MANILA - There is a sense in the move of the government to terminate an accord with the University of the Philippines on the entry of state forces into campus grounds, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.
Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana has sent a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion notifying him of the unilateral abrogation of the 1989 agreement that requires prior notification before police and military personnel can enter and conduct operations in the state university's campuses.
For Lacson, a former police chief who authored the Anti-Terrorism Act, this made sense as universities such as UP and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines have become a "hotbed of recruitment" to join the armed communist movement, the New People's Army.
"There’s sense in the move taken by the President and Sec. Lorenzana because during our red-tagging hearings in the Senate, it was established that —not only UP in particular, other universities—talagang ‘yung recruitment nanggagaling dun sa mga estudyante up to the point that they’re being killed in encounters," he told ANC's Heeadstart.
"To join the militant organizations, that’s fine because you can protest all you want. But when you bear arms against the government and you’re very young, you’re vulnerable and you’re 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," he said.
Lacson admitted the termination of the 1989 accord will affect the culture within UP and that it will trigger outcry and protests.
"UP is known to be independent and they are involved in so many political issues, they enjoy so much freedom and then all of a sudden you’ll take it away from them. That really hurts," he said.
He added, there is also a possibility that it will infringe on the academic freedom of the premiere state university.
"We don’t know how they will implement the termination or how deep they will infiltrate the UP campuses all over the country. But if it’s designed to muzzle the academic freedom and other freedoms of UP, then you can describe it as that, overstepping," he said.
Concepcion, in his reply to Lorenzana, said termination of the agreement was "totally unnecessary and unwarranted" and may result in worsening relations between the two institutions.
Lacson said while it remains to be seen what security forces intend to do inside UP campuses, the two sides could probably lay out boundaries to be observed.