Esperon: Police station could rise on UP campus to ‘protect citizenry’
MANILA, Philippines—National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Thursday (Jan. 21) raised the possibility of the Philippine National Police (PNP) setting up a station at Barangay UP Campus, which is part of the sprawling campus of University of the Philippines-Diliman.
In an interview with TV station One News on Thursday night, the security official said this, however, would depend on the PNP leadership.
The Department of National Defense last week terminated a 1989 agreement with UP barring the entry of state security forces on UP campuses without coordination with university officials.
The agreement was meant to prevent police and military from targeting student and teacher activists for their political beliefs.
The DND said it wanted to end the deal because communist rebels were using it as “cover” to recruit students.
Esperon said there were no plans yet to set up a military detachment on UP “except for personnel that will be assigned to the ROTC unit of UP.”
“There’s not an even a plan yet to establish a police station inside the UP campus. None yet,” he said.
“That can happen but the deployment and establishment of stations would be the call of the NCR (National Capital Region) police office and to be implemented by the PNP which is no longer under the DND,” he said.
Barangay UP Campus ranked 20th in peace and order indicator among 142 villages in Quezon City and is considered as a “crime hot spot,” according to data released by the PNP also on Thursday, a few days after the DND terminated the agreement.
There are eight barangays within the 493-hectare UP Diliman campus.
The accord has been hampering security operations in the area, according to Esperon. “In the agreement you need to give prior notice before you can conduct search warrants which is an impediment in police enforcement,” he said.
“That is never done in communities, you advise people there that you will search them or serve warrants. I think that’s not the normal police way of doing business or enforcement,” he said.
Police patrol operations are also likely in the community in the future.
“The purpose of patrols is to protect the citizenry,” said Esperon, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s military chief.
“Are we not glad that these would come in the neighborhood, perhaps in the dark places of Diliman compound?” he said.
“There are villages there that are drug-infested,” he said in Filipino. “There are many transients passing through the UP compound without anyone conducting a checkpoint,” Esperon said.
“They’re free to enter and exit and sometimes they stay there. There are many things that can happen there,” he added.
Human rights groups and activists raised fears that the termination of the agreement would stifle academic freedom and freedom of expression in UP, considered as a bastion of activism, but security officials repeatedly denied it.
“Activism is okay with us, when you advocate new ideas or question the ways of government or society itself that’s okay,” Esperon said.
“Activism is fair and square. It’s not terrorism but there is a thin line between activism and supporting armed struggle like the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines),” he said.
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