No need to legislate accords between schools, state forces: CHED chair

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2021 11:58 AM | Updated as of Jan 25 2021 12:00 PM

Commission on Higher Education Prospero de Vera. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA – Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera said Monday it was unnecessary to legislate accords between universities and state forces as such agreements can be discussed by both parties.

“You don't need to legislate it. This can be agreed upon between administrators of universities and security forces in all universities, both public and private,” De Vera told ABS-CBN News Channel.

De Vera’s statement comes after 4 senators last week filed a bill seeking to amend the University of the Philippines (UP) Charter of 2008 so it could include guidelines on police and military operations, similar to the ones in the 1989 accord between UP and the Department of National Defense (DND).

On Jan. 15, the DND unilaterally terminated the accord, arguing that it has been used a “shield” by the New People’s Army to conduct on-campus recruitment in UP.

De Vera said legislation on accords between universities and security officials “should be grounded on a consensus on what is meant by academic freedom.”

“I hope that if they do try to legislate it, the group of eminent persons I am putting together would have already constructed an acceptable definition so that we can help in the work of Congress,” he said.

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Last week, De Vera said he would form a panel of experts to “define the meaning of academic freedom and the role of security forces in the protection of academic freedom and the welfare of students.”

The CHED chief also said accords between universities and security officials “must be put in very detailed operational guidelines” and have to be “adjusted consistent to changing times.”

“Agreements are always reached within a period and… the situation they have changed, and therefore elements of the accord may need to be adjusted,” he said.

Under the accord, the police and military are prohibited from conducting operations inside UP campuses without prior notification to the university administration.

On Sunday, Lorenzana said he asked for a meeting with UP President Danilo Concepcion over the abrogation of the accord.