THE Philippine National Police leadership yesterday expressed full support for the Department of National Defense’s decision to terminate its security accord with the University of the Philippines which dates back to 1989 which the government said has turned the state university into a haven of New People’s Army recruitment.
“The agreement between the DND and UP that limits police and military presence in all its campuses nationwide did not serve the best interest of public order and security in all 30 years that the accord was in effect,” said PNP chief General Debold M. Sinas in a press statement.
According to the top cop, “the PNP seeks to build stronger collaboration among stakeholders to protect campuses against criminal activities, drug syndicates, and shadowy organizations that promote and espouse Local Communist Armed Conflict against government through force and violence.”
“The PNP wishes to state that the termination of the agreement does not diminish our mandate to uphold the law at all times. Any abuse or criminal behavior committed by men in uniform shall be dealt with accordingly,” Gen. Sinas emphasized.
In a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion last January 15, DND Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said they have unilaterally terminated a 1989 agreement with the UP requiring prior notification to school officials for police and military to enter UP campuses.
The move however does not mean that security forces will be permanently stationed inside the UP campus to conduct counter-insurgency operations.
According to Sec. Lorenzana, the agreement had been a hindrance to operations against communist rebels, especially recruitment of cadres in UP whose prominent students include self-exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison.
The Defense chief said that the DND “is aware that there is indeed an ongoing clandestine recruitment inside UP campuses nationwide by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA) which both have been declared as terrorist organizations by the Anti-Terrorism Council created by the new anti-terror law.
The top security official also explained that recent events showed that “a number of UP students have been identified as CPP-NPA and some of them were killed during military and police operations” although he did not name names.
Lorenzana added that the 1989 DND-UP agreement is being used by the NPA movement and their supporters to prevent law enforcers from operating against them in UP campuses.
This prompted the defense establishment to abrogate the agreement “to perform our legal mandate of protecting our youth against CPP-NPA recruitment activities, whose design and purpose is to destroy the democracy we have all fought for.”
With the DND decision, police and military agents can now freely enter UP without asking clearance from the UP police and management. However, Lorenzana said that the Armed Forces does not intend to put up military or police outposts inside UP campuses “nor suppress activist groups, academic freedom and freedom of expression.”