Lorenzana open for dialogue with UP execs if UP will explain deaths of students in clashes
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said he is ready for a dialog with the University of the Philippines (UP) following the unilateral termination of the 1989 agreement banning security forces from the state university’s campuses nationwide.
However, he said he would only be open to discussions if the deaths of some students in military encounters with the New People’s Army (NPA) will be explained.
“I am open to dialog with them. I appreciate the intercession of well-meaning people like the members of the Senate, also Sec. Harry Roque who offered his office for dialog between me and (UP President) Danilo Concepcion,” Lorenzana said in a press briefing aired live on social media.
“I am willing to talk to him but they should answer first why these people were killed,” he said, as he raised a document showing images of UP students supposedly killed in encounters with communist rebels.
“Why were they killed with the NPA? This is a list of students from UP campuses nationwide who were killed in encounters with the AFP,” Lorenzana said.
“Explain to me why this happened and why they failed to protect these young kids joining these organizations? As a parent, I feel sad for these kids who died this way…. If they can’t explain it, then forget it,” he said.
The unilateral termination of the agreement by the Department of National Defense came to light on Monday night, after UP posted a copy of the notice on its social media accounts.
In a letter dated Jan. 15, Lorenzana said the agreement had been a hindrance to operations against communist rebels, especially the recruitment of cadres in UP.
Lorenzana believes the DND could unilaterally end the agreement without prior consultation with UP officials.
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