Last night, January 18, news broke that Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had sent a letter dated January 15 to University of the Philippines (UP) President Danilo Concepcion.
The letter was a notice of termination of the 1989 UP-DND Accord that the state university has become one of the sources of recruits of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA). (Read: Women Leaders Speak Up to Duterte’s Latest Sexist Remark)
“This Department is aware that there is an ongoing clandestine recruitment inside U.P. campuses nationwide for membership in the CPP/NPA,” Lorenzana’s letter stated.
Officials and organizations of the university have since issued statements denouncing the termination of the agreement. Chancellors from the constituent campuses of UP, student organizations, students councils, and even Vice President Leni Robredo have all spoken against the DND’s move to terminate the decades-old accord.
UP Officials, VP Robredo Speak up
UP Visayas Chancellor Clement Camposano said, “Kung tatanggalin po ang mekanismong ‘yan, mayroon pong panganib sa seguridad ng ating komunidad.” He added that the dissolution of the accord that does not only jeopardize the security of the UP community but also the rights and security of the society, especially the vulnerable sectors.
Meanwhile, UP Los Baños Chancellor Jose Camacho, Jr. said that it is “an assault against the freedom of UP as an institution,” and that “UP is hallowed ground for activism and dissent, not rebellion.” (Read: 3 Times UP Was Red-Tagged and Called ‘Bayaran’ This Year)
And just this morning, UP President Danilo Concepcion has already released a letter in reply to the DND secretary. “I must express our grave concern over this abrogation, as it is totally unnecessary and unwarranted, and may result in worsening rather than improving relations between our institutions, and detract from our common desire for peace, justice, and freedom in our society,” the letter stated.
“Instead of instilling confidence in our police and military, your decision can only sow more confusion and mistrust,” President Concepcion said. He explains that this makes it all confusing as the department has not specified the actions they plan to put into place in lieu of the accord’s protection. (Read: 4 Riveting Books About the Philippines’ National Heroes)
VP Leni Robredo, an economics graduate from UP Diliman, denounced the move and said, “This is neither difficult nor an onerous rule, and five Presidents since 1989 have managed to protect both the UP community and the Republic without breaking it.”
1989 UP-DND Accord
The UP-DND Accord was signed on June 30, 1989, by then-UP President Jose Abueva and then-defense chief Fidel Ramos. Five individuals bore witness to the signing of the accord: UP Faculty Regent Francisco Nemenzo, UP Student Regent Gonzalo T. Bongolan, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Renato C. De Villa, Philippine Constabulary Commanding (now PNP) General Ramon E. Montano, and UP Diliman Chancellor Ernesto G. Tabujara.
The accord was meant to prevent military and police officers from entering any UP campus without prior notification from the university administration. They can only enter with prior consent, or if the university requests assistance, or in times of emergencies. (Read: Timeline: What Prompted Duterte’s Threat to Stop Facebook PH?)
These military and police personnel also cannot interfere with any protests, rallies, or activities that are being done on campus grounds.