MANILA - The House of Representatives, on second reading, approved House Bill 10171 or the act institutionalizing the 1989 University of the Philippines-Department of National Defense Accord Wednesday.
According to its congressional fact sheet, the bill seeks to prevent the unwarranted intrusion of state security forces into all UP campuses in the country and ensure that the right to procedural due process is accorded to students, staff and faculty are-protected.
It also seeks to protect UP campuses from possible police and military intervention, harassment and intimidation.
Likewise, it seeks to protect the rights of faculty, students and staff to take part in peaceful protest actions.
The fact sheet lists the following key provisions:
- The bill mandates that prior notification shall be given by the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or any other law enforcement agency intending to conduct police, military or law enforcement operation in any University campus nationwide to the President or the Chancellor of the constituent university or the Dean of the regional unit concerned or the respective officers-in-charge when the situation so warrants.
- The bill would ban members of the PNP, AFP or other law enforcement agencies from entering the premises of any of the University campuses or regional units, except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions or emergencies, or whenever requested by law enforcers.
- It mandates University UP officials, whenever requested by law enforcers, to extend the necessary assistance in law enforcement within the premises of the UP campuses.
- It prohibits subjecting any student, faculty member or employee to custodial investigation without prior notice to the University President or Chancellor of the constituent university or Dean of the regional unit concerned or their respective officers-in-charge, except in the presence of the counsel of choice of the student, faculty or employee or with the assistance of counsel appointed for them by the said UP-officials.
- It mandates that the service of search or arrest warrants within the territorial jurisdiction of any University UP-campus or on any UP— student, faculty, employee, or invited participants in any activities in the University UP, as far as practicable, to be done after prior notification is given to the President or Chancellor of the constituent university, or Dean of the regional unit concerned or their respective officers-in-charge and the same requirement of notification applies to any oral or written invitation for questioning or similar purposes.
- It prohibits members of the PNP, AFP or any other law enforcement agencies from interfering with peaceful protest actions by individuals or groups within University premises
- It mandates University officials and officials of security forces in the campuses such as the Campus Security Group, to strive to coordinate closely, efficiently and harmoniously with the PNP to ensure the safety of the students, faculty members and employees of the UP-community, and residents of the campuses
- It mandates University security forces such as the-Campus Security Group, to engage in joint training, sharing of information and resources with the PNP to combat crime and to help ensure law and order in the campuses.
- It requires security forces in the campuses, such as the Campus Security Group to report, as soon as possible, all crimes committed within the campuses to the PNP and render its necessary assistance to ensure the prosecution of criminals.
- It mandates school administrators to regularly procure modern crime prevention devices such as closed-circuit television cameras for installation in the streets and other locations in the said campuses.
- It establishes a Joint Monitoring Group composed of the Undersecretary of National Defense for Civilian Relations, AFP Judge Advocate General or the duly designated representative, PNP Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, PNP Director of the Civil Security Group, Vice President for Public Affairs or the duly designated representative, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs, Faculty Regent, Staff Regent, and Student Regent, who shall meet at least twice a year to ensure and determine compliance with the provisions of this Act.
- It mandates that any public official or employee, whether holding office or employment in a casual, temporary, holdover, permanent or regular capacity, who violates any provision of this Act shall be punished with a fine equivalent to a minimum of twenty-four (24) months' salary or suspension for a minimum of two (2) years or removal from office or employment depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and hearing by the appropriate body or agency.
The House will vote on the bill on final reading in three days.
In January 15, 2021, the Department of National Defense terminated its long-time agreement with UP that requires prior notification before police and military personnel can enter and conduct operations in the state university's campuses.
The UP Office of the Student Regent and the Philippine Collegian posted a photo of a letter sent by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to UP President Danilo Concepcion, notifying the latter about the "unilateral termination" of the UP-DND Accord.
In the letter, Lorenzana said the department was terminating the 1989 agreement to ensure the safety of UP students after some of them were supposedly identified as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army.