/ 28 January 2022

THE SENATE will institutionalize the agreement between the University of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense one year after the DND unilaterally terminated the accord.

Senate Committee on Higher, Technical and Vocational Education Chairman Joel Villanueva sponsored the committee report on Senate Bill 2491 to integrate the agreement into the state university’s charter.

The senator said that it is the Senate’s duty to protect academic freedom and keep it alive.

“This is not a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign that will bar law enforcement agencies from entering the campus. It is not meant to obstruct justice or deter the solution or prevention of crime. It only lays down the guidelines on the conduct of operations by law enforcement agencies – highlighting the necessity for prior notification and coordination by law enforcement agencies with university officials,” Villanueva said in his sponsorship speech.

The measure amends Republic Act 9500 or the UP Charter to include a provision that will prevent the military, police and other law enforcement agencies from entering the premises of UP campuses nationwide “except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency,” or as determined by  university officials as indispensably necessary in the maintenance of security, peace and order, as specified under the bill.

The measure also requires law enforcement agencies to coordinate with university officials in the service of warrants and in the conduct of arrests, detentions and custodial investigations.

Law enforcement agencies will also be barred from interfering with peaceful protest actions within UP campus premises as well as those outside campuses led by recognized student organizations provided that a prior notification has been made.

“Academic excellence can only be achieved in a peaceful and secure environment, and we cannot do that when our premiere state university is subject to pressure under police and military presence,” Villanueva said.

Senate Bill 2491, also authored by Villanueva, institutionalizes the 1989 UP-DND accord which was established after a staff member of the Philippine Collegian, the official student publication of the State University, was abducted, tortured, and coerced to own up to the killing of a US military officer.

Senators Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Juan Edgardo Angara, Risa Hontiveros, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima and Panfilo Lacson  joined Villanueva as authors of the bill.