House panel approves UP Charter amendments

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 02 2021 09:51 PM

House panel approves UP Charter amendments 1
The University of Philippines Diliman campus. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The House committee on higher and technical education on Wednesday approved the panel report on the substitute bill that would amend Section 11 of Republic Act 9500 or the University of the Philippines (UP) Charter of 2008.

The bill would institutionalize the 1989 UP-Department of National Defense (DND) Accord into the UP Charter.

The measure, which was approved subject to style and amendments by the panel, substituted House Bill 8437 authored by Deputy Speaker Eduardo Villanueva, HB 8515 by Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, and HB 8545 by KABATAAN Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.

Among the proposed amendments to the law was the provision stating that “prior notification should be given by the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), or any other law enforcement agency intending to conduct any police, military, or law enforcement operation in any UP campus nationwide to the UP President or the Chancellor of the constituent university or dean of the college concerned, or the respective officer-in-charge, in the event of their absence, as the case may be, when the situation so warrants.”

It also prohibits the entry of AFP, PNP and other law enforcers in all UP campuses except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency. 

The arrest or detention of any incumbent UP student, faculty or personnel anywhere in the Philippines shall be reported immediately to the UP president or chancellor of the constituent university or dean of the college concerned or their respective officers in charge. 

No UP student, faculty or employee shall be subjected to custodial investigation without notice to the UP president or chancellor, it said.

Law enforcers are also prohibited from interfering with peaceful protest actions by individuals or groups within UP premises.

At the Senate, several senators have also filed bills seeking to institutionalize the 1989 UP-DND Accord.

Department of National Defense (DND) legal counsel Norma Daanoy, meanwhile, told the committee the DND does not back the whole bill, citing constitutional questions on the measure.

Representatives of various youth groups last month urged lawmakers to swiftly approve the measures seeking to institutionalize the accord.

In January, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana unilaterally terminated the accord, which he said has been used by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army as a "shield" to recruit UP students.

Professors emeriti or retired faculty members of UP castigated his move, while other critics of the abrogation have said the move was meant to stifle academic freedom and political dissent.

Meanwhile, the House panel also approved the committee report on HB 9321, which seeks to establish a College of Medicine in President Ramon Magsaysay State University in Iba, Zambales.

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