Following the Department of National Defense’s (DND) unilateral termination of the decades-old 1989 University of the Philippines (UP)-DND Accord on 15 January, another university is also under threat of losing its own agreement of mutual respect with the agency.
Duterte Youth Partylist Rep. Ducielle Cardema, in a statement, said the PUP (Polytechnic University of the Philippines)-DND Accord, patterned after the UP-DND agreement, should likewise be abrogated to stop the “special treatment” of the two universities.
“These accords are clear that special treatment was abused. If there are 400 plus SUC (state universities and colleges), they are peaceful even without an accord,” Cardema said.
The Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges only has 102 member-schools.
The PUP community condemned Cardema’s proposition, with students and faculty staging a protest rally in front of the university hours after she released her statement.
The PUP student regent (PUP-OSR) and Central Student Council, meanwhile, stormed the office of the Duterte Youth partylist on 20 January to submit their strong position to the impending termination of the accord.
A position paper was also forwarded to other members of the House and to the DND in support of the House and Senate Resolutions opposing the termination of the accords and upholding the academic freedom of all educational institutions.
“The real special treatment was given to the partylist which the Comelec (Commission on Elections) allowed to clinch a congressional seat despite its violations on registration and age-limit of its representatives”, the Student Regent said referring to the Duterte Youth.
PUP president Manuel Muhi is yet to release an official stand regarding the issue.
Signed by former PUP president Nemesio Prudente and former defense secretary Fidel V. Ramos in 1990, the PUP-DND Accord — similar to the pact with UP — bars the police and military to enter the university premises without prior notification except in “cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency.”
Both agreements also stipulate that the state security forces “shall not interfere with peaceful protest actions” in the university campuses as the government respects them as a place of activism.
Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana, however, admitted to not having seen the PUP-DND Accord.
AFP supports DND
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, expressed strong support to the DND’s move to scrap its more than 30-year accord with UP claiming the agreement is unfair to the Filipino people and runs contrary to the public interest.
It added that the termination of the said accord does not violate the Constitution or any substantive laws of the land.
“On the contrary, the termination rectifies what we believe was in fact infringement of our Constitution. It’s high time that we put an end to a deal that has been taken advantage of by the CPP-NPA in perpetuating their deceptive recruitment. It’s high time that we put an end to a deal which has been taken advantage of by the CPP- NPA in perpetuating their deceptive recruitment,” AFP Chief Gilbert Gapay said in a Facebook post.
He reiterated that the abrogation is not an attack on academic freedom and said that the focus should be on the fact that “UP is one of the rich sources of NPA recruits”.
The military chief said that per records, at least 18 UP students who were recruited by the Maoist group perished in skirmishes with government security forces.
Lorenzana open to dialogue
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, on the other hand, disclosed during his televised briefing that Lorenzana has expressed his willingness to discuss the deal’s abrogation with UP President Danilo Concepcion.
Roque, a UP alumnus and a former UP professor, has previously offered his office to facilitate the discussion between the two parties should they need assistance on the “proper course of action” to resolve issues surrounding the pact.
The Philippine National Police, meanwhile, assured the public that it will not meddle with the affairs of the university in case they will conduct police operations inside its campuses after the abrogation.
The reason for this, PNP Chief Debold Sinas said, is because the Department of the Interior and Local Government and PNP also has a similar agreement with UP during the time of then-Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan.