MANILA – Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday urged the Department of National Defense (DND) to reconsider its decision in unilaterally abrogating its agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) on the entry and operation of the military and the police in UP campuses.

No more trust in gov’t, state forces: Rufus Rodriguez warns of ‘chilling effect’ over ending of UP-DND accord

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MANILA – Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday urged the Department of National Defense (DND) to reconsider its decision in unilaterally abrogating its agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) on the entry and operation of the military and the police in UP campuses.

Rodriguez said the unilateral decision sends a “chilling effect” on the exercise of the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly, which have thrived in UP, as it will breed mistrust in the government and its uniformed forces.

“UP has produced trail-blazers in all fields and sectors; thus, it is in the State’s interest to protect the rights of the institution, its faculty, and students whose exchange of ideas have continuously strengthened our democracy as shown in our history,” Rodriguez said.

He said the scrapping of the agreement could drive political dissenters, who are a minority in the UP community, into extremism, “a prospect the DND wants to prevent in its abrogation decision and would be counterintuitive to the goals of the State”.

Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, meanwhile, said the unilateral termination of the UP-DND accord may have an opposite outcome of its stated objective to “reach out to the youth” and “see their Armed Forces and Police as protectors worthy of trust, not fear.”

“The irony is that instead of ‘protecting and securing the institution and youth against the enemies of the Filipino people’, it will provide a basis for the Armed Forces and Police to be seen as the enemy of the institution and the youth,” Biazon said.

Biazon said the DND should enter into a dialogue with the UP leadership and community to come to terms to a joint approach in countering the recruitment of the youth to the armed struggle, while at the same time maintaining the university as a haven for academic freedom, critical thinking, and ideological debate.

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor expressed hope that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana “will find the wisdom” to recall his sudden revocation of the 32-year-old accord that prevented soldiers from freely entering any of the UP campuses.

“We are hoping that Camp Aguinaldo will come to realize that it just created a problem where there used to be none. UP does not need any protection from the military,” Defensor said.

Defensor stressed that any unwanted military presence in UP, or in any higher institution of learning for that matter, is bound to constitute an “invasion of academic freedom”.

“We certainly do not want soldiers, whether in uniform or civilian clothes, stalking campuses and inhibiting the freedom of our teachers and students to study and express their ideas,” he said.

‘Long overdue’

Senator Ronald Bato dela Rosa, meanwhile, said the DND’s move to abrogate the “obsolete” 1989 agreement was “long overdue”.

“The government was fooled by the CPP/NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front) in the last 31 years through that agreement,” said dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police chief.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, another former Philippine National Police chief, said the recent move of the security sector made sense, considering that communist recruitment has reportedly occurred not only in UP but also in other state universities and colleges.

“To join the militant organizations, that’s fine. You can protest all you want. But when you bear arms against government and you are very young, you are vulnerable, you are easily radicalized, and the hotbed of recruitment would be UP, PUP and other universities, then I think the security sector has studied all the factors involved before they acted on the matter,” Lacson said in a television interview.

The DND-UP Agreement signed on June 30, 1989 prohibits the military and the police from entering all UP campuses without prior notice from its administration.

The agency decided to terminate the agreement effective Jan. 15, 2021, with 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)

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POLITIKO / Across the Nation

POLITIKO / Latest News

Twitter to boot users who persist with Covid-19 lies

Twitter said Monday it will start labeling misleading tweets about Covid-19 vaccines and boot users who persist in spreading such misinformation.

The one-to-many messaging service introduced a “strike system” that will gradually escalate to a permanent ban after the fifth offending tweet.

“We believe the strike system will help to educate the public on our policies and further reduce the spread of potentially harmful and misleading information on Twitter,” the San Francisco-based company said in a blog post.

“Particularly for repeated moderate and high-severity violations of our rules.”

Twitter users will be notified when a tweet is labeled as misleading or needs to be removed for breaking the platform’s rules, earning a strike, according to the company.

