UP Visayas execs, students slam termination of UP-DND accord
ILOILO CITY –– Officials and students of the different campuses of the University of the Philippines (UP) in the Visayas denounced the sudden termination of the 1989 Department of National Defense-UP agreement that regulates police and military operations inside the university’s campuses.
In a statement, UP-Visayas Chancellor Clement Camposano said the “historical events that have shaped the relationship of UP and the country’s security forces—many of these leaving wounds that have yet to heal—explain the university’s strong apprehension.”
“While the (DND) has given assurances that constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms would not be suppressed, these historical events and the sordid reality of recent killings, abductions, and other forms of human rights abuses widely believed to have been perpetrated by security forces cannot but leave us unassured,” he said.
UPV is one of the autonomous units of the UP system and has campuses in Tacloban City, Iloilo City, and Miag-ao town in Iloilo.
Camposano called on members of the UPV “to be steadfast and resolute in the defense of their democratic rights, and in ensuring that the University’s campuses remain free, safe, and welcoming towards a wide range of ideas and advocacies.”
He also “strongly urged” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “to return to the path of reason and reconsider this unilateral and ill-conceived abrogation.”
In a joint statement, the UPV University Student Council, college councils, and student organizations condemned the termination of the agreement pointing out that UPV students, teachers, and employees have already been subjected to red-tagging and harassment even with the accord in place.
It said the termination of the landmark agreement “legitimizes further attacks and harassment against members of the UP community, as well as empowering state forces to stifle our basic Constitutional right to dissent.”
In 2019, several students and teachers were harassed online by supporters of the President after a video of a 15-minute cheering performance of the Skimmers academic group went viral due to its satirical take on university and national issues.
The UPV administration, student organizations, and the academic employees union asserted the freedom of expression of the students and decried the cases of harassment against them.
The Inquirer tried to get a statement from UP Cebu Chancellor Liza Corro but she did not respond yet.
In UP-Tacloban, students and professors also decried the decision of Lorenzana to end the accord between the department and UP.
Ladylyn Lim, a senior faculty member of UP-Tacloban, said the government is making moves that would tend to weaken or trample democratic values instead of focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“UP-Tacloban constituents will remain committed to a stronger voice for a healthy democracy and we need to strengthen democratic values in these difficult times,” she said.
Lim stressed that the UP-DND accord was built on mutual trust and respect between the two institutions.
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