UP faculty regent calls for investigation into professor's uncoordinated arrest

University of the Philippines (UP) Office of the Faculty Regent Carl Marc Ramota called for an investigation into the "serious lapses" in the protocol of the arrest of UP Professor and ex-union leader, Dr. Melania Flores.

"University of the Philippines (UP) professor and former union leader Melania Flores raises her fist during a press conference about her arrest by the CIDU-QCPD for alleged violation on remittance to the Social Security System on Monday, February 6, 2023." (Courtesy of Noel B. Pabalate)

Flores' apprehension within the UP Diliman campus had no coordination between the Philippine National Police authorities and the campus administration, thus violating the UP - Department of the Interior and Local Government Accord of 1992, the faculty confirmed on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Flores was arrested around 11 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, in her home by personnel who presented themselves as staff from the Department of Social Welfare and Development who came to give aid to her family.

The warrant of arrest stated that Flores violated the Social Security Law in relation to her house helper’s benefits.

She was brought to Camp Karingal and was released later that day after posting bail worth P72,000.

READ: UP professor, former union leader arrested inside UP campus; groups cite violation of UP-DILG Accord

"One of the provisions of the 1992 Accord stipulated that 'the service of search or arrest warrants on any UP student, faculty, employees, or invited participants in any official activity shall, as far as practicable, be done after prior notification is given the UP President, or Chancellor of the constituent university, or Dean of the regional unit concerned, or their respective officers-in-charge in the event of their absence,'" the faculty said.

Ramota added that the incident set a "dangerous precedent" in the UP community and he also urged UP officials to promote and uphold academic freedom through academic and legal resources.

"At the heart of the University is the exercise of academic freedom, and its promotion and protection must be the priority of all its administrators," he said.

"It is the University’s duty to promote and protect academic freedom amid disinformation, historical distortion, and wanton disregard of people’s rights," he continued.

(Courtesy of Noel B. Pabalate)

Ramota also mentioned that Flores' arrest and the recent Cebu abduction incident highlighted the need for joint efforts between the UP System and its constituent universities.

He is set to present the establishment of a Committee on the Promotion and Protection of Academic Freedom and Human Rights to incoming UP President Angelo A. Jimenez, who will officially sit in the office on Feb. 10.

UP Visayas Chancellor Clement C. Camposano also released a statement condemning the uncoordinated arrest.

"We firmly call on the Quezon City Police Department (QCPD) and all other police units in the country to respect the Accord, which is still in place and has not been abrogated. We also urge the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to pursue an impartial investigation to immediately address this serious violation of an agreement that is still in effect," she said.