DND wants exemption from ban on loans, grants from countries supporting probe on PH killings

Marje Pelayo   •   September 30, 2019   •   501

Philippines Secretary of National Defence Delfin Lorenzana looks on during the fifth plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 18th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) will appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to exempt the agency from the Chief Executive’s suspension of any financial assistance from 18 countries that support the call for a probe into drug-related killings under the administration’s war on drugs.

During the Senate deliberation on the DND’s proposed budget for 2020, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon opened up the said request by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Lorenzana discussed the matter with several senators, specifically the ongoing negotiation with the government of Australia regarding the procurement of patrol vessels for the Philippine Navy amounting to P30-B.

“We are currently in talks with the Australian government for them to build our six offshore patrol vessels and they are willing to finance it first,” he said.

The Defense Secretary said they are planning to send a formal appeal to the President about the matter citing such suspension of loans, aids and grants will hugely affect the ongoing modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the President is keen on reviewing the said request of the DND.

Panelo hinted that President Duterte might hear out and approve the request especially as it concerns the country’s national security. – MNP (with details from April Cenedoza)

Senate welcomes UP-DND dialogue on 1989 accord

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has adopted a resolution welcoming the decision of the Department of National Defense (DND) to seek a dialogue with the University of the Philippines (UP) on the termination of their 1989 accord, which bars the entry of state troops in UP campuses without prior coordination.

The Senate on Tuesday adopted Resolution No. 616 which urges both parties “to revisit the accord and to further urge the DND to hold dialogues with other academic institutions to find a common ground that promotes the rule of law, peace and security, and protects academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence.”

“Academic freedom which includes the freedom to think, speak, move and even dissent critically, is a freedom that everyone is entitled to; a freedom that UP allowed its students, activists or not, and a freedom that everyone must enjoy,” Senator Francis Pangilinan, author of the measure, said in a speech prior to the resolution’s adoption.

“We hope this resolution will inspire an open and transparent, as well as participatory and inclusive dialogue among all parties,” he added.

Senators physically and virtually present during the plenary session voted for the adoption of the measure except for Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa who abstained because he said he supports the abrogation of the 1989 agreement between UP and DND.

The DND earlier cited supposed information on the “clandestine recruitment” of students by communist organizations in its decision to unilaterally terminate the agreement with UP.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was open to a dialogue with UP administrations but its officials should explain the presence and deaths of some of its students in military encounters with rebels.

Lorenzana tells UP officials: Explain deaths of UP students in military ops vs NPA

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expresses the government’s willingness to negotiate over the termination of the 1989 pact with the University of the Philippines (UP) barring state forces from entering university premises.

However, the Defense chief said the University must first explain the number of students being killed in military operations against the New People’s Army (NPA).

“I am open to dialogue with them. Pero sagutin muna nila kung bakit namatay ang mga taong ito kasama ng NPA. This is a list of students of UP from all UP campuses na namatay during the encounters with the Armed Forces,” Lorenzana said referring to a list of UP students who were killed in encounters fighting by the side of the NPA.

“Explain to me bakit nangyari ito sa kanila. Why did they fail to protect this young kids enjoining this organization?” the official added.

Without an acceptable explanation from the UP officials, Lorenzana said there is no reason for dialogue.

“As a parent, I really feel sad na mamatay sila ng ganito. So explain nila iyan. If they can explain that we will talk. If not then forget it,” he added.

Lorenzana said their decision to end the UP-DND pact is not only to protect the students from being lured by the NPA but also to implement equal protection of the law.

The Defense Secretary also stressed that it was not to curtail the students’ right and freedom of expression. 

“We do not suppress legitimate dissent. This morning when you wake up nakakapag tweet kayo. You can form demonstration there. Nobody will touch you,” Lorenzana said.

“Ang ayaw namin ay itong mga nagtatago dyan at nagre-recruit ng mga bata, binibigyan ng baril at makikipaglaban against the government,” he added.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson MGen. Edgard Arevalo said he doesn’t see any violation of the law with the termination of the accord.

The Supreme Court defines academic freedom as the academic institution’s freedom to choose and accept instructors, design their own curriculum and manner of teaching, and who can enroll into the university.

“Academic freedom is enshrined in the Constitution not in this agreement,” Arevalo stressed.

The UP administration is yet to issue a statement on the issue. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Mutuality not required to end UP-DND Pact – Roque

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday expressed his belief that mutuality is not a requirement to abrogate the agreement between the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) which, for decades, has prevented state forces from entering UP campuses without prior coordination.

Roque, a UP alumnus, said the pact between the UP and DND is not a usual type of agreement.

“This is an unusual contract. It is an extraordinary contract. It is an act of beneficence of the state in the sense that it suspends the exercise of jurisdiction in a given territory. So I don’t think mutuality is required, and I’m speaking as a lawyer,” Roque said in a media interview.

The DND unilaterally terminated its decades-old agreement with UP, citing information that communist rebels are recruiting students inside UP campuses as new members.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that the deal, which was signed in 1989, is “obsolete” and that the through the years of its enforcement, the UP has become “a breeding ground” and “a safe haven for enemies of the state.”

UP President Danilo Concepcion has appealed to the DND to reconsider its decision.

In response to the UP administration’s appeal, Lorenzana said he is willing to sit down and talk but the university has to explain why its students have been among those killed in armed encounters between government forces and the New People’s Army.

Roque said he has offered his office as a venue for discussion between Lorenzana and Concepcion.

“I will offer my good office so that the UP President and the Secretary of National Defense can discuss this matter,” he said.

The UP Community has denounced the abrogation of the accord, saying this threatens academic freedom. Various groups have also expressed fears of unlawful arrests, which were earlier allayed by Lorenzana. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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