Senator files bill to institutionalize 'academic freedom' in state universities and colleges


Posted at Jan 26 2021 06:26 PM

Senator files bill to institutionalize 'academic freedom' in state universities and colleges 1
A security guard lowers the Philippine flag as the sun sets at the University of the Philippines Oblation fountain in Diliman, Quezon City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Monday filed a bill that would institutionalize "academic freedom" amid concerns of "militarization" in some state colleges and universities’ (SUC) due to the government's anti-insurgency drive.

Pangilinan filed Senate Bill 2016 or the "Academic Freedom Act of 2021," which seeks to "strengthen and uphod the freedom of teachers and students to teach, study and pursue knowledge and research without unreasonable interference or restriction, in all state universities and colleges."

The proposed law would give the SUC administration the "primary responsibility" to ensure order in their campus, among them the granting of permission to allow the entry of uniformed personnel in their compound.

"[I]n case the request for assistance is granted, only uniformed personnel with proper identification shall be allowed entry into the SUC, except where the assistance requested specifies otherwise," Pangilinan's bill stated.

Serving of search or arrest warrants against SUC student or faculty or employee should also be coordinated first to the SUC official.

Once enacted into law, offenders may face administrative liability.

Pangilinan filed the bill on the heels of the Department of National Defense's unilateral termination last Jan. 15 of a decades-old agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP), which prohibits state forces from conducting operations inside the state university’s campuses without prior notice to the school administration.

Quezon City 6th District Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte also filed in the House of Representatives a bill seeking to institutionalize all SUCs as "freedom spaces."

Belmonte filed House Bill No. 8443, or the Academic Freedom Act of 2021, last Jan. 21. It aims to declare SUCs as "freedom spaces where academic freedom is guaranteed."

Other senators have also filed a bill seeking to institutionalize the 1989 DND-UP Accord.

Senators Joel Villanueva, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay and Grace Poe filed last Jan. 20 Senate Bill No. 2002, which seeks to amend the UP Charter to include guidelines on military and police operations inside the university, similar to the ones under the Abueva-Ramos Accord.

The DND cited alleged recruitment in UP campuses into the communist insurgency movement as its reason for abrogating the agreement. Officials and members of the UP community denied the allegation.

–With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News


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