The agreement between the University of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense has received a new lease on life after Senator Joel Villanueva and three other senators filed a bill to integrate the provisions into the State University’s charter.
Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on higher, and technical and vocational education, filed Senate Bill 2002 on Wednesday afternoon, seeking to incorporate the accord which the DND unilaterally abrogated on January 15.
Villanueva was joined by Senators Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, and Sonny Angara as authors of the bill.
“The UP-DND accord is not a “do-not-enter” sign that bars law enforcement from entering the campus. It is not a wall which obstructs justice or deters the solution or prevention of crime. It is unfortunate that its abrogation is being invoked for the wrong reasons,” according to the bill.
“Implying that it has enabled thinking that is critical to the government is a gross misreading of UP’s role as vanguard of independent thought,” the bill’s exploratory note read in part.
“Our country is facing a number of very important issues where the resources of the military and the police can be more efficiently utilized,” the senators said.
“We have the West Philippine Sea dispute, the increasing criminality due to POGOs, and extrajudicial killings, among many others. Our law enforcement agencies and the military establishment must set its priorities straight and focus on what really matters,” they added.
The bill institutionalizes the agreement reached by university and DND officials in 1989, after a staff member of the Philippine Collegian, the official student publication of the State University, was abducted, tortured, and coerced to own up to the killing of a US military officer.
The measure amends Republic Act No. 9500, the UP charter, to include a provision that would prevent the military, police and other law enforcement agencies from entering the premises of UP campuses nationwide “except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency,” or with express permission from university officials specified under the bill.
The bill also sets limits in the service of search or arrest warrants to “any UP student, faculty, employee, or invited participants in any university-sanctioned activity.”
The service of warrants and the like “shall only be done after prior notification is given to the UP President, Chancellor, Dean of the regional unit, or respective officers-in-charge.”