Hontiveros tells DND: Communists not at UP campus but in West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday denounced the decision of the Department of National Defense to scrap a long-standing agreement with the University of the Philippines on the presence of military and police in its campuses, saying the communists may not be found at the campus, but at the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“Kung desidido ang administrasyon maghanap ng komunista, pagdiskitahan nila yung mga komunistang lantarang nanghihimasok sa West Philippine Sea,” she said in a statement, apparently referring to the Chinese occupying the hotly contested territories also being claimed by the Philippines.
(If they really want to catch communists then they should focus their attention on the communists who are blatantly intruding in the West Philippine Sea.)
“Needlessly propping up the ‘communist bogeyman’ has always been an obscene vanity project and an excuse for their red tagging and disregard for basic human rights,” she added.
UP is a “bastion of student activism and its grounds must continue to be a safe space for dissent and peaceful assembly,” added Hontiveros.
On Monday, the Department of National Defense (DND) unilaterally terminated a 1989 agreement with 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.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon likewise asked Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to review his decision.
“This unnecessarily increases the tension between the UP community and the authorities. I know Sec. Delfin Lorenzana to be a very reasonable person,” Drilon said in a statement.
“I would ask him to review the termination of the agreement, because it does not solve any problem. It just heightens the tension; it does not solve any problem,” he added.
The minority leader, who was saddened by the termination of the accord, said that UP values “the freedom inside the campus.”
“We are not saying that UP should be beyond the law. If there are issues of violations of the law, a search warrant is a remedy available to the authorities not only in other places but also in UP,” he added.
Earlier, 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.”
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.”
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