Aug. 20 declared ‘UP day of walkout’
Decrying the imminent possibility of University of the Philippines (UP) students, faculty and officials being placed under “massive surveillance and monitoring,” UP student regent John Isaac Punzalan announced that a countrywide protest would be staged next week.
In a memorandum to the whole UP community, Punzalan declared Aug. 20 the “UP Day of Walkout and Action,” heightening the state university’s opposition to the Philippine National Police (PNP) desire to gain access to school campuses.
“Our university is currently a target of police and military intrusion,” the memorandum said. “Across campuses, the collective dissent of the members of the UP community is strongly felt as our campaign intensifies to defend our university from attacks.”
Citing the alleged threat posed by recruiters for communist rebels, Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, the PNP chief, called on Sen. Ronald dela Rosa to initiate a review of an agreement between UP and the Department of Defense.
This call was reiterated by Dela Rosa himself after a Senate hearing last week, where he presented tearful mothers who accused progressive groups of “kidnapping” their children.
The agreement known as the Soto-Enrile Accord—signed in 1982 by student leader Sonia Soto and then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile—bars the police and military from entering any UP campus without prior permission.
The revived push to gain access to schools has been met with consternation by activists, who accused the PNP of using the “Red Scare” as a tool to crack down on dissent and vocal opposition to President Duterte.
“Our academic freedom is at high risk of being taken away from us as we become vulnerable to baseless accusations, intimidation and harassment,” Punzalan told the UP community.
“Campus militarization is equivalent to martial law in our university and we shall not let that happen,” he added. “The existing accord prohibiting these state forces to operate in our campuses is a product of the student movement that has fearlessly fought for the rights of the youth and the people.”
Earlier, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan told the Inquirer that university officials would stand by the Soto-Enrile agreement.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.