House inquiry on unilateral termination of UP-DND accord pushed
MANILA, Philippines — An inquiry into the abrogation by the Department of National Defense (DND) of a 1989 agreement that prohibits any military and police presence inside the campuses of the University of the Philippines (UP) without prior notice is being pushed in the House of Representatives.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman filed House Resolution No. 1490 which urges the House committee on human rights to “immediately conduct” the said inquiry, in aid of legislation.
In the resolution, Lagman argued that the DND’s unilateral termination of the agreement without prior consultation with and conformity of UP is “illegal and void ab initio because the subject agreement was entered into bilaterally and mutually.”
“With the unilateral termination of the subject agreement, it is now open season for the military and police invasion of UP campuses in the guise of upholding national security and maintaining peace and order,” Lagman said.
“The unilateral and baseless abrogation of the subject accord red-tags the entire UP constituencies nationwide consisting of UP Diliman, UP Manila, UP Los Baños, UP Visayas, and the regional units in Baguio, San Fernando, Tacloban, Miag-ao (Iloilo), and Cebu,” the lawmaker added.
Further, Lagman said that the unilateral termination of the agreement is fraught with emerging violations of academic freedom, civil liberties, and fundamental rights protected in the Constitution.
“The one-sided termination comes in the heels of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 whose odious and constitutional infirmities have been challenged before the Supreme Court in 37 petitions, the biggest number of petitions in history assailing a Statute,” said Lagman.
In a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion dated Jan. 15, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the agreement had been a hindrance to operations against communist rebels, especially the recruitment of NPA cadres in UP.
Lorenzana said the DND “is aware that there is indeed an ongoing clandestine recruitment inside UP campuses nationwide” by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA). Both have been declared as terrorist organizations by the Anti-Terrorism Council created by the new anti-terror law.
In response, Concepcion said the unilateral termination of the pact was totally unnecessary, adding that it may worsen, rather than improve, relations between the institutions.