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Students protest termination of UP-DND accord

 

BY JOSEPH PEDRAJAS, JEFFREY DAMICOG, MARTIN SADONGDONG

 

 

up University_of_The_Philippines_seal.svg copy

An indignation rally was held Tuesday inside the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus against the supposed “state terror,” following the unilateral abrogation of the Department of National Defense’s (DND) accord with the university.

DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s move to end its accord with UP, which prohibits state forces from entering UP campuses, was not welcomed by the community as shouts of “Defend, Defend, Defend UP” filled the air of Quezon Hall.

UP Student Regent Renee Co led the students and other members of progressive groups that pushed to “uphold UP-DND accord,” which she said, was the product of the many sacrifices and works of university leaders.

Tuesday’s rally drew a crowd, including UP President Danilo Concepcion and UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nimenzo.

Concepcion, in a statement, said the UP community “regret[s] that the agreement was abrogated unilaterally, without prior consultation that would have addressed the concerns raised in Lorenzana’s letter.

He said that “instead of instilling confidence in our police and military,” the Defense department’s decision can “only sow more confusion and mistrust, given that” it has not specified what it is that it exactly aims “to do or put in place in lieu of the protections and courtesies afforded by the agreement.”

Concepcion, in his speech during the rally, said that some could not understand the importance of the accord, which in fact gives freedom to students and their professors to think and speak “creatively.”

 

ENEMIES’ SAFE HAVEN

Lorenzana, however, defended his decision, claiming UP has become a “safe haven” for enemies of the State.

“The agreement has become obsolete. The times and circumstances have changed since the agreement was signed in 1989, three years after the martial law ended. The agreement was a gesture of courtesy accorded to UP upon the University’s request,” Lorenzana said.

The Defense Chief claimed that the accord is being used by members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA) as a shield to recruit students inside UP campuses.

Nimenzo, meanwhile, called on the UP community to defend the university as a safe space for free speech and academic freedom.

On Monday night, #DefendUP started to trend on Twitter and reached some 91,400 tweets overnight.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers, however, warned that the government will be facing repercussions over DND’s decision.

“The maelstrom of yet another imprudent misadventure into basic rights will boomerang on those that do not know when to stop,” National Union of People’s Lawyers President Edre Olalia said in a statement.

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Written by Tempo Desk

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