The Philippine Bar Association (PBA) on Saturday (Jan. 23) criticized the office Solicitor General Jose Calida for justifying the move of the Department of National Defense (DND) to end its agreement with the University of the Philippines (PNP) that has hindered the entry of police and the military in its campuses.
“The Philippine Bar Association, the oldest voluntary national organization of lawyers established in April 1891, expresses its deep concern over the recent abrogation by the Department of Defense of its Accord with the University of the Philippines,” the PBA said in a statement.
The group learned that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) asserted that “the accord was revoked in view of the fact that schools, UP among them, have become the hotbed for CPP/NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army) recruitment activities.”
“This is a cause for alarm if established if established by evidence. However, the OSG offers none. Just because there had been isolated instances of UP students joining the CPP/NPA, it does not follow that UP is a ‘hotbed’,” the PBA explained.
The OSG also claimed that the UP-DND accord violates the Rules of Court since the agreement required prior notice to the university in serving arrest and search warrants.
“This ‘violation’ is illusory since the Rules do not prohibit it. The Supreme Court has ruled that what is not prohibited by law may be done,” PBA said.
It also disagreed with the OSG’s claim termination of the accord does not defeat the freedom to peaceably assemble and protest.
“One cannot meaningfully exercise one’s right to petition the Government for the redress of grievances while facing the barrel of a gun or in the presence of clandestine operatives. The mere threat of surveillance and arrest chills the People to silence, suppressing the rights that underpin our democracy,” said the PBA.
Meanwhile, PBA urged the DND and UP to “not view each other as adversaries but as partners in sharing a common goal: protecting the Rule of Law while affording respect to human rights.”
“Indeed, close coordination and cooperation between Government agencies has always been and should remain the norm,” it stated.