By Jun Nucum
The effort of the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) to scrap the 1989 UP-DND Accord was strongly denounced by the UP Alumni Association of San Francisco in California, USA (UPAA-SF).
In a statement, UPAA-SF said the accord signed by then UP President Jose Abueva and then DND Sec. Fidel Ramos has since “served to protect academic freedom and expression, preserved the key freedoms of non-entry of state forces into the campus and non-intervention in protests within the campus.”
This agreement was unilaterally scrapped after Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana wrote in his January 15 letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion that his office has decided to abrogate the agreement, which he said had been a “hindrance in providing effective security, safety, and welfare of the students, faculty, and employees of UP.”
Lorenzana added that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA), both tagged as terrorist organizations by the Anti-Terrorism Council, have been recruiting students inside the campus.
UPAA-SF President Sonia Delen reminded that academic freedom and expression are essential to make human and social advancement possible as guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution.
“This freedom made UP a sanctuary for diverse beliefs and expression, and as such, UP has produced some of the nation’s finest leaders. Sec. Lorenzana failed to give a clear explanation for the abrogation. It is clear to us, however, that the freedom afforded UP by the now nullified accord was no threat to the Philippine government or military,” said Delen.
For her part, UPAA-SF Board Chair Luisa Yee maintained that Lorenzana failed to give a clear explanation for the abrogation.
“It is clear to us, however, that the freedom afforded UP by the now nullified accord was no threat to the Philippine government or military. Rather, (it is a threat to) that freedom allowed UP to brilliantly contribute to the good of our nation. We stand with UP President Concepcion in calling for the continued support of UP’s thinkers and doers,” Yee stressed.
The UPAA-SF statement also urged to reflect on President Concepcion’s statement, “UP has bred rebels and non-conformists — as well as presidents, senators, congressmen, and business, civic, and even military leaders. All the world’s great universities have produced the same range of thinkers and doers. By and large, intellectual and political dissidents in UP have always been in the minority but it is a critical minority that has historically been vital to the maintenance of a healthy democracy.”
The 1989 accord was an offshoot of an incident inside the UP campus when a UP Collegian staff Donato Continente was abducted on the night of June 16, 1989 at Vinzons Hall and thereafter was allegedly tortured and forced to confess to the killing of American soldier Col. James Rowe.
Days later on June 30,1989 Abueva and Ramos signed the 1989 UP–DND Accord that required government law enforcement agencies to give prior notice before police and military entered UP campuses thus, establishing certain norms and protocols governing relations between the University and military and police forces.
Before this agreement was reached, there also was an earlier agreement, known as the Soto-Enrile Accord, signed in 1982 by student leader Sonia Soto and then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile also explicitly prohibiting the entry of police and military forces except on hot pursuit operations and emergency situations.
Earlier, UP alumni led by Vice-president Leni Robredo, former UP Student Council Chairman now Philippine Sen. Francis Pangilinan, and Sorsgon Gov. Francis Escudero issued statements lashing against the abrogation of the accord.
However, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Ronald Bato dela Rosa, both former Philippine National Police Chiefs, supported Lorenzana’s action.
UP earlier stated that at least 15 members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s cabinet were former UP students and there are also others actively serving in all branches of the Philippine government.
Secretaries Herminio ‘Harry’ Roque Jr., Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Leonor ‘Liling’ Magtolis-Briones, Fortunato ‘Boy’ dela Peña, CHEd Commissioner J. Prospero ‘Popoy’ de Vera III, Wendel Avisado, and Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr are either active or former members of UP faculty.
In a similar development, other big universities are also being targeted as alleged recruitment hot spots by CPP-NPA, issued a joint statement.
School administrators of Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, and Far Eastern University on January 24 blasted National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict’s (NFT-ELAC) Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade’s assertion describing it as “irresponsible and a mere re-hash of what he had alleged in 2018, which had visibly failed to materialize like this with no concrete evidence.”
In a statement posted by Ateneo on Twitter, the university administrators stressed, “We therefore object to Gen. Parlade’s statement and emphasize that our institutions neither promote nor condone recruitment activities of the New People’s Army and, indeed, of any movement that aims to violently overthrow government.”
Signatories of the joint statement were Fr. Roberto Yap of the Jesuit-run Ateneo, Bro. Raymundo Suplido of De La Salle Manila, Fr. Isaias Tiongco of University of Santo Tomas, and Dr. Michael Alba of Far Eastern University.
Their schools were among 18 Philippine universities that Parlade earlier named as being targeted for recruitment by the CPP-NPA in Senate hearings.
The Parlade list also included President Duterte’s law school alma mater San Beda University.