UP Cebu students, staff condemn unilateral termination of DND-UP Accord

By: Delta Dyrecka Letigio - CDN Digital | January 20,2021 - 10:31 AM

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The University of the Philippines in Cebu (UP Cebu) administration has expressed condemnation on the Department of National Defense’s (DND) unilateral termination of the 1989 DND-UP Accord, which prohibits police and military from entering UP campuses without prior notice to school officials.

In a statement, the UP Cebu Chancellor said that the abrogation is a violation of the state university’s right to provide a safe space for academic freedom, independent political analysis, and responsible social critique, all of which are constitutionally enshrined rights.

“The Accord ensures the non-interference by members of the military and police with the peaceful expressions of dissent and protest actions by members of the UP community in their campuses, and protect them from illegal threats and detention,” said Lawyer Liza Coro, the Chancellor of UP Cebu.

Read: EXPLAINER: The 1989 UP-DND Accord

Coro stated that the unilateral abrogation comes at a concerning time when faculty members and students have been receiving threats, direct intimidation, and even red-tagging.

This includes Assistant Professor Regletto Imbong of the College of Social Sciences, who received alarming text messages on his life, for his fight against social injustice.

“We urge our national government and the top official of the DND to rethink and revoke such cancellation of the accord, as we reiterate the call of the UP President for open dialogue and discussion,” said Coro.

UP Law professor and high profile Cebuano lawyer, Amando Virgil Ligutan told CDN Digital that the termination of the UP-DND Accord curtails the freedom within the campus.

“The main reason why UP produces alumni who are leaders and trailblazers in their fields is that the institution fosters academic freedom and freedom to think among its students. Because of this freedom, UP has produced the best (and worst) Presidents of the land, and pioneering scientists and artists that promote learning and the arts.”

“The termination of the UP-DND Accord, in a way, curtails that freedom within the campus. I am afraid it is only the start of that curtailment of freedom that UP enjoys. UP is what it is because it is free. It should remain that way,” said Ligutan.

Student groups have spoken against the abrogation as well, saying it reduces their freedom to think critically without fear of state interference.

Read: UP Cebu: Probe ongoing to see if UP-DND Accord was violated

“The said accord prohibits state forces from entering UP campuses without prior coordination with its admin officials. This was a result of a long bloody struggle of the students against Marcos’ brutal regime that caused countless human rights violations, abuses, and forced disappearances among UP students,” said the Unified Student Organizations of UP Cebu, along with the University Student Council, the All UP Academic Employees Union, and Tug-ani.

The students are urging their administration to protect the school from militarization and ensure the safety of each member within its walls to maintain academic freedom.

“We encourage all UP constituents to continually defend and resist any attacks against our freedom and rights through constant education, organizing, and joint efforts. It is only through collective action and militant struggle can we achieve greater heights,” said the student organizations.”

/bmjo

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TAGS: DND-UP accord, UP, UP-Cebu

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