/ 25 September 2021

THE COMMISSION on Human Rights commended the passage by the House of Representatives of a bill that seeks to institutionalize the security agreement between the University of the Philippines and Department of National Defense.

House Bill 10171 secured the support of 179 lawmakers.

The measure will amend Section 11 of Republic Act 9500 or the University of the Philippines Charter of 2008.

It prevents state security forces such as the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines from entering and conducting operations in any UP campus without prior notice.

It also limits the service of arrest and search warrants and prohibits interference with protests within the university premises.

Early this year, the DND abrogated its agreement with the university that banned the security forces from entering UP without permission.

“The overwhelming approval of HB 10171 at the House of Representatives sends a strong commitment of the State to respect people’s freedom to express dissent, protest, and exercise their academic freedom,” CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

“In the past, the UP-DND Accord has served to safeguard the constitutionally-recognized rights of University students, faculty, and employees from arbitrary repressions,” she added.

De Guia stressed that suppression of guaranteed rights “should never be the response” to dissent under democracy, adding that “protests serve as a gauge” on how well a government is responding to the needs of a nation.

She expressed hope that the measure will be enacted into law to ensure the security of the UP community.

“Likewise, we echo the sentiments of House Deputy Speaker Eddie Villanueva, one of the principal authors of the bill, that instead of discouraging the youth to participate in national discourse and suppressing their idealism, we must draw on their ideas and engage them in finding solutions to the country’s problems, especially now that we are in the process of national recovery from the Covid19 pandemic,” De Guia said.