Rep. Edcel C. Lagman filed yesterday House Resolution No. 1490 urging the House Committee on Human Rights to immediately conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the unilateral abrogation by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the 1989 UP-DND Agreement.
The cancelled accord protects and upholds the autonomy and academic freedom of the University of the Philippines and its component constituencies from military and police operations without prior notification to and coordination with concerned UP officials.
Representatives Christopher Belmonte, Lorenz Defensor, and Carlos Zarate co-authored the said Resolution even as more Members of the House are expected to cross party lines to support the inquiry.
Lagman underscored that “the unilateral termination of the subject agreement by the DND without prior consultation with and conformity of UP officials is illegal and void ab initio because the accord was entered into bilaterally and mutually, and could not be extinguished by one party alone.”
Lagman added that the one-sided termination “opens the floodgates for military and police incursions into UP campuses nationwide under the guise of protecting national security and maintaining peace and order.”
The abrupt termination red-tags the entire nationwide UP constituencies of UP Diliman, UP Manila, UP Los Baños, UP Visayas, the regional units in San Fernando, Tacloban, Ming-ao (Iloillo), Cebu, as well as UP Mindanao in Davao City and other extension units established after the execution of the accord.
“While Lorenzana claims that UP campuses are hotbeds for recruitment of students for membership to the CPP-NPA, the fact is there are no students now on UP campuses to be purportedly recruited because there are no face-to-face classes and only online classes are ongoing”, according to Lagman.
The Bicol solon emphasized that “UP has produced countless national leaders who have fought and safeguarded freedom and democracy as they were honed by the libertarian traditions of the country’s premier State University.”
He said that in fact 13 of the last 20 Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, the Philippine bastion of the rule of law, were graduates of the UP College of Law.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN