DND exits deal requiring prior notice for counterinsurgency operations in UP campuses
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of National Defense (DND) has unilaterally terminated a 1989 agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) requiring prior notification to school officials for police and military to enter UP campuses, signalling an intent to deploy, but not post, state security forces for counterinsurgency operations in the state university.
In a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion dated Jan. 15, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the agreement had been a hindrance to operations against communist rebels, especially recruitment of cadres in UP.
A copy of the letter was posted at the Philippine Collegian, the official publication of UP.
Lorenzana said the DND “is aware that there is indeed an ongoing clandestine recruitment inside UP campuses nationwide” by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA). Both have been declared as terrorist organizations by the Anti-Terrorism Council created by the new anti-terror law.
Lorenzana said recent events showed that “a number of UP students have been identified as CPP-NPA, some of them were killed during military and police operations.” He did not provide specifics, though.
The 1989 DND-UP agreement was being used by communist rebels and their supporters to prevent law enforcers from operating against them in UP campuses, Lorenzana said. This prompted the defense establishment to abrogate the agreement “to perform our legal mandate of protecting our youth against CPP-NPA recruitment activities, whose design and purpose is (sic) to destroy the democracy we have all fought for.”
This means state forces can now enter UP campuses freely. The defense secretary said that the armed forces do not intend to put up military or police outposts inside UP campuses “nor suppress activist groups, academic freedom and freedom of expression.”
In a tweet, the UP Office of the Student Regent criticized the move “as an attempt to encroach on our academic freedoms and remove safe spaces from our campuses.”