Even with the scrapping of the Department of National Defense-University of the Philippines (DND-UP) Agreement of 1989, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday students and activist groups against the government can hold their rallies inside without fear of interference from security forces.
“Anong gagawin namin? (What we will do?) Wala (Nothing). They can shout their lungs to high heavens. They can put in graffitis around UP. Wala kaming pakialam dun (It is not our concern),” he said in an online press conference.
At the same briefing, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the abrogation of the 31-year-old agreement with the UP does not mean an “impairment of their freedom of speech, of assembly, or redress of grievances.”
He said this was demonstrated by the fact that the activist and student groups immediately held a rally once Lorenzana’s statement abrogating the DND-UP Agreement of 1989 came out.
“May nakita ba kayo na hinuli sa kanila? (Did you see anyone arrested?) They shouted out to high heavens, (they conducted) protests, demonstrations, wala naman nanghuli sa kanila (nobody tried to arrest them). It’s because so long as you’re doing it within what is legal, what is allowed, what is protected, and we are there to protect you even to ensure that you exercise these liberties,” Arevalo said.
He noted the abrogation of the agreement is not a curtailment of academy freedom, does not impair their freedom of expression, their right to freedom of assembly, and their right to seek grievances.
“The abrogation of this agreement even if done unilaterally does not violate any obligations and contracts or provisions of agreement. And finally, this is not an attack against UP or any other academic institutions. As a matter of fact, this is an act to protect and to ensure na ang ating mga eskwelahan (that our schools) and atin mga kabataan (our youth) ay hindi mapapasok ng mga terorista na malinaw na malinaw na binanggit ng atin butihing Kalihim ng Tanggulan Bansa (will not be infiltrated by terrorists mentioned by our Secretary of National Defense),” Arevalo said.
Earlier, Lorenzana terminated the DND-UP 1989 Agreement that requires prior notice be given by the AFP, then Philippine Constabulary, or the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit intending to conduct military or police operations in any of the UP campuses, to the University President, the Chancellor of the constituent university, or the Dean of the regional unit concerned, or their respective officers-in-charge in the event of their absence, when the situation so warrants.
Exceptions to the said requirement include hot pursuit cases and ordinary transit.
In abrogating the agreement on January 15, Lorenzana called the arrangement “obsolete”.
He also said the agreement was used by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to turn UP into a breeding ground of “intransigent individuals and groups whose extremist beliefs have inveigled students to join their ranks to fight against the government.” (PNA)