The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has lauded the passage by the House of Representatives of a bill that would institutionalize the ban on the military and the police from entering all University of the Philippines (UP) campuses without prior notice.
The agreement between UP and the Department of National Defense (DND) was signed in 1889 but it was terminated last January by the DND.
In its letter of termination, the DND cited “clandestine recruitment” of students in communist organizations and the abrogation of the accord was needed to shield young students from supposed “CPP-NPA recruitment activities.”
Enraged, UP students, faculty, and graduates slammed the government for abrogating the agreement.
Citing the passage on third reading of House Bill No. 10171, the CHR said: “This proposed piece of legislation prohibits law enforcement agencies from entering any UP campus without prior notice, and from interfering with peaceful protest actions within university premises.”
Through Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, the CHR said the unanimous vote of House members for HB 10171 sends a “strong commitment of the State to respect people’s freedom to express dissent, protest, and exercise their academic freedom.”
“The Commission reiterates its stance that suppression of guaranteed rights should never be the response to dissent under a democracy. Protests serve as a gauge on how well a government is responding to the needs of a nation,” De Guia said.
Also, CHR has echoed the sentiments of House Deputy Speaker Eddie Villanueva, one of the principal authors of the bill, that instead of discouraging the youth to participate in national discourse and suppressing their idealism, “we must draw on their ideas and engage them in finding solutions to the country’s problems, especially now that we are in the process of national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
De Guia expressed optimism that HB 10171 will be fully enacted into law soon to ensure the safety and security of the members of the UP community.