/ 29 January 2021

A YOUTH group slammed the statement of Commission on Higher Education Chairman Prospero de Vera III that the accord between the Department of National Defense and the University of the Philippines was “destined to be problematic.”

National Union of Students of the Philippines President Jandeil Roperos said De Vera failed to understand that the termination of  the UP-DND pact would endanger the students, faculty and staff of UP.

“Due to intensified campus militarization among the campuses of UP that is likely to follow after the recent abrogation of the accord. Given that he is an alumnus of UP, he should go over the history of Diliman Commune that gave birth to this Accord and he seems to forget what history has taught us,” Roperos said.

The accord was signed on June 30, 1989 by then-UP president Jose Abueva and then-defense chief Fidel Ramos. It bars uniformed personnel from entering UP campuses without prior notice.

Roperos stressed that abrogating the pact is “a huge breach in academic freedom and democratic rights of the individuals.”

“UP should be an avenue for expressing one’s ideology and opinions freely, without having a single thought on the possible harmful repercussions that would befall them,” she said.

“What’s problematic is that instead of upholding the rights of every Filipino student, faculty, and staff, as he has the highest position in the CHED curriculum, Prospero De Vera has proven time and time again that he is a traitor to the student masses in their struggle to fight for their fundamental rights,” she added.

Last week, De Vera said the pact “has no clear detailed operational details to implement the provisions of the agreement.”

He added that the concerned parties have not met regularly to determine compliance with the agreement, review alleged violations, determine appropriate penalties and recommend revisions in the Accord given the changing times.

Roperos pointed out that De Vera has chosen “to become a mere puppet of the Duterte regime” rather than to be with the students and personnel of UP and other educational institutions.

She called on student councils and publications to stress their demands to defend academic freedom.

“Academic institutions must be safe and conducive spaces for the holistic growth and development of every individual and that the abrogation of the UP-DND accord would only further amplify student repression and not recognize the constitutionally-protected rights of the students to exercise their freedom to impart their ideologies and opinions with each other.

We call on all student councils to stand in defending our academic freedom amid these state-sponsored attacks,” she said.