State regains security control at UP

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    DURING the heady days of the Cory Aquino administration, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and University of the Philippines (UP) student leader Sonia Soto forged an agreement to the effect that state security forces — the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the national police — will not enter the UP Diliman campus and its other campuses to conduct operations without the consent of the UP administration.

    The accord was known as the Enrile-Soto pact, and it was signed in 1989 at the height of the popularity of Cory Aquino’s administration and its much-touted democratic space.

    The government had religiously abided by the agreement, and in fact, the Quezon City police always inform UP whenever they have some activities to do on campus. UP meanwhile has its own police force to implement the laws, ordinances, and regulations, both of the school and the city.

    ‘There shouldn’t be any denials
    that UP had been the breeding
    ground of radicals, rebels, leftists, etc.’

    The Department of National Defense-University of the Philippines accord was a big victory for the student leaders and faculty of the state university. It marked a high point of autonomy for UP, and with it, the bloating of opportunities for the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army to exploit the idealism of young Filipinos being nurtured in Diliman, Los Baños, Baguio, Manila, and other campuses.

    There shouldn’t be any denials that UP had been the breeding ground of radicals, rebels, leftists, etc. Just show the list of UP personalities who had been killed in the armed struggle — from Maria Lorena Barros in the 1970s to Josephine Anne Lapira last year — the roster is long and keeps getting longer.

    The government had to do something, and so Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana terminated the 31-year-old accord signed between the DND and the University in 1989, which keeps state forces from entering the university premises. In a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion dated January 15, 2021, Lorenzana said the DND-UP Accord “is hereby terminated or abrogated effective this date.”

    In his letter of termination, Lorenzana pointed out that the accord “stipulates certain limitations” where police and military units are prevented from entering the campus without prior communication from the UP administration. Lorenzana stressed that the DND is aware of the ongoing clandestine recruitment of students by the CPP and the NPA inside UP campuses nationwide, and the accord only serves as a “hindrance” to government forces who cannot conduct anti-communist operations inside the campuses.

    Lorenzana’s move is an offshoot of the declaration by the government’s Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) that the CPP-NPA-NDF is in fact a terrorist organization because it advocates the overthrow of the government both by armed and parliamentary struggles.

    As early as Monday night, we heard howls and cries of rage from such critics as Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Rep. Carlos Zarate, along with the UP Office of Student Regent, but these will not deter the government from moving towards the direction of self-preservation.

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