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Solons oppose scrapping of UP-DND agreement

ALBAY Rep. Edcel Lagman yesterday filed a House resolution urging the House committee on human rights to conduct an inquiry on the unilateral abrogation by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the 1989 UP-DND Agreement.

Quezon City Rep. Kit Belmonte, Iloilo Rep. Lorenz Defensor andf Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate are co-authors of House Resolution Np. 1490.

The solons expressed their objection to the decision of the DND to cancel the accord with the University of the Philippines on the entry and operation of the military and the police in the campuses.

Lagman said the cancelled accord protects and upholds the autonomy and academic freedom of the University of the Philippines and its component constituencies from military and police operations without prior notification to and coordination with concerned UP officials.

The solon also underscored that “the unilateral termination of the subject agreement by the DND without prior consultation with and conformity of UP officials is illegal and void ab initio because the accord was entered into bilaterally and mutually, and could not be extinguished by one party alone.”

Lagman added that the one-sided termination “opens the floodgates for military and police incursions into UP campuses nationwide under the guise of protecting national security and maintaining peace and order.”

“The abrupt termination red-tags the entire nationwide UP constituencies of UP Diliman, UP Manila, UP Los Baños, UP Visayas, the regional units in San Fernando, Tacloban, Ming-ao (Iloillo), Cebu, as well as UP Mindanao in Davao City and other extension units established after the execution of the accord,” Lagman said.

“While Lorenzana claims that UP campuses are hotbeds for recruitment of students for membership to the CPP-NPA, the fact is there are no students now on UP campuses to be purportedly recruited because there are no face-to-face classes and only online classes are ongoing,” he added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez urged the DND to reconsider its decision in unilaterally abrogating its agreement with the UP.

Rodriguez, an alumnus of the UP College of Law, said that the scrapping of the agreement could drive political dissenters, who are a minority in the UP community, into extremism, a prospect the DND wants to prevent in its abrogation decision and would be counterintuitive to the goals of the State.

“The unilateral decision sends a chilling effect on the exercise of the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of academic freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, which have thrived in UP. It will breed mistrust in the government and its uniformed forces,” he said.

“UP has produced trail-blazers in all fields and sectors; thus it is in the State’s interest to protect the rights of the institution, its faculty, and students whose exchange of ideas have continuously strengthened our democracy as shown in our history,” he added.

The solon asked the DND to discuss first the matter and concerns with UP officials.