Defense department should respect UP's academic freedom: lawyer

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2021 02:13 PM

The University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Department of National Defense should respect the University of the Philippines' academic freedom even as it terminated a deal that prohibits state forces from entering UP campuses without prior notice to school officials, a lawyer and professor at the state university said Tuesday.

Government agencies are required to uphold UP's academic freedom under Republic Act No. 9500 or the UP Charter of 2008, which "supersedes" the 1989 Abueva-Ramos deal restricting access of uniformed personnel to the university, said Marichu Lambino, who teaches at the UP College of Mass Communication.

"Iyon pong mga service-wide agencies katulad ng Department of National Defense, bound sila na igalang ang academic freedom ng pamantasan," she told Teleradyo.

(This means service-wide agencies like the Department of National Defense are bound to respect the academic freedom of the university.)

Lambino reminded the DND of the UP charter as she suggested that the department may go after people who are conducting protest rallies inside UP campuses, following the agency's decision to unilaterally terminate the decades-old deal.

She also questioned the timing of the abrogation, considering that students have not been going to UP campuses this academic year due to the pandemic.

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"Walang estudyante ngayon sa UP campus, wala ring faculty dahil online class kami lahat so nakakapagtaka kung ano iyong ginagawa nila," Lambino said.

(There are no students and facutly members right now in UP campuses because we're all doing online class so I'm confused as to what they're doing.)

"Baka po ang pakay nila ay siraan ang reputasyon ng UP," she added.

(Perhaps they want to ruin the reputation of UP.)

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said the deal is “a hindrance in providing effective security, safety and welfare” to the UP community, claiming that “there is indeed an ongoing clandestine recruitment inside UP campuses nationwide for membership” in the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army.

University President Danilo Concepcion has urged Lorenzana to revoke and reconsider his decision to terminate the agreement.