/ 21 January 2021

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte backed the move of the Department of National Defense to terminate its agreement with the University of the Philippines that barred security forces from entering all UP campuses, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Palace Spokesman Harry Roque said that Duterte has supported the decision of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in scrapping the accord signed in 1989.

Lorenzana said the agreement was terminated because the university had become a recruitment ground of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army.

“Si Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is an alter ego of the President. Of course, the President supports the decision of Secretary Lorenzana,” Roque said in an interview.

“It was a decision of the DND as privy or a party to that contract between UP and DND,” he added.

Roque, a UP alumnus himself,  stressed that during his 25-year-stay in the university as a professor and as a student, he did not experience any threats from uniformed personnel in the campus.

“I don’t think the policemen were barred from UP. Even during the pandemic, I see them in the vicinity of the campus,” he said.

Roque called on UP President Danilo Concepcion to issue a clearer statement on why the termination of the agreement should be reconsidered. He said authorities will listen to the explanation.

“Tingin ko naman po, sa tagal kong nanatili sa UP, hindi nila hahayaang malabag ang kanilang karapatan sa academic freedom,” he said.

Roque said he will offer his office as a venue for discussion between Lorenzana and Concepcion.

“I’m asking the DND Secretary and the president of UP to sit down. Let’s talk about this, I support the steps of the UP president, let’s see why a 30-year accord should not be continued when it has worked apparently perfectly well in the past 30 years,” he added.

Concepcion had asked Lorenzana to reconsider his decision, saying scrapping the pact may worsen the relations between the two institutions.