MANILA - The 1989 accord between the Department of National Defense and the University of the Philippines that bars state force inside campuses was borne out of an agreement to promote peace and order, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights said Wednesday.
"That accord was a product of a consensus between both parties that we must be responsible, that we must be watchdogs to ensure that there is peace and order and stability, the rights of the academic actors in the university are respected," ex-CHR chief Etta Rosales told ANC's Headstart.
"That is the starting point. So why do you unilaterally terminate a consensus, an agreement that enhances democratic rule? That upholds the rule of law and constitutional provisions for stability?" she said.
Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana has sent a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion notifying him of the unilateral abrogation of the decades-long agreement that requires prior notification before police and military personnel can enter and conduct operations in the state university's campuses.
For Rosales, the termination is "dangerous because it’s very arbitrary and deliberate."
"It has a shameless disregard for the rule of law. We’re talking about the Constitution," she said.
The presence of military personnel in UP campuses is a violation of the students' rights, she said.
"The military has no business being in an academic community. The military belongs to the barracks. The military belongs to the field where it has to perform its duties. It has no business being in an academic community because it has no role to play in the community," she said.
Rosales said the UP leadership must dialogue with Lorenzana about this, and if the defense chief refuses, the matter could be brought to the Supreme Court.