January 21, 2021
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed support for the abrogation of the 1989 agreement between the Department of National Defense (DND) and the University of the Philippines (UP).
“We find this agreement unfair to the Filipino people and runs contrary to public interest. Thus, the termination of the said accord does not violate the Constitution or any substantive laws of the land. On the contrary, the termination rectifies what we believe was in fact infringement of our Constitution," said AFP chief General Gilbert Gapay.
"It’s high time that we put an end to a deal which has been taken advantage of by the CPP- NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) in perpetuating their deceptive recruitment," he said.
“We cannot remain bound by an agreement that dictates that we have to seek permission before we can enter UP campuses. We should not be tied to a covenant that requires prior notice before we can effect arrests or searches even if the courts have issued the warrants," he added.
Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said "the fact that only UP enjoys such privileges under the voided agreement violates the equal protection clause under the Constitution."
"There is no substantial distinction between UP and other schools, state colleges, and universities. To give to UP such entitlement places it an unfairly advantaged status over the academic institutions and defies that Constitutional guarantee of equality of rights and protection under our laws," he said.
Arevalo also reiterates that the "academic freedom is not lost by the abrogation of the agreement."
"The AFP will not interfere on UP’s liberty to choose who may teach, what can be taught, the manner with which it will be taught or who may study in UP. That academic freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution, it does not require enabling laws or any other agreements certainly not from the voided agreement," he said
Despite the termination of the DND-UP agreement, Gapay assures that the military will "pursue a more collaborative relationship" with the UP and other schools and universities.
“We are confident however that the voiding of the agreement will bring about an opportunity. As a way forward, we will pursue a more collaborative relationship between UP and other universities for that matter to usher the rebirth of schools and state universities that are bastions of genuine patriotism and not of misguided activism," he said. Robina Asido/DMS
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