Senators to Lorenzana: Reconsider scrapping of UP-DND accord
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators on Tuesday called on Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to reconsider his decision to terminate an agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) that bars the police and military from entering school campuses without prior permission.
Senator Sonny Angara, a UP graduate, voiced his concern over the Department of National Defense’s (DND) unilateral abrogation of its 1989 agreement with the state university.
“Just like any other legal agreement, prior consultation is required before any decision to amend or, in this case, terminate is implemented,” the senator said.
“We appeal to our good Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to reconsider his decision and sit down with the officials of UP to come up with solutions to ensuring peace and security in our nation, which I am sure is an aspiration shared by both sides,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also asked Lorenzana to review his decision, saying that the abrogation of the agreement “unnecessarily increases the tension between the UP community and the authorities.”
“It just heightens the tension; it does not solve any problem,” he added.
Senator Francis Pangilinan also called on the DND to reconsider its action, as he pushed for dialogue between the two parties involved.
Along with six other senators, Pangilinan recently filed a resolution “expressing the Senate’s sense to oppose” the scrapping of the agreement.
Senator Nancy Binay, a 1977 UP graduate, also criticized the DND’s unilateral termination of the accord showed the agency’s “disrespect for democratic rights by constricting academic freedom.”
“Red-tagging UP students and constricting UP’s democratic space do not silence critical opinions,” she said.
“Limiting and suppressing the democratic rights of students, faculty, non-academic staff, and the entire UP community does not diminish their sense of patriotism—nor will keep the community silent,” she added.
Further, the senator warned that the agreement’s “unnecessary” termination would “only breed more mistrust and bring us far apart” instead of fostering unity.
For her part, Senator Leila de Lima sees the pact abrogation as a message to the UP community that “the Duterte administration is now taking its brand of fascism inside the campuses whenever they please.
“It is a warning to students, professors and staff not to speak ill of the wannabe dictator in Malacañang, lest they be branded enemies of the State,” said De Lima, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics.
Meanwhile, the state “should not break” the accord with UP, Senator Joel Villanueva said.
He said there are many “very important” issues where resources of the military and the police “will be more efficiently utilized.”
“We have the West Philippine Sea issue, increasing criminality due to [Philippine offshore gaming operators], extrajudicial killings of doctors, lawyers, among other individuals,” he said.
“The university is a bastion of freedom. Let’s nurture our youth’s passion for political and social causes,” he added.
Unlike some Senate members, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa earlier said DND’s decision to terminate the pact was “long overdue”. At the same time, Senator Panfilo Lacson sees some sense in the security sector’s action.
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