Abrogating the Department of National Defense (DND) agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) is a fulfillment of a patriotic duty even if though it’s an unpopular move, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday said.
“My intentions are pure, my goal is simple, to minimize the threat to the youth. Some of you may see this as a rash decision but the numerous testimonies and grueling experiences presented to me by former NPA rebels prompted me to issue this,” Lorenzana said in a video message posted on his Facebook account.
“I personally bore witness to the atrocities committed by the communist terrorist against our people, they prey on our children’s idealism and vulnerability even costing them their own lives. I have been fighting for this country all my life as a soldier our problem with the CPP-NPA has been with us for 52 years.”
“Help me fix this, let us talk and find a way to end this insurgency once and for all. Let us work together and move forward,” he added.
Lorenzana posted the video amid mounting protests and criticisms from UP officials, faculty members, employees and students, and critics of his decision to scrap the 32-year accord with UP that prohibits police and military presence inside its campuses. He assured that his intentions are pure and only meant to save the youth from the hands of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
In his letter sent to UP President Danilo Concepcion, Lorenzana said that the termination of the accord was meant to protect UP and its community from the recruitment activities being done by the CPP-NPA.
According to Lorenzana, the agreement is perceived to be “a hindrance in providing effective security, safety, and welfare of the students, faculty, and employees of U.P.”
The UP-DND accord which was signed in 1989 by former UP President Jose Abueva and then-Defense Secretary and former President Fidel Ramos, serves as a protection for students and faculty members who participate in activist movements.
Ready to apologize
Meanwhile, Lorenzana assured that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready to apologize to a number of UP alumni who were included in the military’s list of former students who were allegedly recruited by the NPA, some of whom were either killed or arrested.
Reports said among those seeking an apology is lawyer Rafael Aquino whose name was also allegedly included erroneously in the AFP list released last week.
Also, the UP Vanguard has offered to help for a media dialogue between UP and DND regarding the abrogation of the 1989 agreement, even asking the defense department to reconsider the agreement’s termination.
“Yes, the AFP will apologize. What reason will they give? I do not know. It’s an unpardonable gaffe…I have asked a friend to facilitate my meeting with Atty. Concepcion sometime next week,” Lorenzana said.
“I listen to advice naman, (As) I said I was open to dialogue,” he added.