The Department of National Defense terminated the 1989 UP-DND accord yesterday, raising issues of protecting academic freedom.
In the 1970s, protest actions were held in protest of the Marcos regime’s policies at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City.
This often leads to violent dispersal by the authorities.
So in 1982, there was an agreement between the students led by Sonia Soto and then-Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile to ban the military and police inside the UP campus.
Despite this, a staff of the Philippine Collegian – Donato Continente – was abducted by civilian armed personnel inside UP.
Authorities accused him of killing an American soldier.
“Dinukot na lang siya basta-basta by armed men, civilians… talagang matindi ang torture,”
said Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and former lawyer arrested at UP.
Continente was jailed for 14 years but his abduction resulted in an agreement between UP and the Department of National Defense.
Under the agreement, authorities must notify UP leaders before they arrest, conduct a raid, or even enter the campus, except in certain situations such as the pursuit of a fleeing suspect.
Authorities should also not interfere in protest actions within UP.
“Kailangan nating ituro at ikintal sa isip ng mga estudyante ‘yung kahalagahan ng kritikal na pag-iisip,” said Danilo Arao, professor at UP College of Mass Communication.
History of the 1989 UP-DND accord
The UP-DND accord is what Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana wants to set aside.
But according to some lawyers and teachers at UP, this cannot be done lightly.
According to Demaree Raval, former general counsel of UP, the agreement has no exit clause.
“A unilateral termination is a no-no. I don’t know the effect of that… sa aming mga abogado, walang epekto ‘yan,” said Raval.
“What Sec Lorenzana should have done is to ask for the coordinating committee to convene and address his concerns,” he added.
According to Marichu Lambino, another lawyer who teaches at UP, the UP Charter of 2008 itself commands that the academic freedom of UP people should be respected.
“Kailangang mabigyan ang mga kabataan ng pagkakataon na mag-isip nang walang repression, nang walang militar,” said Sonia Soto, one of the signatories of the UP-DND accord.