UP community affirms stand vs. abrogation of accord with DND; deplores continuous Red-tagging of alumni, faculty, officials

Published January 26, 2021, 4:30 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The University of the Philippine (UP) community reiterated its stand against the abrogation of the agreement barring state forces from entering its campuses without notifying school officials, as well as deplored the continuous Red-tagging of its members.

In a statement read during a press conference on Tuesday, the UP Diliman executive committee said the DND’s decision to terminate its more than three-decade-old pact with the university is an “utter disregard for mutuality and respect, two principles which the Accord embodies.”

Last week, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that he had sent a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion informing the latter that the 1989 agreement had been revoked by the DND. 

Lorenzana said the agreement only serves as a hindrance to government forces who cannot conduct anti-communist operations inside the campuses.

This move was criticized by the UP community, progressive groups, as well as government officials who claimed that the abrogation of the pact translates to discouraging dissent among the youth.

“Secretary Lorenzana’s claim that the Accord is obsolete is an assertion that academic freedom, on which the accord is based, has no more place in a higher institution of learning. How is this possible? The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines states that ‘academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning’,” the committee said.

“Academic freedom allows the faculty, students, and staff to engage in intellectual debate, challenge ideas, and express one’s self without fear of being silenced. The philosophical, political, or even religious beliefs of any member of the community cannot be imposed on others,” they added.

The committee, which was chaired by UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo, emphasized that there is a need to uphold academic freedom in ordert to “maintain academic excellence as our commitment and service to the nation.”

They also urged other members of the UP community including students, faculty, staff, and alumni to voice out their opposition to this latest “attack” against the state university.

Red-tagging persists

The executive committee added that the DND’s decision to terminate its pact with UP also resulted in the continuing red-tagging of its colleges, offices, and student organizations.

This was after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in a now deleted social media post, enumerated students and alumni of UP which they said are members of the New People’s Army.

The AFP has issued an apology after several UP alumni slammed the post and the inaccurate photo which they said stirred misinformation to the public. It added that they are now conducting an internal investigation on how the list was published.

Nemenzo earlier condemned this accusation of the AFP, adding that those included in the list are distinguished alumni of the University who have become outstanding professionals in their fields.

“It is unthinkable that despite the millions of taxpayers’ money poured into military intelligence, the AFP is making such baseless accusations,” Nemenzo said.

Despite the apology and the taking down of the list, Nemenzo maintained that “damage has been done” and that AFP has put at risk the lives of responsible citizens who are “actively contributing to nation-building in their chosen professions.”

“We are concerned that the AFP may be harboring a database of a much longer list of UP students across many years, wrongly and similarly accused as NPA like these student leaders who were our students some forty years ago,” he added.

With this, the entire University community urged anew Lorenzana, as well as the AFP to restore the 1989 UP-DND Agreement and held a dialogue with parties concerned to ensure that its campuses are free from acts of violence, coercion, and terrorism.