Terminated UP-DND accord does not give military free pass to make arrests inside campus — UP law professor

The military cannot conduct search and arrest warrants even if they can now freely enter the university, UP Diliman (UPD) law professor Theodore Te reiterated in a security briefing held by the UPD Community Security Committee (UPDCSC) Feb. 15.

Only the Philippine National Police (PNP) is authorized to do law enforcement activities like serving warrants, said Te. Under the UP-Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Accord, the PNP is still required to notify UP officials prior to conducting any operations within the campus. 

This comes exactly a month after the unilateral abrogation of the UP-Department of National Defense (DND) Accord. The agreement signed in 1989 barred unrestricted entry of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in UP campuses following the atrocities committed towards student-activists during Martial Law.

Unlike the UP-DND Accord, the UP-DILG Accord is still in effect. But its future is hanging by the thread after DILG expressed the intent to “review and update the agreement to present conditions.

The UP-DILG Accord, signed in 1992, has similar content with the UP-DND Accord. The only difference is that it prevents the entry of civilian police forces like the PNP inside the campus, except in cases of hot pursuit or just passing through. 

UPD Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo said the university already formed a legal team to study the arguments made by DILG and present appropriate defenses. 

Police intrusions

Despite the agreement in place, the UPD Public Safety and Security Office (PSSO) monitored 21 cases of police intrusions just from Jan. 19 to Feb. 5, one of which involved questioning the staff and customers of an Area 2 canteen regarding alleged activities in the area.

The most recent intrusion happened Feb. 14 when the police entered the university’s man-made forest, the Arboretum, on short notice. They claimed that they planted mahogany trees. 

UPD PSSO Director John Barona said short notices “were not the usual and right procedure” and the activity was not authorized by the UP Diliman Police. 

The police also breached the university’s tree planting protocols that prohibits the planting of mahogany trees in the area, Vice Chancellor (VC) for Community Affairs Aleli Bawagan said.  

In addition, UPD PSSO reported a case of incursion by the AFP for their urban gardening project in Arboretum and Brgy. UP Campus last Jan. 20. A coast guard intrusion was also recorded. 

With both accords in hot waters, Te said the heightened military and police presence could intimidate those who reside inside the campus.

May mga sundalong aaligid, papasok [at] magpaparamdam sa loob ng campus. May [ganitong] mga insidente na sunod-sunod. Hindi maiiwasan na there will be a general sense of insecurity,” Te added.

These instances of intimidation prompted the university to create the UPDCSC — a multi-sectoral body composed of representatives from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, faculty and Brgy. UP Campus officials.

The community security committee, alongside the PSSO, is tasked to craft “guidelines and policies ensuring the protection and welfare of the community in this critical time.”

One of UPDCSC’s first actions was to strengthen security measures in the college that houses the Lumad Bakwit school, Bawagan said, following the violent and illegal arrest of Lumad students, elders and volunteer teachers in the University of San Carlos Cebu Feb. 15. 

The committee also created an emergency helpline where UPD constituents can report security concerns such as military and police presence within the campus vicinity. 

UPDCSC will coordinate with Brgy. UP Campus officials to review existing security protocols in the area and propose revisions for its improvements if needed. It will also facilitate information campaigns, dialogues and educational workshops on campus security. 

Red-tagging

While security measures are being ramped up inside the campus, Nemenzo underscored that intimidation is no longer just limited to the entry of uniformed personnel. It now includes the act of red-tagging, which does not require physical presence.

Student councils across the UP system reported increased red-tagging against UP students and organizations during the pandemic — most of which happened on social media.

(READ: Red-tagging of UP students, orgs worsened during pandemic — student councils)

Considering the rampant incidents online, VC for Student Affairs Loujaye Sonido said they are planning to create a separate committee that would deal with cybersecurity issues and data protection. 

A quick response team that will provide legal assistance to victims of red-tagging and intimidation is currently in the works. Te said that a group from the College of Law is being organized to provide paralegal training and publish primers on human and constitutional rights. 

The UPDCSC is also discussing the provision of psychosocial support to red-tagged individuals.

While the university is firm in its position to challenge the unilateral abrogation, Te stressed the need to remain vigilant to ensure the safety of the UP community. 

Pinakamabisang sandata ay ‘yung kaalaman natin sa ating karapatan. Kasi pag alam natin saan tayo nakasandal, may mga hakbang tayong maaaring gawin para protektahan ‘yung kalagayan natin,” Te added. 

Nemenzo assured that the university will assert not just the restoration, but also the strengthening of an accord that has been vital to sustaining academic freedom, which is the university’s lifeblood.

Mula pa 1908 ang UP ay hindi lang demilitarized zone but isa itong sanctuary … kung saan lahat ay malayang mag-isip, magpahayag, magdebate, magsuri, pumuna, magprotesta at magtatag ng mga alternatibong pananaw,” Nemenzo said. 

“Ang academic freedom ay posible lamang kung walang takot, walang pananakot [at] walang banta,” he added. 

You may report security concerns to the UPD Community Security Committee’s emergency helplines:

Mobile: 09175971984 (Globe)

Email: [email protected]

With reports by Almira Coleen Mendoza

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