‘Hotbed of recruitment’: Lacson backs termination of UP-DND accord
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson sees some sense to the move of the Duterte administration to scrap an agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) on military and police presence in its campuses, saying UP and other universities have become the “hotbed of recruitment.”
“There’s sense in the… move taken by the President and [Defense] Sec. [Delfin] Lorenzana because during our red-tagging hearings in the Senate, it was established that —not only UP in particular— other universities, talagang ‘yung recruitment nanggagaling dun sa mga estudyante up to the point that they’re being killed in encounters,” Lacson said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
The senator, who chairs the Senate national defense committee, surmised that the government’s security sector considered all factors involved before they decided to scrap the agreement.
“Sila yung masyadong na-radicalized to join the [New People’s Army]. To join the militant organizations, that’s fine because you can protest all you want,” he said.
“But when you bear arms against the government and you’re very young, you’re vulnerable and you’re 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 added.
Lacson, nevertheless, admitted that the unilateral scrapping of the agreement would affect the culture of UP, which he noted is known to be independent and involved “in so many political issues.”
“They enjoy so much freedom and then all of a sudden, you’ll take it away from them, that really hurts,” the senator said.
“And definitely, outright, there would be protests and disagreements. Let’s see how it shapes out in the future,” he added.
Asked if DND’s move to terminate the pact with UP oversteps the boundaries of the university’s academic freedom, Lacson said it is still unknown how the security sector would implement the termination of the agreement.
“We don’t know how they will implement once terminated, how they would implement the termination or how deep would they infiltrate the UP campus or campuses, we don’t know that yet,” he said.
“If it’s, you know, designed to really muzzle the academic freedom and other freedoms being enjoyed by UP in general then you could describe it as that, overstepping,” he added.
On Monday, the Department of National Defense (DND) unilaterally terminated a 1989 agreement UP that would require prior notification to school officials for police and military to enter UP campuses, signaling an intent to deploy, but not post, state security forces for counterinsurgency operations in the state university.
The DND’s unilateral termination of the agreement it has with UP has been met with widespread condemnation.
Vice President Leni Robredo, a UP alumna, believes the move of the Duterte administration’s security cluster was meant to “sow fear” and “silence criticism.”
Senator Francis Pangilinan also voiced his concern over the termination, especially since the agreement was made to uphold freedom and democracy.
“UP has always been and will always be a citadel of freedom and democracy. No to the unilateral and arbitrary termination of the Enrile-Soto Accord. Pakiusap lang. Please don’t mess with UP,” Pangilinan said over Twitter.
Moments after the scrapping of the UP-DND accord, the hashtag #DefendUP also trended on social media.
Lorenzana defended DND’s move to unilaterally terminate the long-time agreement as it has become “a safe haven for the enemies of the state.”
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.