UP, DND hold ‘very fruitful’ dialogue on scrapped accord
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) is rethinking its decision to terminate its accord with the University of the Philippines (UP) after the parties held a “very fruitful” dialogue, an official of the state university said.
Dean Elena Pernia, UP vice president for public affairs, said officials of UP, the DND and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) met at the Veterans Golf Club in Quezon City on Thursday, the first among the series of meetings to discuss problems arising from a 1989 agreement that barred security forces from entering any of the UP campuses around the country without prior notification.
Pernia said UP officials asked Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to reconsider his January 15 decision terminate the agreement, which he called a “hindrance in providing effective security, safety and welfare of the students, faculty and employees.”
During the meeting Pernia said Lorenza agreed to rethink the termination after UP president Danilo Concepcion explained the position of the univerity.
“Secretary Lorenzana was able to realize too that perhaps there should have been discussions first before he did his steps,” Pernia said, conceding that some provisions of the accord were not implemented and needed to be improved, particularly the creation of a joint monitoring group that would regularly meet to look into security issues in the university.
Pernia said, however, that UP will uphold its academic freedom while talks with the DND are still ongoing.
“Academic freedom as it has been practiced not only in UP but in all higher education institutions in the Philippines and in the whole world relate to the freedom of students, the faculty have: to teach, to study, to discuss without the atmosphere that one is being monitored,” she said.
A joint statement signed by Concepcion, Lorenzana and CHEd chair Prospero de Vera III said the dialogue “afforded the key leaders the opportunity to discuss the way forward and possible areas of cooperation on how both institutions can promote mutual aspirations to ensure a safe and secure environment conducive to learning.”
The DND said the meeting was a “positive development as we seek ways to move forward and strengthen our collaboration with academic institutions all over the country.”
Newly installed AFP chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana maintained that they would still notify UP officials should they enter the university premises in honor of the accord.
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