to find a common ground that promotes the rule of law, peace and security, and protects academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence.”
In his speech, Pangilinan said: “Academic freedom which includes the freedom to think, speak, move and even dissent critically, is a freedom that everyone is entitled to; a freedom that UP allowed its students, activists or not, and a freedom that everyone must enjoy.”
“We hope this resolution will inspire an open and transparent, as well as participatory and inclusive dialogue among all parties,” Pangilinan added.
All senators physically and virtually present during the plenary session voted for the adoption of the measure except for Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa who abstained because he said he supports the abrogation of the 1989 agreement between UP and DND.
Dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, said “such move is intended to protect the youth from the snares of communism and its empty promises.”
The accord, which was signed after the arrest of Philippine Collegian staffer Donato Continente by the military and police at Vinzons Hall, prohibits the military or the police from entering the premises of any of the UP campuses except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency, upon the request of UP officials, or ordinary transit through UP premises.
In a letter dated January15, 2021, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana infomed UP President Danilo Concepcion of the abrogation by DND of the agreement signed on June 30, 1989 by then DND Secretary Fidel V. Ramos and then UP President Jose V. Abueva.
Concepcion expressed grave concern over this abrogation and asked Lorenzana to reconsider and revoke the abrogation and requested further for a meeting to discuss his concerns “in the shared spirit of peace, justice, and the pursuit of excellence.”
According to reports, Lorenzana has reached out to Concepcion for a dialogue on the termination of the 1989 agreement.