UP prexy denies Bato’s claim: All campuses still off-limits to PNP, AFP
The University of the Philippines (UP) has forcefully denied Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s assertion that it granted the police and military free access to its multiple campuses, a concession that, if true, would violate a 1982 accord cherished by student activists.
“I categorically deny that I agreed to allow the military and police to enter any University of the Philippines campus or property without coordination with the UP administration and UP Police,” UP president Danilo Concepcion said in a statement issued on Wednesday night.
Dela Rosa told reporters on Tuesday that Concepcion had explicitly granted law enforcement officials access in order to stop the alleged recruitment of students by communist rebels, an issue that the former chief of the Philippine National Police had been particularly fixated on.As chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, the senator launched a high-profile inquiry in August into minors allegedly kidnapped by the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Despite some of these minors surfacing to debunk allegations that they were missing or had been indoctrinated by the NPA, the committee released a report that recommended heightened police visibility on campuses and subjecting teachers to investigations, among other controversial measures.
“UP does not consider itself above the law,” Concepcion said in his statement. “Indeed, it is keen to see the law upheld and strictly enforced, with due respect for the rights of all concerned.”
But while the state university would “continue to cooperate fully and openly with government authorities,” Concepion echoed the concerns of students, professors and human rights groups that a balance must be struck between “public safety and academic freedom.”
UP officials have said they would stick by the landmark Soto-Enrile accord from 1982, which bars the police and military from entering any of its campuses without permission, despite Dela Rosa’s repeated vilification of the agreement.
Reached by the Inquirer for comment, the UP Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs also confirmed that the university was not the source of the statistics cited by Dela Rosa this week to justify law enforcers’ entry into campuses.
The senator had said that 90 percent of UP students were “progovernment” while not more than 10 percent were communists or sympathized with NPA rebels, bemoaning how “unfair” it was that alleged leftists had been given free rein to recruit students on university grounds.
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