MANILA (UPDATE) - Government's termination of its accord with the University of the Philippines on the entry of state forces "paves the way" for the implementation of the Anti-Terror Law, its student council said Tuesday.
The long-time accord has "served as protection of the students, faculty and the whole UP community from the abuses of state forces" since its enactment following Martial Law, said Froilan Cariaga, chairperson of the UP Diliman Student Council.
"Ngayon sinusubukan itong lusawin ng administrasyon ay malinaw siya na atake laban sa karapatang sibil ng mga estudyante at ng buong komunidad ng unibersidad at malinaw siyang atake sa academic freedom ng UP at ng iba pang pamantasan," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(Now the administration's aim to end it is an attack against civil rights of the students and the UP community a clear affront against UP and other schools' academic freedom.)
"It paves the way for the implementation of Duterte’s anti-terror law."
In a letter to UP Diliman President Danilo Concepcion, Defense Secretary Lorenzana said the agency was terminating the 1989 agreement to ensure the safety of UP students after some of them were supposedly identified as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army.
The Department of National Defense said Tuesday it unilaterally terminated its agreement with the University of the Philippines as it has become "a safe haven for enemies of the state."
The 1989 agreement requiring state forces to inform UP before its personnel enters campus grounds was a "gesture of courtesy" given to the state university and is now "obsolete," according to Lorenzana.
"However, during the life of the agreement the University of the Philippines has become the breeding ground of intransigent individuals and groups whose extremist beliefs have inveigled students to join their ranks to fight against the government," he said in a statement.
"The country’s premier state university has become a safe haven for enemies of the state."
Lorenzana urged the UP Community to "work together to protect our students from extremism and destructive armed struggle.
The DND will "not tolerate those who will violate the laws of the land in the guise of lawful public dissent, free assembly and free speech," he added.
Cariaga said the government unilaterally terminated the agreement to impede any form of protest, which during the pandemic has taken place inside UP campuses.
"Sinusubukan itong gawin ng pamahalaan dahil sa buong tinakbo ng pandemya sinubukan nilang ipagbawal ang anumang porma ng protesta. Sa loob ng unibersidad nakahanap ng espasyo para sa demokratikong pagkilos ang mga mamamayang Pilipino," he said.
(Government is trying to do this because it has tried to stamp out any forms of protest during the course of the pandemic. The public had found space for democratic protests inside the university.)
UP Visayas chancellor Clement Camposano denounced government's unilateral move and said the university would issue a statement "soon."
The UP administration earlier denied President Rodrigo Duterte's claims that it recruits students to join the communist insurgency.
'REALLY LOW FOR DUTERTE ADMIN'
In a separate interview, Cariaga said suppressing student activism by militarizing campuses is "really low" for the Duterte administration.
"For the whole length of Duterte's term, he has been very evidently a copycat of the previous dictators and dictator wannabees in recent Philippine history," he said.
Cariaga said the President had taken a page out of the playbooks of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when it came to stifling activism.
"So, it comes as no surprise. However, it is really low of the Duterte administration to stoop to this level of suppression of students," he said.
The student leader railed against the government for making such move when it should be focused on solving the COVID-19 crisis.
"Why we ask in the middle of pandemic would the administration try to focus on militarizing campuses when it hasn't even properly resolved the pandemic yet," he said.
Cariaga also slammed Lorenza for being "hypocritical" that the abrogation was meant to protect the institution and students.
"In fact, in the recent years and decades, the biggest threat to the security of 'iskolars ng bayan' and rest of community members outside of UP has always been state forces, who for the longest time red-tagged, terror-tagged, conducted surveillance on and intimidation attempts against these student leaders," he said.
"If you are going to talk safety, DND Lorenzana, we challenge you to look at yourself, to look at your own state forces because these are the very people who are conducting attacks against youth and student leaders, and community members."