MANILA – A bill institutionalizing the 1989 UP-Department of National Defense (DND) accord into the UP Charter hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives.
During a virtual hearing on Wednesday, the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, chaired by Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, approved the committee report on the substitute bill that would amend Section 11 of Republic Act 9500 or the University of the Philippines (UP) Charter of 2008.
The measure consolidated House Bill 8437 by Deputy Speaker Eduardo Villanueva, HB 8515 by Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, and HB 8545 by KABATAAN Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.
Among the amendments to the said law was the provision which states that prior notification should be given by the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), or any other law enforcement agency intending to conduct any police, military, or law enforcement operation in any UP campus nationwide to the UP President or the Chancellor of the constituent university or dean of the college concerned.
Department of National Defense (DND) legal and legislative affairs chief Norman Daanoy told the committee the DND is not supporting the whole bill, citing legal/constitutional questions on the bill.
Daanoy said this is not an issue of infringing freedoms, but an issue involving the protection of students from the deceptive recruitment of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).
“This is not an issue of academic freedom, UP has all the academic freedom it wants. This is not an issue of freedom of expression, UP can exercise this right and be protected by the Constitution,” Daanoy said. “We believe that the issue involved here is the protection of the students from being recruited by the CPP-NPA. We have to stop or deny the CPP-NPA from recruiting our students. This is not just law enforcement, this is a matter of national security.”
The DND-UP Agreement signed on June 30, 1989 prohibits the military and the police from entering all UP campuses without prior notice to its administration.
The agency decided to terminate the agreement effective Jan. 15, 2021, with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana calling the arrangement "obsolete".
The agreement was used by the CPP-NPA to turn UP into the breeding ground of "intransigent individuals and groups whose extremist beliefs have inveigled students to join their ranks to fight against the government," Lorenzana said. (PNA)