Defense chief to UP: Explain deaths of students in NPA encounters, then we'll talk

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2021 12:07 PM

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana answers questions during the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on Department of National Defense and its attached agencies 2017 budget held at the Senate in Pasay City, Oct. 11, 2016. Joseph Vidal, PRIB/file

MANILA - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday asked the University of the Philippines to explain the deaths of its students in government operations against communist rebels before agreeing to discuss the unilateral abrogation of its accord.

This, as a "number of casualties in military operations against the NPA" were UP students, Lorenzana said. 

Government records "suggest that communist and terrorist groups have surreptitiously embedded themselves inside UP and are recruiting university students into their illegal organization under cover of the agreement," he told reporters Wednesday.

"They died under the false ideology that violence is the answer to ills of our society. This is a fact that no amount of denial form the communist movement and their front organizations can counter," he said.

UP President Danilo Concepcion earlier urged the Department of Defense to "reconsider and revoke" its decision to terminate the parties' agreement, which required notification before the entry of state forces on campus grounds.

"I’m willing to talk to him (Concepcion) pero sagutin muna nila kung bakit namatay itong mga taong ito kasama ng NPA. This is a list of students of UP from all UP campuses na namatay during encounters with the Armed Forces. Explain to me, bakit nangyari ito sa kanila? Why did they fail to protect these young kids in joining this organization? As a parent, I really feel sad for these kids. If they can explain that, we’ll talk. If not, then forget it."

(I’m willing to talk to him but he should explain first why all these students died with the NPA. This is a list of students of UP from all UP campuses who died during encounters with the Armed Forces. Explain to me, why did this happen to them?)

Lorenzana earlier said the premier state university had become a "safe haven for enemies of the state."

Lorenzana also denied that the agency would "militarize" UP campuses and said he "made it clear" to Concepcion that government does not intend to deploy police and military inside university grounds.

"Out of all campuses in the Philippines, ang dami namang universities dito, wala naman silang ganyang agreement. How come they will equate the abrogation of this contract na imimilitarize namin ang UP. No, this is equal protection of law," he said.

(Out of all campuses in the Philippines, other universities does not have the same agreement. How come they will equate the abrogation of this contract that we will militarize UP?)

"Kung ano ang tinatamasa ng isa na kalayaan or privileges should be enjoyed by all. Only UP has this kind of agreement. What makes UP so special to have this kind of treatment?"

(The privileges or freedom enjoyed by one should be enjoyed by all.)

UP is the country's premiere state university and has produced national scientists, artists, corporate leaders, business innovators, among others. As a national university, UP "has the right and responsibility to exercise academic freedom," and is mandated to "harness the expertise of the members of its community and other individuals to regularly study the state of the nation in relation to its quest for national development in the primary areas of politics and economics, among others."

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