DND, UP agree to more meetings on accord termination, academic freedom issues
MANILA, Philippines — Both the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) have agreed to conduct more discussions on academic freedom issues and the recent termination of the accord between the parties.
According to a joint statement from UP, DND, and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), the dialogue held on Thursday opened opportunities for officials of each side to discuss lingering issues, which popped up after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana abrogated the deal, which prevented unauthorized military and police presence inside UP campuses.
Asid from Lorenzana, also present during the meeting were UP president Danilo Concepcion and CHEd Chairperson and UP Board of Regents chair Prospero De Vera III.
“The dialogue afforded the key leaders the opportunity to discuss the way forward and possible areas of cooperation on how both institutions can promote their mutual aspirations to ensure a safe and secure environment conducive to learning,” the joint statement, signed by Lorenzana, De Vera, and Concepcion, said.
“The parties agreed and look forward to subsequent meetings to continue the dialogue,” it added.
In a separate statement, De Vera said that he hopes this would be the start of fruitful discussions on the UP-DND accord and the issues it is facing. Previously, the CHEd chief noted that the said agreement was deemed to be problematic due to supposedly vague provisions in it.
“As I have said in my previous statement, both DND and UP have publicly stated their continuing commitment to protect academic freedom, promote the welfare of students, and enforce natural laws — all embodied in no less than the Constitution itself,” De Vera said.
“It is, therefore, crucial that both sides start discussing their concerns, and this morning I am happy to bring together UP and DND so that both sides can have an open and frank exchange of views over a wide range of issues related to the accord,” he added.
Last January 15, Lorenzana sent a letter to Concepcion informing the latter that the UP-DND deal has been terminated, based on recent events where UP students were supposedly recruited into the communist armed movement, specifically the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
But while the Defense chief maintained that they were only out to protect the university from enemies of the state, people supportive of UP’s plight – students, alumni, professors, and academic freedom advocates – believe that it is merely a step to silence the critical community.
Several others poked fun at Lorenzana, saying that the chances of life and stupid things happening are more likely than being recruited into the communist movement.
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