EXPLAINER: The 1989 UP-DND Accord
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) delivered a bomb on Tuesday when it unilaterally scrapped the 1989 agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP), which gives prior notice before police and military could enter UP campuses.
In his Jan. 15 letter, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told UP President Danilo Concepcion that his office has decided to abrogate the 1989 UP-DND agreement, which he said had been a “hindrance in providing effective security, safety, and welfare of the students, faculty, and employees of UP.”
Lorenzana added that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA), both tagged as terrorist organizations by the Anti-Terrorism Council, have been recruiting students inside the campus.
ALERT: DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sent a letter to UP President Danilo Conception to notify its unilateral…
The termination of the pact means that the military and police can enter the premises of any of the UP campuses without prior notice to the administration of the university.
The agreement between UP and DND was inked on June 30, 1989 between constitutionalist and UP President Jose Abueva and then-Defense chief Fidel Ramos.
An earlier agreement in 1982, known as the Soto-Enrile Accord, was signed between student leader Sonia Soto and and then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. The agreement prohibits members of the police or military from entering UP campuses “except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency.”
UP professor and journalist Danilo Arao recounted the abduction of Donato Continente, then staff of the Philippine Collegian, who was “tortured and forced to confess” to the murder of an American soldier.
Arao said the 1989 UP-DND Accord was signed 14 days following the incident.
“(The year) 1989: As a news writer of the Philippine Collegian, I remember the abduction of our staff Donato Continente on the night of June 16 at Vinzons Hall. He was tortured and forced to confess to the killing of Col. James Rowe. This is why the UP-DND accord was signed 14 days later,” said Arao in a Tweet on Monday.
1989: As a news writer of the Philippine Collegian, I remember the abduction of our staff Donato Continente on the night of June 16 at Vinzons Hall. He was tortured and forced to confess to the killing of Col. James Rowe. This is why the UP-DND accord was signed 14 days later.
— Danilo Arao (@dannyarao) January 18, 2021
“The signing of the UP-DND accord is meant to stop the military and police from abducting UP constituents like Donato Continente who was then our staff at the Philippine Collegian. To terminate the accord is to legalize the deplorable,” he added in a separate Tweet.
1989=2021: The signing of the UP-DND accord is meant to stop the military and police from abducting UP constituents like Donato Continente who was then our staff at the Philippine Collegian. To terminate the accord is to legalize the deplorable.
— Danilo Arao (@dannyarao) January 18, 2021
What is stated in the agreement?
“Prior notification shall be given by a commander of an AFP, PC-INP, or Citizens’ Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU) unit intending to conduct any military or police operations in any of the UP campuses.”
Except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency, “no member of the AFP, or the PCP-INP, or CAFGU shall enter the premises of any of the campuses or its regional units.”
In case any of the UP officials seek the assistance of the AFP or PC-INP, “only uniformed member of the troops with proper identification” will be allowed inside the campus.
The military and police “shall not interfere with peaceful protest actions by UP constituents” within campus premises.
The UP administration shall be informed of any search or arrest warrant on any student, faculty, employee, or invited participant of the university in any official UP activity.
“No UP student, faculty, or employee shall be subjected to custodial investigation without prior notice” to the administration of UP.
The joint monitoring group (UP Faculty Regent, UP Student Regent, UP Vice-President for Public Affairs, and university administration) and the police and military “shall meet at least twice a year, or as often as may be necessary, to determine compliance with [the] agreement.”
Nothing in the signed agreement “shall be construed as a prohibition against the enforcement of the laws of the land.”
Voices opposing the termination of the pact
Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday denounced DND’s decision to scrap the agreement which she described as a move that is meant to “sow fear” and “silence criticism.”
“This is neither a difficult nor onerous rule, and five Presidents since 1989 have managed to protect both the UP community and the Republic without breaking it,” Robredo said in a statement.
“Clearly, then, this is not a practical gesture, but a symbolic one. One designed to sow fear. One designed to discourage dissent. One designed to silence criticism,” she added.
Senator Francis Pangilinan and Sorsogon Gov. Francis Escudero, who both studied in UP, also slammed the termination.
Some netizens likewise voiced their opposition against the abrogation. Some said that the pronouncement might be another way of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to threaten and silence activists who have been vocal in criticizing the president’s policies including the red-tagging activities and the current Covid-19 pandemic response.
Lorenzana said the DND will not set up military or police outposts inside the campuses “nor suppress activist groups, academic freedom and freedom of expression.”
The defense secretary insisted that the move was to protect students and the UP community from “extremism and armed struggles.”
The DND, he said, will “not tolerate those who will violate the laws of the land in the guise of lawful public dissent, free assembly and free speech.”
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate national defense committee, also backed the DND’s decision.
“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.
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