The second and third strikes will each result in the violating account being blocked for 12 hours.

With a fourth violation, an account will be sidelined for seven days. A fifth strike will get accounts permanently suspended, Twitter said.

Twitter late last year began calling on users to remove dangerously misleading Covid-19 claims, including suggestions that vaccines are used to harm or control people.

The service also targeted baseless claims about adverse effects of vaccines or questioning the reality of the pandemic.

Since then, Twitter has removed more than 8,400 tweets and notified some 11.5 million accounts worldwide about violations of its Covid-19 information rules.

The strike system is similar to what Twitter applies to election-related misinformation, which led to former US president Donald Trump being permanently banned for repeated violations, including language that the platform said could incite violence and questioning the integrity of the voting process.

Covid-19 vaccination campaigns are taking place in many countries in an effort to keep people healthy and return to pre-pandemic lifestyles.

YouTube and Facebook are among the online platforms that have taken steps to fight the spread of lies about the pandemic and vaccines.


© Agence France-Presse

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Tokyo asks China to end Covid-19 anal swabs for Japanese

Japan has asked China to avoid using anal swabs to test its citizens for coronavirus, saying the method prompted complaints of “psychological distress”.

Tokyo’s intervention comes after reports that US diplomatic personnel in China had complained of being subjected to the intrusive tests — a claim Beijing denied.

China, which has largely brought the virus under control domestically, said last month that anal swabs can be more effective than normal throat and nose tests as the virus can linger longer in the digestive system.

But Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said late Monday that Tokyo had made a formal request through its embassy in Beijing that people arriving from the country be exempted.

“Our embassy requested Japanese citizens be excluded from anal PCR tests, as some Japanese expatriates… expressed the opinion that the tests produce significant psychological distress,” Kato said.

“At this point we have not received a response that they change this… We will continue pressing the issue,” he added, noting that there was no information that any other country was using the method.

Asked about the complaint, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing’s testing methods were “science-based” and “in accordance with the changes in the epidemic situation as well as relevant laws and regulations”.

Last month, US media said State Department personnel in China had complained about the method, but Beijing rebuffed the reports, saying it had “never requested US diplomatic personnel in China to undergo anal swabs”.

Officials in China have used anal swabs to test people it considers at high-risk of contracting Covid-19, including residents of neighbourhoods with confirmed cases as well as some international travellers.

But they have acknowledged it would be hard to use anal swabs as widely as the other methods, which have been used to test millions in mass campaigns, as the technique was “not convenient”. Agence France-Presse

Philippines fires diplomat whose maid attacks were caught on film

The Philippines has sacked its former ambassador to Brazil, after she was caught on camera attacking a domestic worker at her official residence in Brasilia.

Marichu Mauro was recalled to Manila late last year after Brazil’s GloboNews channel broadcast security camera footage filmed over eight months showing her repeatedly assaulting a member of her household staff.

The career diplomat has now been dismissed from the foreign service, President Rodrigo Duterte told a television audience on Monday.

“There are rules to be followed. If you disobey, you take the risk. If something goes wrong, it’s gonna hit you,” Duterte said.

Mauro’s firing means she will lose her pension. She is also barred from standing for public office.

According to GloboNews, the Filipino worker was employed at the ambassador’s official residence, a large gated compound in Brazil’s capital.

Footage of the abuse — dated between March and October 2020 — was used as evidence in a complaint lodged with the Philippine government against Mauro, it said.

Mauro was posted to Brazil in 2018, from where she oversaw the missions to Colombia, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

Mauro has not responded to AFP’s request for comment on her dismissal.

Millions of Filipinos escape low wages, unemployment and limited opportunities at home by going overseas, including as to become domestic workers. Their remittances are vital to the local economy.

But many of these workers face difficult or dangerous conditions, and reports of physical or psychological abuse are not uncommon, though most instances involve foreign employers. Agence France-Presse



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