The 31-year-old agreement between the Department of National Defense and the University of the Philippines barring military and police from school grounds without prior coordination with UP officials has been tossed.
Last Jan. 15, defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana told UP president Danilo Concepcion of their decision to terminate the agreement based on intelligence that communists are recruiting students within campus.
Lorenzana claimed that the deal prevented the DND from giving “effective security, safety and welfare” for students and faculty alike.
He went on to say that several UP students have been confirmed as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) and some of them had been killed during military operations, while others were caught or surrendered.
The DND claimed to also know of the “clandestine recruitment” in different UP campuses, which used the pact as a “shield”.
“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 against CPP/NPA recruitment activities whose design and purpose is to destroy the democracy we have all fought for,” said the defense minister.
Senator Panfilo Lacson supported the move, saying that UP and other universities were “hotbeds of recruitment.” In an interview, the lawmaker noted that their Senate hearing established that students from universities, not limited to UP, were indeed drafted and even killed in encounters.
Lacson also acknowledged that the deal’s unilateral scrapping would impact UP culture, characterized by independence and political involvement.
Malacañang asserted that President Rodrigo Duterte was not consulted on the matter.
“It was a decision of the DND as privy or a party to that contract between UP and DND,” said Harry Roque, the President’s spokesperson.
As an alumnus of UP as well as a former professor himself, Roque backed the termination.
This latest strike against the state university led to widespread disapproval by the public and some government officials.
Vice President Leni Robredo, also an alumnus, interpreted the move as one that is meant to “sow fear” and “silence criticism.” Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Twitter wrote: “UP has always been and will always be a citadel of freedom and democracy. No to the unilateral and arbitrary termination of the Enrile-Soto Accord. Pakiusap lang. Please don’t mess with UP.”
The accord, formed in 1989, stated that military and police troops would not be allowed into any UP premises without prior notice to the school’s administration.