MANILA – Several students and faculty members of the University of the Philippines on Thursday urged the school’s highest governing body to uphold a decades-old agreement with the Department of National Defense (DND) that regulates police and military operations on schoo grounds.
Members of the UP community gathered at the Diliman campus in Quezon City to call on the Board of Regents (BOR) to adopt a resolution authored by the student, faculty and staff regents, which instructs the state university’s policy-making body to “uphold and fortify the UP-DND Accord.”
The BOR is set to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss the DND's unilateral abrogation of the accord.
“’Yong UP po ay isa sa mga natitirang napakaliit na espasyo na mayroon tayo kung saan kaya nating pag-usapan ang isyung panlipunan… nararapat lang na i-assert natin na mas paramihan pa nga ang ganitong spaces,” said Ken Valdez, a UP faculty member.
(UP is one of the remaining spaces where we are able to freely talk about social issues… it’s only right to assert that we should have more similar spaces.)
On Jan. 15, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana unilaterally terminated the deal, claiming that it was being used by the communist New People’s Army to freely conduct on-campus recruitment of UP students.
Critics of the abrogation, however, argued that the move was meant to stifle academic freedom and political dissent.
Carl Uba, a student leader at the state university, said students would continue to get involved in activism despite the abrogation.
“Kinikilala po natin ang papel ng aktibismo dahil dito po natin naihahayag ang ating mga ipinaglalaban, mga nakikita nating kamalian sa lipunan,” he said.
(We recognize the role of activism because that’s where we can express what we want to fight for and what we see wrong in society.)
If a student decides to become a communist rebel, it is a personal decision, he noted.
Lorenzana has asked for a meeting with UP President Danilo Concepcion to discuss the abrogation of the accord.