House approves bill on UP-DND accord
A bill institutionalizing the 1989 University of the Philippines (UP) - Department of National Defense (DND) accord into the UP Charter hurdled third reading approval at the House of Representatives, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.
During Tuesday's plenary session, the chamber overwhelmingly approved with 179 affirmative votes House Bill 10171, which seeks to amend Section 11 of Republic Act 9500 or the University of the Philippines Charter of 2008.
The bill seeks to prevent state security forces, such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), from entering and enforcing its operations in all UP campuses without prior notice to “the President or the Chancellor of the constituent university or the dean of the regional unit concerned” except “in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions or emergencies.”
It mandates university officials, whenever requested by law enforcers, to extend the necessary assistance in law enforcement within the premises of the UP campuses.
House Deputy Speaker Eddie Villanueva, a principal author of the bill, expressed hope that its enactment would foster “more youth idealism” in the country.
“In these dark times of the pandemic, what the country needs is an abundance of the youth’s ideas for national recovery. Young people, especially mga iskolar ng bayan, must be encouraged, not discouraged, to be more vocal, more visible, and more vigorously participative in the national discourse. An ailing nation needs more of the youth’s ideas and idealism, not less. More young people are speaking out, not less,” Villanueva said, noting that UP is a model of academic freedom to all educational institutions in the country.
“Its being one of the world’s best universities is owed to its culture of openness to diversity of beliefs, debate of opinions, and discussion of viewpoints," he said.
The bill shall prohibit subjecting any student, faculty member, or employee to custodial investigation without prior notice to the university president or chancellor of the constituent university or dean of the regional unit concerned.
Members of law enforcement agencies shall be prohibited from interfering with peaceful protest actions by individuals or groups within university premises.
The DND-UP Agreement, signed on June 30, 1989, prohibits the military and the police from entering all UP campuses without prior notice to its administration.
The agency decided to terminate the agreement effective Jan. 15, 2021, with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana calling the arrangement "obsolete".
Lorenzana said the agreement was used by the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to turn UP into the breeding ground of "intransigent individuals and groups whose extremist beliefs have inveigled students to join their ranks to fight against the government."
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
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