Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Domingo Egon Cayosa said on Wednesday (Jan. 20) the Department of National Defense (DND) did not need to terminate its accord with the University of the Philippines (UP).
“The U.P.-DND accord does not and should not hinder legitimate law enforcement and security operations as the agreement specifically provides that ‘nothing herein shall be construed as a prohibition against the enforcement of the laws of the land’,” Cayosa explained in a statement.
On the other hand, Cayosa, a gradute of UP himself, admitted that the DND could “legally terminate the open-ended U.P.-DND agreement.”
“However, it would have been more ideal and in keeping with statesmanship, mutual respect and courtesy that consultation and dialogue between the two parties, both of which are government institutions, were held to possibly resolve issues and seek solutions before any unilateral abrogation,” he pointed out.
The accord was signed back in 1989 which prevents the police and military from entering UP campuses without coordination from the university.
However, DND Sec. Delfin Lorenzana wrote to UP President Danilo Concepcion that the agreement has been terminated starting Jan. 15 since the university has been used as recruitment for communist groups.
“Diverse groups, including those who oppose government, conduct recruitment in U.P. as they do in many other schools. Nevertheless, what truly impels and fuels dissent is not U.P. or its tradition of critical thinking and activism but the injustice, corruption, incompetence, abuse and oppression, poverty or hopelessness that citizens may experience or discern,” said Cayosa.
Meanwhile, the IBP president said UP should not fret over the decision of termination of the accord.
“Academic freedom, freedom of expression and association, due process, privacy, and other fundamental rights are guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution. These basic rights cannot be taken away by the unilateral scrapping of an agreement for operational coordination,” he said.
“Considering its institutional autonomy as a National University under R.A. 9500, primary authority and responsibility for ‘effective security, safety, and welfare of the students, faculty and employees of U.P.’ rests with the officials of the U.P. System, not with the Department of National Defense or other government agencies/units,” he added.
Though “there is reason to decry and oppose the unilateral termination,” Cayosa said “it may be wise for U.P. and its stakeholders to focus more on what we can do and less on what we cannot control.”