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DND ends pact with UP banning soldiers, cops on campus

The Department of National Defense has unilaterally terminated its 31-year-old agreement with the University of Philippines banning the entry into the university of military and police forces if they have no prior coordination with UP officials.

In a letter dated January 15, 2021, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana informed UP President Danilo Concepcion of the DND's decision to end the agreement, citing information that communists are recruiting students inside UP campuses.

"In pursuit of true national peace and development, it is time to terminate or aborgate the existing agreement with the end view if protecting and securing the institution and youth against the enemies of the Filipino people without sacrificing the freedoms we have preserved for about 30 years since the agreement was executed," Lorenzana said.

The accord, which was hatched under the first Aquino administration in June 1989, provided that the military and the police were prohibited from entering the premises of any UP campus or its regional units without prior notice to the UP administration.

Lorenzana said the pact was hindering the DND in providing “effective security, safety and welfare” of the students, faculty, and employees of UP.

He said recent events indicated that a number of UP students have been identified as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) and claimed some of them were killed during military and police operations, while others were captured and surrendered to the authorities.

“These UP students were recruited by the CPP/NPA, an organization declared by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as a terrorist organization,” the letter read.

Lorenzana said the DND was aware of the supposed “clandestine recruitment” inside UP campuses nationwide by the CPP/NPA and that the accord was being used as “a shield or propaganda."

“By reason of national security and safety of UP students, this department intends to remedy this situation by terminating or abrogating the existing agreement in order for us to perform our legal mandate of protecting our youth against CPP/NPA recruitment activities whose design and purpose is to destroy the democracy we have all fought for,” Lorenzana said.

“We do not intend to station military or police inside UP campuses nor do we wish to suppress activist groups, academic freedom and freedom of expression. The Department of National Defense has nothing to gain from suppressing their rights and freedoms but will only alienate it further from the people,” he added.

Further, Lorenzana said the Armed Forces and police were willing to reach out to the youth and “provide them with another perspective” on the nation and society. -NB, GMA News