Senate bill bars unauthorized military, police presence in SUCs
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Pangilinan has filed a bill that would bar the conduct of unauthorized military or police operations in all state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Pangilinan filed Senate Bill No. 2016 or the proposed Academic Freedom Act following the unilateral abrogation of the accord between the Department of National Defense and the University of the Philippines, which prohibits military and police presence in its campuses without prior notification to university authorities.
“All institutions of higher learning, especially all state universities and colleges (SUCs), should be centers of free thought – environments that encourage new thoughts and test old ones,” Pangilinan said in filing the bill.
“Intellectual liberty is foundational to a democracy. Our nation’s top political, legal, business, economic, civic, and scientific leaders, both past and present, are fruits of the enjoyment of unimpeded and unrestrained academic freedom by institutions of higher learning,” he added.
If enacted into law, the conduct of any operation by members of the uniformed personnel will only be allowed upon prior coordination with the administration of the SUC.
No member of the uniformed personnel may enter the SUC premises except only in the case of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency or in cases of “ordinary transit through the premises.”
Uniformed personnel can also enter the SUC premises if an official from the university “is of the opinion that assistance of uniformed personnel is indispensable to the maintenance of security, peace and order within SUC premises.”
In clarifying situations where law enforcement agents can enter SUC premises, the bill stressed that “nothing” in the measure should be “construed as a prohibition against the enforcement of the laws of the land.”
Service of warrants
Under the bill, the service of arrest and search warrants on any student, faculty, or an invited participant in any official SUC activity be done after prior notification is given to the proper university official “as far as practicable.”
“The same requirement of notification applies to any oral or written ‘invitation’ for questioning and similar purposes,” according to the measure.
If giving prior notification by the serving party “is not practical,” the bill requires the submission of a report to the concerned SUC official “immediately, but not later than twenty-four hours after the service of the warrant.”
Prior notification should also be observed in the service of any notice or order issued under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
An arrest or detention of any student, faculty or personnel of the SUC anywhere in the country should be “reported immediately by the responsible head of the uniformed personnel effecting the arrest or detention to the appropriate SUC official, who shall then take the necessary action.”
Under the measure, no SUC student, faculty or employee should be subjected to custodial investigation or detention without an arrest warrant and without prior notice to the appropriate university official, and except in the presence of the counsel chosen by the student, faculty or employee, or appointed for them by said SUC official.
If signed into law, violation of the provisions under the measure would result in administrative liability, which will be “considered grave whenever such non-compliance results in serious physical injury or death of a student, faculty, employee, or guest of the SUC.”
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