CHR welcomes House approval of bill banning troops in UP campus
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it hoped the bill, which seeks to institutionalize the agreement between the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to ban state troops inside the campus, would be fully enacted into law.
In a statement on Thursday, Jacqueline Ann de Guia, spokesperon for the CHR, said the commission welcomed the approval on third and final reading of House Bill No. 10171, which can “ensure the safety and security of the members of the UP community.”
The CHR said the law could also help the state university carry out its mandate “as the country’s leading public and secular institution of higher learning.”
“The overwhelming approval of HB 10171 at the House of Representatives sends a strong commitment of the State to respect people’s freedom to express dissent, protest and exercise their academic freedom,” the commission said.
HB 10171 was uninamously approved by 179 lawmakers on third and final reading on Tuesday.
Once enacted into law, the 1989 UP-DND accord will be officially included in the UP Charter.
Under this 32-year-old agreement, members of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement agencies are barred from entering any campus within the UP system, except in cases of emergency or hot pursuit.
In January, the DND informed UP officials through a letter that it is unilaterally terminating the 1989 agreement, a move strongly criticized by the UP community, alumni and human rights groups.
The CHR said that, in the past, the accord had safeguarded the rights of students, faculty and employees from arbitrary repressions inside the campus.
The CHR stressed that these constitutional rights, including the freedom to express dissent, protest and exercise their academic freedom, should never be suppressed.
“Instead of discouraging the youth to participate in national discourse and suppressing their idealism, we must draw on their ideas and engage them in finding solutions to the country’s problems, especially now that we are in the process of national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CHR said.
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