House OKs bill institutionalizing UP-DND Accord on final reading

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2021 10:55 PM

UP Oblation in UP Diliman ABS-CBN News
The UP Oblation in UP Diliman, November 27, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Without opposition, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on final reading House Bill 10171 or the act institutionalizing the 1989 University of the Philippines-Department of National Defense Accord.

Under the bill, unwarranted entry of state security forces into all UP campuses in the country is prohibited and the right of procedural due process of its students, staff and faculty will be protected.

The rights of UP faculty members, students and staff to take part in protest actions are also safeguarded under the measure to avoid harassment and intimidation from the police and military.

Based on a copy uploaded by the Philippine Collegian, here are some of the contents of the 1989 accord:

  • The military or police shall give prior notice to the school administration before conducting operations in any of the UP campuses
  • No military or police shall enter the premises of any of the UP campuses “except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency.”
  • The military or police will be allowed to enter UP campuses in case the school administration requests for their assistance
  • The military or police “shall not interfere with peaceful protest actions by UP constituents within UP premises.”
  • The service of search or arrest warrants on any UP student, faculty, employee or invited participants in any official UP activity shall, as far as practicable, be done after prior notification is given to the UP President, Chancellor of the constituent university, or Dean of the concerned regional unit.
  • No warrant shall be served without the presence of at least 2 UP faculty members designated by the appropriate UP official.
  • The arrest or detention of any UP student, faculty or personnel anywhere in the Philippines shall be reported immediately by the responsible head of the military or police unit effecting the arrest or detention to the university official.
  • No UP student, faculty or employee shall be subjected to custodial investigation without prior notice to the school administration.
  • A joint monitoring group composed of the UP Faculty Regent, UP Student Regent, UP Vice President for Public Affairs or [their] representative, UP Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and military and police officials shall meet at least twice a year to determine compliance with the accord.
  • Nothing in the agreement “shall be constructed as a prohibition against the enforcement of the laws of the land.”

Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago welcomed the approval.

“This is a win for democracy. Ipinapakita nito ang mariing pagkundena at pagtutol ng mga iskolar ng bayan at kabataan nang bigla na lamang makaisang panig na putulin ng DND ang UP-DND Accord. Isa ito sa mga patunay na hindi nakalilimot sa kasaysayan ang mga kabataan!" she said in a statement.

“Mahalaga ito upang hindi na maulit ang mga nakaraang abuso at paglabag sa karapatan, matiyak ang pananagutan, at magpadala ng malinaw na mensahe na dapat matigil na ang mga nararanasang atake ng UP at education stakeholders sa kasalukuyan."

The House will submit the bill to the Senate.

Last January 15, the Department of National Defense terminated its long-time agreement with the university. 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 accord.

The agreement was signed in 1989 between then-UP President Jose Abueva and then-Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos, establishing guidelines on military and police operations inside the university. 

The abrogation, thus, allows state authorities to enter UP campuses at any time. 

Critics have said the move was meant to stifle academic freedom and political dissent.

Lorenzana had defended his decision, saying the abrogation will ensure the safety of UP students after some of them were supposedly been identified as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army.

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

— Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

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