Press Release
January 20, 2021

Statement of UP Alumna and Senator Pia S. Cayetano on DND's abrogation of its accord with UP

I am saddened to hear about the Department of National Defense's (DND) decision to unilaterally terminate its long-standing agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP), which established the protocols governing the conduct of military and police personnel within the university's premises.

The accord is an expression of the mutual respect between the two government institutions, and mutual acknowledgment of their respective mandates to serve our nation and people's best interests. UP as a premiere state university advances quality higher learning and promotes academic freedom, which is an integral component of a vibrant, democratic society, while the DND is the agency mandated to protect our nation against internal and external threats to peace and security. These two mandates are not, and should not be in conflict with one another.

Terminating an important accord like this that has stood and worked for more than three decades should undergo careful evaluation and discussion.

Assuming that the DND has well-founded reasons to push for the abrogation, then this should be done by way of dialogue and consultation. Forcing the matter could only lead to deeper misunderstanding between our national security leadership and members of the UP Community.

As a premier university that has produced leaders in both government and the private sector and outstanding professionals and innovators in various fields who have all contributed to nation-building, UP deserves to be duly informed and engaged in meaningful dialogue.

I was a student in UP for eight years. I was a law student when the UP-DND accord was signed in 1989 between then UP President Jose Abueva and then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos. The diversity of opinions, political and otherwise, enriched my perspective and gave me the background and the foundation I rely upon on my work as a legislator.

I urge the leaders of both institutions to sit down and discuss, with the objective of helping both UP and DND understand each other's views, positions, and proposals on this matter.

Given that DND has allegedly determined that there are "ongoing clandestine recruitment inside UP campuses nationwide by the CPP-NPA," then nothing prevents it from working with the UP administration to address this concern to protect its students and the institution.

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