‘Deadly recruitment’: AFP chief says 18 UP students who joined NPA killed in clashes with soldiers
MANILA, Philippines—The University of the Philippines is “one of the rich sources” of New People’s Army recruits, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said on Wednesday (Jan. 20), expressing support for the Department of National Defense’s (DND) decision to scrap a 1989 agreement requiring prior notice to university officials for security operations on UP campuses.
“The termination of the agreement should instead be focused on the fact that UP is one of the rich sources of NPA recruits,” said Gapay in a statement.
Citing AFP records, Gapay said at least 18 UP students recruited by NPA were killed in clashes with government security forces. “And this deadly recruitment has to stop,” he said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana last week notified UP President Danilo Concepcion of the DND decision to end the agreement. UP later posted a copy of the notice on its social media accounts.
“We cannot remain bound by an agreement that dictates that we have to seek permission before we can enter UP campuses,” Gapay said. “We should not be tied to a covenant that requires prior notice before we can effect arrests or searches even if the courts have issued the warrants,” he added.
He maintained that the military will not interfere with “UP’s liberty to choose who may teach, what can be taught, the manner with which it will be taught or who may study in UP.”
“That academic freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution, it does not require enabling laws or any other agreements —certainly not from the voided agreement,” he said.
Concepcion earlier said the termination of the accord was “totally unnecessary and unwarranted.”
The agreement was meant to prevent government security forces from targeting student and teacher activists for their political beliefs.
But Gapay said that “the fact that only UP enjoys such privileges under the voided agreement violates the equal protection clause under the Constitution.”
“There is no substantial distinction between UP and other schools, state colleges, and universities,” Gapay said.
“To give to UP such entitlement places it an unfairly advantaged status over the academic institutions and defies that constitutional guarantee of equality of rights and protection under our laws,” he said.
The AFP chief said he was looking forward to pursuing “a more collaborative relationship” with UP and other universities, “to usher the rebirth of schools and state universities that are bastions of genuine patriotism and not of misguided activism.”
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