Authors urge House leadership to calendar UP-DND Accord for final reading vote

Published January 25, 2022, 8:38 PM

by Ben Rosario

Following its swift approval on second reading four months ago, the bill proposing to institutionalize the 1989 University of the Philippines-Department of National Defense Accord still has no guarantee of being enacted.

UP Diliman campus

This was gathered after the six-man Makabayan bloc lawmakers, together with Quezon City 6th District Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, sent a letter to House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez calling on the Lower House leadership to calendar House Bill 10171 for third reading consideration before Congress goes on election break on February 2.

Regular session will resume on May 22 but there will be little time left for the Lower House and the Senate to act on any pending bills as the legislative chambers will then be preparing prepare to convene into the National Board of Canvassers.

HB 10171 proposes to institutionalize the 1989 agreement between UP and the DND into the UP Charter or Republic Act 9500.

The bill proposes to prevent the unwarranted intrusion of state security forces into UP campuses in the country and protect students and campuses from possible police and military harassment and intimidation.

In a letter sent to Nograles on Tuesday, Jan. 25, the authors of the bill appealed for the immediate scheduling of the bill for third reading voting.

“We, the undersigned authors of House bill 10171 have not wavered in our calls to uphold the UP-DND Accord and institute a similar measure for all educational institutions. We remain steadfast in our commitment to stand up for human rights and defined civil liberties, most especially that of academic freedom of learning institutions across the country,” they said.

The lawmakers added: “Likewise, we call on the Committee to join the call of the authors for the 18th Congress to prioritize the passage of HB 10171.” They stressed that action of the bill is “urgent and necessary” in view of the “persistent attacks on academic freedom across the country, as evidenced by the book-purging in state universities and colleges and the unwarranted entry of state agents in campuses.”

HB 10171 was approved on second reading on Sept. 15, 2021. It was promptly passed on third and final reading on September 21, the day marking the declaration of martial law in 1972 by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The Lower House voted to reconsider the final reading approval on September 30.

The Makabayan bloc members are Reps. Sarah Jane Elago (Kabataan Partylist); France Castro (ACT Teachers Partylist) and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party). Also Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat.