MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo said Tuesday the administration's move to unilaterally abrogate its accord with the University of the Philippines on the entry of state forces was designed to "sow fear."
Robredo said the 1989 agreement requiring government to inform UP before its personnel enters university grounds was "neither a difficult nor onerous rule," adding that five Presidents have "managed to protect both the UP community and the Republic without breaking it."
She noted the accord was forged in the aftermath of a warrantless arrest of a staff member of the Philippine Collegian, the UP student paper, in front of Vinzons’ Hall, the student center, by operatives of the military.
"Clearly, then, this is not a practical gesture, but a symbolic one. One designed to sow fear. One designed to discourage dissent. One designed to silence criticism," she said in a statement.
"The unilateral scrapping of the decades-old Accord sends the opposite message: That under this administration, anyone, anywhere, at anytime, is fair game."
The Vice President added that the accord aims "not to exempt UP or its community from any law" but to send the message that "law enforcement was conducted following clear rules, within defined limits."
"That in a democracy, there was no place for relentless war waged across all borders, without oversight or accountability, against any person those in power had decided to brand 'an enemy,'" she said.
"It is now up to us to decide whether we will give in. Or whether, at long last, we will stand our ground and speak out. In this, my faith remains firm, we will find our courage and do what needs to be done."
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the accord was unilaterally terminated as the university has become a "safe haven for enemies of the state."
The UP administration earlier denied President Rodrigo Duterte's claims that it recruits students to join the communist insurgency.