The relationship between state forces and the University of the Philippines (UP) could worsen following the termination of the accord which barred the entry of the police and military in any of the school’s campuses without notice from academic officials.
This was the warning made by UP president Danilo Concepcion as he appealed to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to reconsider the unilateral abrogation of the 1989 UP accord with the Department of National Defense (DND).
In a letter dated January 19, 2021, Concepcion called the termination of the accord “unnecessary and unwarranted.”
“Instead of instilling confidence in our police and military, your decision can only sow more confusion and mistrust, given that you have not specified what it is that you exactly aim to do or put in place in lieu of the protections and courtesies afforded by the agreement,” he said.
Lorenzana earlier wrote Concepcion to inform him that the DND was terminating its agreement with UP due to the supposed “clandestine recruitment” of students as communist rebels inside UP campuses.
The Defense chief had claimed that members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) were using the accord as a “shield” to prevent state forces from stopping their reported activities inside UP.
Concepcion, however, stressed that the accord was intended to safeguard academic freedom, not for the university to evade or weaken the law.
“Our police and military authorities should have no fear of academic freedom. Indeed UP has bred rebels and nonconformists—as well as it has bred presidents, senators, congressmen, and business, civic, and even military leaders,” he said.
“All the world’s great universities have produced the same range of thinkers and doers. By and large, intellectual and political dissidents in UP have always been in the minority, but it is a critical minority that has historically been vital to the maintenance of a healthy democracy,” Concepcion added.