/ 13 February 2021

THE UNIVERSITY of the Philippines-Diliman council appealed for the restoration of the agreement between the university and the Department of National Defense that was unilaterally scrapped in January.

The council also called for a stop to the government’s campaign of red-tagging members of the community.

“Academic freedom is a precondition for the university to fulfill its mission of pursuing and disseminating knowledge. It allows UP faculty, students, and staff to discuss, debate, and challenge ideas without fear of being silenced or punished,” it said in a statement on Thursday, February 11.

The University Council is the highest policy-making body of each UP-Constituent University. It is composed of the chancellor, professors, associate professors, and assistant professors of the autonomous campus. The chancellor serves as the chairman and the registrar as the secretary.

The council decried the abrogation of the agreement and the branding of UP faculty, students, and staff as “enemies of the state”.

They said that academic freedom enables “an intellectual environment” where members of the community are exposed to “a wide range of philosophical, political, or even religious perspectives.”

“It enables us to explore, to question and to propound alternatives, to discern right from wrong, and to take responsibility for our choices. It allows us to not only produce qualified and competent graduates across disciplines but also to function as social critics pursuing evidence-based scholarship to contribute to nation-building,” the council said.

Without academic freedom, it said the university would be unable to fulfill its mission and will be incapable of upholding values of academic excellence and honor.

The council also stressed that red-tagging is “a baseless labeling of people, organizations, and institutions meant to silence critics and stifle dissent.”

“We therefore call on Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, as a sign of good faith, to immediately restore the UP-DND Agreement. We urge the DND to ensure that its elements, especially members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, ceases from red-tagging members of the UP community and take concrete steps to hold accountable those who have red-tagged members of the community,” it said.