January 20, 2021
President Rodrigo Duterte was not consulted when Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana decided to unilaterally terminate an agreement with the University of the Philippines not to allow security forces inside its campuses without prior notice.
"As far as I know, he did not. So, it was a decision of the DND (Department of National Defense) as privy or a party to that contract between UP and DND," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in an interview with CNN when asked if Lorenzana consulted Duterte on his move to end the deal with UP.
But he said Duterte backs Lorenzana's decision unless the former says otherwise.
"Under the doctrine of qualified political agency, unless revoked by the President, acts of his alter egos are valid and acts of the President as well," Roque said.
Asked if DND could just terminate the agreement unilaterally, Roque, who is a lawyer by profession, said it depends.
"If it’s supported by consideration, then it cannot be. But if there is no consideration for a contract, then it can be done. Of course, a termination unilaterally comes with a caveat that when brought to court, it could be declared as null and void. But that’s the general rules of obligations and contracts," he explained.
UP officials, students and alumni have been opposing Lorenzana's decision.
Roque, who graduated and taught in UP-College of Law, said he was ready to mediate between UP President Danilo Concepcion and Lorenzana so that they could thresh out the issue.
"Being a UP graduate and UP professor myself, I even offer my good office if they need assistance in discussing this matter," he said.
Lorenzana has said that the 1989 agreement where the police and military could not enter UP campuses without the university's permission had been a hindrance to the government's counter-insurgency operations against the communist rebels.
Duterte, in his previous speeches, had accused that UP had been a breeding ground of those joining the communist New People's Army. Celerina Monte/DMS
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