UP community unfazed by Duterte’s ‘defunding’ threats

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2020   •   932

Photo courtesy: Philippine Collegian

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte warned to cut funding of state-owned University of the Philippines (UP) if it persists in recruiting students to join the communist group.

“Maghinto kayo ng aral. We will stop funding. Wala nang ginawa ang mga (ito) kundi mag-recruit ng mga komunista diyan. Tapos nag-aaral kayo kung gusto ninyong bira-bira ang gobyerno. Masyado namang maka-swerte kayo (Stop schooling. We will stop funding. All you do is recruit communist members. You go to school then attack the government. You’re too privileged),” the President said.

Despite this, the University of the Philippines Student Council seems unfazed and according to its council chairman Froilan Cariaga, they will push even more for the early termination of the current semester.

“Duterte’s threats to defund UP ignore the very reason UP is calling for the end of the semester,” Cariaga said in a statement.

About 234 faculty members and over 3,000 students have already signed the petition to ‘end the semester immediately,’ — a call for academic relief following the damage caused by the recent typhoons to the remote learning system in several areas in the country and the impact of the prevailing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

As for the students of the Ateneo de Manila, the President advised them to just stop schooling if they want after launching an academic strike.

Several students refused to submit any school requirements since Wednesday (November 18) in condemnation of what they claimed as the national government’s “neglectful response” to typhoon-affected communities and the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Huwag kayong pumasok (Then don’t go to school). I suggest to you, stop schooling. You wait for another typhoon and see if the help that we extend is enough to your satisfaction,” President Duterte said.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, meanwhile, said he explained to the president that the proponents of the academic strike were Ateneans and not the members of the UP community.

“He also, I think, somehow confused the proponents of this academic strike. I explained it was the Ateneo students advocating the academic strike,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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)

Duterte backs Lorenzana ending accord with UP; alumni air side

Marje Pelayo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte supports the decision of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to terminate the decades-long agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) prohibiting the entry of state forces inside its campuses without prior coordination with the school administration.

“Si Sec. Lorenzana is an alter ego of the President. Of course, the President supports the decision of Sec. Lorenzana,” Roque said.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the government welcomes any appeal to reconsider the decision. However, it will depend on how UP President Danilo Concepcion justifies the matter.

Meanwhile, a group of students in UP Diliman campus staged an indignation rally on Tuesday (January 19) to condemn the Department of National Defense’s (DND) decision to end the accord.

Among those who joined the protest were members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, students and members of AnakBayan.

The group claims such a decision is a clear suppression of their rights and freedom.

“Nangangamba po kami kapag na-abrogate itong UP DND Accord ay mas mawala ang proteksyon ng aming campus para pasukin ng mga militar at pulis at magkaroon sila ng mga operasyon sa loob, at siguro arestuhin kung anuman gawin nila sa aming mga estudyante sa loob,” said UP student Vincent Empal.

“Nandoon nga po ang pagtutol dahil siempre gusto po natin ng espasyo na malaya tayong makipagtalakayan, malaya tayong mag manifest ng ating kritisismo,” said Esmer Dansel, also a UP student.

Meanwhile, UP Diliman student Council Chairperson Froilan Cariaga claims many times that the state forces did violate the provisions of the accord such as the arrest of 8 students in UP-Cebu while in a demonstration inside campus.

Some alumni also expressed their side on the issue.

Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero said the DND is ‘barking at the wrong tree’ with its decision and that the government should learn to ‘fight a good fight.’

Former UP professor Danilo Arao, for his part, challenged his fellow alumni and colleagues who are members of the Duterte Administration to condemn the termination of the agreement.

Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, slammed the DND for unilaterally terminating the 1989 agreement and claimed it was meant to “sow fear” and “silence criticism.

“Clearly, then, this is not a practical gesture, but a symbolic one. One designed to sow fear. One designed to discourage dissent. One designed to silence criticism,” Robredo said.

Despite the outrage, Lorenzana maintains that the decision to end the UP-DND accord of 1989 aims to carry out the state security forces’ mandate of protecting UP students and the general public from the influence of the ‘enemies of the state’ particularly the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Lacson advises DND, UP to set boundaries after pact abrogation

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday advised the Department of National Defense (DND) and University of the Philippines (UP) administration to come up with an agreement on boundaries to be observed following the termination of the 1989 deal banning the entry of state troops without prior coordination.

In a statement, Lacson said this is to “prevent the move from negatively affecting the culture of academic freedom in the state university.”

“Once the pact is terminated, what will the security sector do? We don’t know that yet. Probably they could come to an agreement that there are boundaries to be observed,” Lacson said.

He also warned the security sector that it might be “overstepping its bounds if the move is designed to muzzle the academic and other freedoms enjoyed by the UP community.”

“If it is designed to muzzle the academic and other freedoms being enjoyed by UP in general, you can describe it as that — overstepping,” he said.

The Department of National Defense unilaterally ended the 31-year-old agreement with UP, citing information that the New People’s Army is recruiting students inside UP campuses.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana explained that the deal is ‘obsolete’ and that UP has become “a breeding ground” and “a safe haven for enemies of the state.”

Lacson noted that during the Senate hearings on red-tagging, it was established that students are being recruited to the NPA not only inside UP but in other universities, to the point they are being killed in encounters.

For Lacson, a former police chief and current chair of the Senate committee on national defense, the DND’s move made sense as universities such as UP and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines have become a “hotbed of recruitment.”

“To join the militant organizations, that’s fine. You can protest all you want. But when you bear arms against government and you are very young, you are vulnerable, you are easily radicalized, and the hotbed of recruitment would be UP, PUP and other universities, then I think the security sector has studied all the factors involved before they acted on the matter,” he said.

But he added the termination of the pact will affect the culture of academic freedom in UP, whose community is known to be independent and involved in political issues.

“UP is known to be independent and they are involved in so many political issues. They enjoy so much freedom. And then all of a sudden you take it away from them, that really hurts,” he said.

“Definitely there will be outcry, protests and disagreements. Let’s see how it shapes up in the future,” he added.

Lorenzana earlier called on the UP community to “work together to protect our students from extremism and destructive armed struggle.”

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