MANILA - Officials of the University of the Philippines are willing to explain and iron out issues and concerns brought up by the Department of National Defense, following its unilateral abrogation of the 1989 accord with the university.
Dr. Elena Pernia, UP Vice President for Public Affairs, said the institution has yet to receive any notice from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana or the DND to explain the university's side.
Pernia, however, clarified that the university is ready to have a discussion with the DND regarding these issues.
"Pero kami naman sa UP, handang handa kaming maupo at makipag-usap kay Secretary Lorenzana tungkol doon sa mga issue, mga concerns na na-raise," Pernia told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(We in UP are ready to sit down and discuss with Secretary Lorenzana regarding the issues and concerns he raised.)
Pernia added that, as a higher education institution, the university allows discussion on various political ideologies. This, however, does not mean that the university is involved in recruitment of students.
"Sa unibersidad, wala kang maririnig, through time, mula noon pa hanggang ngayon, na active recruitment na ginagawa ng aming unibersidad mismo," she explained, adding that academic freedom should be ensured in any educational institution.
(In the university, you won't hear any active recruitment by the university.)
Lorenzana on Wednesday asked UP 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.
According to Pernia, they do not have the numbers of supposed students and alumni of UP that joined the rebels.
"Sa totoo lamang eh, itong mga namatay, mga estudyante at alumni na sinabi niya, at hindi naman alam ang bilang na hawak-hawak niya kung ilang nga ba 'yang mga 'yan, hindi naman kami ang naghikayat para sumali," she said.
(In fact, those students and alumni who supposedly died, we don't know the exact numbers that they have, we are not the ones who told them to join [the communist movement].)
The UP administration earlier denied accusations by President Rodrigo Duterte that it recruited students to join the communist insurgency.
Duterte made the allegation as he threatened to defund the state university for supposedly calling for an academic strike against the administration's alleged negligence in responding to disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, mistaking it for students from the Ateneo de Manila University.
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."