January 19, 2021
The Department of National Defense (DND) terminated its 31 year-old agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) which prohibits police and military from entering its campus without prior notification to university officials.
In a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion Monday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said "by reason of national security and safety of UP students this Department intends to remedy this situation by terminating or abrogating the existing agreement in order for us to perform our legal mandate of protecting our youth from CPP/NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army) activities whose design and purpose is to destroy the democracy that we have all fought for."
"In pursuit of true national peace and development it is time to terminate or abrogate the existing agreement with the end view of protecting and securing the institution and youths against the enemies of the Filipino people without sacrificing the freedom we have preserved for about 30 years since this agreement was executed," he said.
"In this respect please be notified that the DND-UP agreement executed on June 30, 1989 is nearby terminated or abrogated effective this date," Lorenzana added in a letter signed on Jan. 15, 2021.
Lorenzana said the defense department does not intend to station military or police in UP and noted that government forces are willing to reach out to the students and gain their trust.
"We do not intend to station military or police inside UP campuses nor do we wish to suppress activist groups academic freedom or freedom of expression. The Department of National Defense has nothing to gain from suppressing these rights and freedom but will only alienate it further from the people," said Lorenzana.
"Our Armed Forces and police are willing to reach out to the youth and provide them with another perspective on our nation and society. We want them to see their Armed Forces and Police as protector worthy of trust not fear," he added.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Lorenzana explained that the termination was made because the agreement is being used by the CPP/NPA to recruit UP students.
"The agreement has become obsolete. The times and circumstances have changed since the agreement was signed in 1989, three years after the martial law ended. The agreement was a gesture of courtesy accorded to UP upon the University’s request," said Lorenzana
"However, during the life of the agreement the University of the Philippines has become the breeding ground of intransigent individuals and groups whose extremist beliefs have inveigled students to join their ranks to fight against the government. The country’s premier state university has become a safe haven for enemies of the state," he said.
"The Department of National Defense will neither renege nor shirk on its duty to protect the rights of the majority. It will not tolerate those who will violate the laws of the land in the guise of lawful public dissent, free assembly and free speech. It is our sworn duty to protect the Filipino people," he added.
Lorenzana also appeal for the cooperation of the university to protect its students from extremism and armed struggle.
"I am appealing to the UP Community - let us work together to protect our students from extremism and destructive armed struggle," he said.
"The Department of National Defense only wants what is best for our youth. Let us join hands to protect and nurture our young people to become better citizens of our great nation," Lorenzana added.
He said the DND is also looking if they still have other agreements with other schools and universities similar to the deal they have with the University of the Philippines.
"We are looking into other similar agreements to terminate them as well," he said.
"We have determined that it doesn’t serve the interest of the students," he added. Robina Asido/DMS
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