Various student councils from the University of the Philippines denounced the move of the Department of National Defense to end its 31-year-old agreement with UP regarding the prohibition on the entry of police and military in its campuses.
They maintained that the DND's decision was an attack on academic freedom as well as on freedom of speech.
"This goes against the decades of the student and people's defense against the violation of our academic freedom, our right to study, speak, and investigate on social issues without the risk of political persecution and human rights violation," the UP Los Baños Student Council said.
The UPLB Student Council is calling on the UP administration "to stay true to its commitment of protecting academic freedom by denouncing this act and deny any police or military entry."
The student council also urged other groups and individuals to also condemn DND's move of blatantly disregarding the decades of fighting for academic freedom, noting that fascists will never be allowed in their campus.
"It is in this light that we view the unilateral rescission of the 1989 UP-DND accord as an assault against the freedom...Posted by University of the Philippines Los Baños on Monday, January 18, 2021
UP Visayas Student Council, for its part, stressed that while the agreement is in limbo, the entire Philippines is in danger of losing its only safe space for citizens to speak up freely.
The move aims to dissuade critics and dissidents from stirring the people to speak up against the Duterte administration's favor, the UP Visayas Student Council said.
"With the accord in limbo and the Anti-Terrorism Law in place, the University is expecting more attacks and harassment by the state forces anytime soon," it said.
"Claiming that they are terminating the accord under baseless and unsubstantiated grounds is a blatant insult to not only UP constituents, but also to every Filipino citizen experiencing injustices committed by the fascist Duterte administration," it added.
'No to militarization'
The UP Diliman Student Council criticized the move, saying that instead of addressing the issues of learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the DND supposedly chose to attempt to militarize the University.
"Mag-iisang taon nang sadlak sa kawalan ng de-kalidad at aksesibleng edukasyon ang kabataan dulot ng korap at pahamak na tugon ng rehimeng Duterte sa pandemya—at ngayong wala pang harapang klase ay sinamantala ito ng rehimen upang militarisahin ang ating unibersidad," it said.
The council also denounced the Duterte administration, calling it a fascist regime.
#DefendUP: Opisyal na pahayag ng Konseho ng Mag-aaral ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Diliman hinggil sa tangkang...Posted by UP Diliman University Student Council on Monday, January 18, 2021
The UP Manila Student Council said the unilateral termination of the accord was even amplified with the implementation of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law.
"When the state has exhibited unrelenting disrespect for human rights, our trust rests anywhere but the very institutions supposed to protect us," it said.
It stressed that while President Rodrigo Duterte and his supposed "lackeys" are still in position, the security of the country will never be guaranteed. The council encouraged the entire UP community to resist the DND's action.
"We must also remember that no agreement nor law could outweigh the collective struggle of the masses in advancing our democratic rights. And as we resist the DND’s advances, our struggle to unseat Duterte continues," the UP Manila Student Council said.
Uphold the UP-DND Accord! Defend UP! The UP Manila University Student Council rejects the recent move of the Department...Posted by UP Manila University Student Council on Monday, January 18, 2021
For the UP Baguio Student Council, the public should not rely on the words of the state forces as the council believes that they are allegedly the perpetrators of human rights violations in the country.
"This unilateral agreement is an insult to the decades-long struggle of students before and today for our right to education and safe spaces in our university," it said.
The council also said the lives of students and University officials and personnel were put at risk whenever the police and the military linked them to communist groups.
It also challenged UP president Danilo Concepcion as well as other University officials "to uphold students' democratic rights by refusing the unilateral agreement and its grave implications."
UPHOLD UP-DND ACCORD [STATEMENT AGAINST THE DND'S UNILATERAL TERMINATION OF THE UP-DND ACCORD] In a letter addressed...Posted by UP Baguio University Student Council on Monday, January 18, 2021
Meanwhile, the UP Mindanao Student Council said the termination of the agreement only intensifies red-tagging and is based on false accusations.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the pact was unilaterally terminated as it was already obsolete and that UP has supposedly become a safe haven for the enemy of the state.
"The DND’s statement on 'not intending to station military or police inside UP campuses nor do we wish to suppress activist groups, academic freedom, and freedom of expression' is nothing but an empty promise and a hypocritical lie. Multiple public demonstrations are violently attempted to be silenced and police outposts are already seen within UP campuses," the UP Mindanao Student Council said.
"The DND’s statement on 'wanting us to see the Armed Forces and Police as protectors worthy of trust, not fear,' all while they commit injustices, police brutality, extrajudicial killings, and worst of all, red-tagging and false accusations is a blatant lie, and does not intend to uphold their mandate of serving the masses and the common good,'" it added.
The council believed that the termination would just result in more violence.
DEFEND UP! STOP THE ATTACKS! The UP Mindanao Student Council vehemently condemns the termination of the UP- DND Accord...Posted by UP Mindanao University Student Council on Monday, January 18, 2021
Concepcion has appealed to the DND to reconsider their decision, adding that it would be better if DND and UP officials will have a discussion on the issue. — BM, GMA News