Not just ‘Red’ turf: PNP says UP community ‘crime hot spot’
MANILA, Philippines — The military and police piled up allegations of insurgent activities and criminality on the University of the Philippines (UP) on Friday as they continued to justify the abrogation of an agreement between the state university and the Department of National Defense (DND) to ban the entry of security forces into its campuses without prior permission from school officials.
The abrogation of the agreement to remove “special treatment” on UP may have led to an unintended consequence as at least one proposed law had been in filed in Congress to institutionalize the ban on security forces for all state universities.
Also on Friday, Prospero de Vera III, head of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) said he would create a panel of education experts to define the meaning of academic freedom and the role of security forces in protecting the freedom and welfare of students in colleges and universities.
“With the mandate of CHED to attend to the welfare of both the students and their schools, we urge the DND, the UP, and all higher education institutions to exercise sobriety and allow the Ched to call on everyone concerned to jointly discuss the issues especially when everyone have the same goals of student protection, academic freedom and promotion of education — all embodied in no less than the Constitution itself,” De Vera said in a statement.
Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade said in an interview with ANC that members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), were freely roaming and working on the UP Diliman campus, but cited no specific evidence.
He said the CPP-NPA members were engaged in underground activities such as getting recruits, preparing for the anniversary of the NPA, providing “materials for propaganda to destroy the government” and printing bomb-making materials, all in violation of Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act.
He said he was not blaming the UP but the “tools they are using to exercise their academic freedom.”
“One of those tools that’s defective is this. You freely allow your faculty who are members of the CPP to conduct this subtle training and recruitment of these students. You know that and you are not doing anything about that then that’s really a problem,” said Parlade, the chief of the Southern Luzon Command and spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Without the UP-DND accord, Parlade said the military could finally communicate with the students of the university.
“We can organize seminars and briefings for the students, and explain to them the difference between legitimate activism and terrorism, because there’s a very thin line between these, too,” he noted. “We don’t intend to suppress freedom of expression and academic freedom.”
Peace and order indicator
The Philippine National Police on Friday claimed that Barangay UP Campus in Diliman, Quezon City, was a “crime hotspot.”
PNP spokesperson Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said the barangay ranked 20th of the 142 barangays that have been “in the peace and order indicator” of Quezon City since 2016.
Quoting figures from the National Crime Information Reporting and Analysis System, Usana said the volume of index crimes in Barangay UP Campus in 2020 had “dropped significantly,” but non-index crimes “remained consistent.”
The index crime from 2016 to 2020 included 250 drug-related offenses, 106 thefts, 72 robberies, 36 physical injuries, 21 rapes, 14 murders, 23 car thefts and two robberies with homicide.
The nonindex crimes were illegal gambling (72), malicious mischief (21), violence against women and their children (43), direct assault (four), forcible abduction (three), homicide (14), acts of lasciviousness (five), estafa (13), child abuse (43), public health violations (11) and obstruction of justice (two).
Parts of seven other barangays — Krus na Ligas, San Vicente, Botocan, Culiat, Old Capitol Site, Pansol and Vasra — are also within the 493-hectare UP Diliman property.
Usana said that Ched had “noted the ‘prevalence of the drug problem’ in the state university and its police force’s inability to address crime and public safety issues in campus.”
Officials of the UP System and UP Diliman have yet to respond to the PNP’s latest allegations.
Usana urged the UP community to be more open in cooperating with the police, saying the PNP “is a friend in the neighborhood.”
“We aspire to accomplish our interest to help address the prevalence of crime in the premier state university of the country. It must be devoid of any threats posed by criminals and lawless elements,” he told the Inquirer.
He said members of the UP community should “open their minds to the realities around them and think about their safety and security,” adding that cooperation with law enforcers was “not a political issue.”
“Let us protect UP from lawlessness. Thats for their own best interest,” he said.
PNP chief General Debold Sinas said that despite the abrogation of the UP-DND, the police still could not enter university premises without notifying school authorities under another agreement between then UP president Jose Abueva and then Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III in 1992.
Law enforcement on the Diliman campus was the responsibility of the UP Diliman Police, and UP’s Special Services Brigade.
The UP police has 42 officers, nine administrative staff. It is backed up by 240 security guards, according to PNP.
At the House of Representatives, Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, a UP graduate, said he and several of his colleagues were considering submitting a resolution urging the DND to reinstate its 1989 accord with the state university.
He said Quezon City 6th District Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte and Marikina City 2nd District Rep Stella Luz Quimbo, both UP graduates, were helping craft the proposed resolution.
He said the UP-DND agreement would assure the UP community “that they need not worry, they will not be harassed or will be subjected to activities that might affect the belief and actions of students.”
Earlier, Belmonte filed House Bill 8443 seeking to apply the provisions of the UP-DND accord to all state universities and colleges. At the Senate, four senators on Thursday filed a bill to institutionalize the accord into UP Charter through an amendment. — WITH REPORTS FROM JODEE A. AGONCILLO AND JULIE M. AURELIO
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