By LUISA SANDOVAL
MANILA — A network of members of the UP community and supporters said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was “escaping institutional accountability” when he said that the accord which prohibits the military and police forces from entering the university grounds will never be restored under the Duterte administration.
In a recent media interview, Lorenzana said that “after much scrutiny and study,” their department no longer covers the university as such function has long been delegated to the Philippine police. The military accord between UP and the Department of National Defense (DND) was unilaterally abrogated by the Philippine government earlier this year.
Defend UP Network assailed this, saying that, “rather than listen to all the valid criticisms, DND continues to brush aside the damning evidence against them by escaping institutional accountability.”
The UP-DND accord is considered a historical victory as it was signed two weeks after the June 1989 abduction of UP student and staff of the Philippine Collegian Donato Continente for his supposed involvement in the assassination of US Army Colonel James Nicholas Rowe two months prior. He was released 14 years later, and revealed he was tortured to admit the crime.
Read: What makes The Accord special?
As such, the accord has since prohibited military and police personnel within all UP campuses. The unilateral cancellation of this agreement, which also coincided with the intensified red-tagging of UP students and faculty members, has been met with protest actions earlier this year.
Lorenzana said he did not pursue the dialogue with UP President Danilo Concepcion, adding that it would just be rendered moot and academic. He instead told UP to talk to the Department of Interior Local Government.
“If they remove academic freedom by any means possible, UP will lose its relevance,” UP President Danilo Concepcion said in Filipino during a protest action in January.
Leading to the cancellation of this accord, members of the All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU) received death threats in 2019. There were also eight students arrested inside the UP Cebu campus at the height of the protest actions against the then-looming passing of the terror law in June 2020.
Lorenzana, too, has red-tagged several of students, saying that the accord was being used as a “shield” from law enforcers. He, however, did not provide evidence.
The UP Network said, “these agencies continue to malign academic freedom and freedom of speech of members of the UP Community under the pretense of anti-terror and anti-insurgency campaigns without substantial evidence, thus endangering the lives of those who are under their list of suspected individuals.”