Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Gilbert Gapay said at 18 students from the University of the Philippines students who joined the New People’s Army have been killed in encounters with the military and police.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier that he is open to discussing the abrogation of the UP-DND accord with UP if the university leadership could explain why its students were among those killed in encounters between the New People’s Army rebels and the government forces.
Gapay said the university had become a recruitment base for the NPA.
“Per AFP records, at least 18 UP students who were recruited by the NPA perished in skirmishes with government security forces. And this deadly recruitment has to stop,” Gapay said.
“[They] can no longer lurk in the university as they did before knowing that the AFP cannot enter the campuses without prior consent of the school administrators,” he added.
The UP-DND accord has banned the military and the police inside the university since the 1970s.
“We cannot remain bound by an agreement that dictates that we have to seek permission before we can enter UP campuses. We should not be tied to a covenant that requires prior notice before we can effect arrests or searches even if the courts have issued the warrants,” Gapay said.
18 UP students killed in encounters with gov’t forces – Gapay
“We are confident however that the voiding of the agreement will bring about an opportunity. As a way forward, we will pursue a more collaborative relationship between UP —and other universities for that matter— to usher the rebirth of schools and state universities that are bastions of genuine patriotism and not of misguided activism,” he added.
The AFP official also called for the equal protection clause of the Constitution, saying only UP benifitted under the agreement.
“The fact that only UP enjoys such privileges under the voided agreement violates the Equal Protection Clause under the Constitution. There is no substantial distinction between UP and other schools, state colleges, and universities,” Gapay said.
“To give to UP such entitlement places it an unfairly advantaged status over the academic institutions and defies that Constitutional guarantee of equality of rights and protection under our laws,” he added.
Aside from UP, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines also has an agreement with the DND when it comes to the entry of police and soldiers into the university.