/ 20 January 2021

AFTER THE termination of the accord between the Department of National Defense and the University of the Philippines, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that the university and the security sector must come up with an agreement setting up boundaries to ensure that the DND will not overstep its bounds.

Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense, said this is to prevent the move from negatively affecting academic freedom in the state university.

“Once the pact is terminated, what will the security sector do? We don’t know that yet. Probably they could come to an agreement that there are boundaries to be observed,” Lacson said.

He warned the DND that it would overstep its bounds if the termination of the decades-long agreement with UP aims to muzzle the academic and other freedoms enjoyed by the UP community.

The DND ended the agreement citing information that the New People’s Army is recruiting students inside UP campuses.

Lacson noted that during the Senate hearings on red-tagging, it was established that students were being recruited to the NPA not only inside UP but in other universities.

“To join the militant organizations, that’s fine. You can protest all you want. But when you bear arms against government and you are very young, you are vulnerable, you are easily radicalized, and the hotbed of recruitment would be UP, PUP and other universities, then I think the security sector has studied all the factors involved before they acted on the matter,” the senator said.

However, he said the termination of the pact will affect the freedom enjoyed in UP, whose community is known to be independent.

“Definitely it will affect the culture because UP is known to be independent and they are involved in so many political issues. They enjoy so much freedom. And then all of a sudden you take it away from them, that really hurts. Definitely there will be outcry, protests and disagreements. Let’s see how it shapes up in the future,” he said.