Press Release
January 26, 2021

Senate welcomes dialogue over UP-DND Accord

(UPDATE) THE Senate on Tuesday afternoon adopted Senate Resolution 616 as amended, welcoming the Department of National Defense's (DND) decision to answer the various calls for dialogue with the University of the Philippines on the termination of the 1989 UP-DND Accord.

Initiated by former UP Student Regent Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, the resolution was co-authored by Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Leila De Lima, Franklin Drilon, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, Joel Villanueva, and Migz Zubiri.

The amended Senate Resolution 616 also "[expresses] the sense of the urge both parties to revisit the Accord, and to further urge the DND to hold dialogues with other academic institutions and find a common ground that promotes the rule of law, peace and security, and protects academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence."

The adoption of the resolution followed the unilateral termination of the UP-DND Accord that regulates police and military presence in UP campuses.

In his sponsorship of the resolution, Pangilinan said the issue, as with Covid vaccine rollout and rising food prices, is best resolved through dialogue.

"Kailangan na talagang mag-usap. Lumalaki na ang gulo," the senator said in his sponsorship speech.

"Pwedeng kasama sa dialogue ang sinasabing 'hot bed' di umano ng mga rebelde ng mga pamantasan. Totoo ba ito? Kung totoo maiiwasan ba ito sa pag-terminate ng sinasabing Accord? Ano pa ang mga ibang paraan para hindi mag-armas ang mga estudyante? Ano ang mga dahilan ng pag-aaklas ng mga estudyante? What are the root causes of insurgency, among others?" he added.

Pangilinan said that he himself was a student activist and that activism was the defining moment of his life. He said that activism was what brought him to the Senate to serve the country.

"Activism was my love language for our country and for our people," he said.

Pangilinan also said that the academic freedom in UP, which includes the freedom to think, speak, move, and dissent critically, is a freedom that everyone is entitled to.

"We hope that this resolution will inspire an open and transparent, as well as participatory and inclusive dialogue among all parties," he said.

Earlier, Pangilinan filed two bills seeking to include Accord safeguards in the 2008 UP Charter as well as expand them to all state universities and colleges (SUC) nationwide.

As former UP Diliman University Student Council chair, Pangilinan championed as principal author and sponsor the passage of the UP Charter law in 2008 that lists safeguards for the welfare of UP students, faculty, and staff.

"April 2008 nang pinasa natin ang UP Charter. It will be 13 years since then and it's a good time to introduce amendments that would better cater to the needs of the UP community, especially following the attacks it has been experiencing lately. We want to ensure that any accord that UP will enter into in the future cannot be abrogated unilaterally," Pangilinan said.

Among other things, Senate Bill No. 2014 amending the UP Charter of 2008 prohibits soldiers, policemen, and other law enforcement agency personnel from entering UP campuses except in hot pursuit and other emergency situations.

Relatedly, Pangilinan's Senate Bill No. 2016 or Academic Freedom Act of 2021 aims to protect and guarantee the academic freedom by also requiring prior notification before police action inside public campuses, among other things.

"Napakarami ngayong reported incidence of red-tagging sa ating mga estudyante. The red-tagging of students has been widespread and pervasive. Kami mismo sa Senado ay nag-hearing na tungkol dito. It is a harsh reality that students face: a climate of fear mongering and intimidation designed to curb critical thinking and freedom of expression. It is unjust and unproductive," Pangilinan said.

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