Students protest the termination of the UP-DND agreement at Quezon Hall in Quezon City on January 19, 2021. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
MANILA – The unilateral repeal of the Department of Defense’s pact with the University of the Philippines (UP) to allow state forces to enter campus has become a legal issue, whether or not it is valid, a faculty member said Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, with the Department of National Defense (DND) repealing the agreement at the end, it now becomes a legal issue to be decided by someone outside the parties,” UP College of Law Attorney Theodore Te told ANC.
In the absence of a provision regarding the 1989 Soto-Enrile preliminary ruling, the former Supreme Court spokesman said that the two parties should be obliged to fulfill obligations based on the principle of reciprocity.
“My opinion here is that it cannot be lifted from one side. Unfortunately, the DND has unfortunately taken unilateral measures,” he said.
He added, “It is now becoming a legal issue of whether or not it was appropriate, unless the DND re-examines it and says it will reinstate the agreement.”
One of the options UP can take is to go to court to question DND’s decision, Te said.
The state university can also ask Congress to enact provisions of the pact that prohibits military and police forces from operating within an UP campus, he said.
“To put it in the UP Charter or the Republic Act 9500. This charter enshrines certain principles that govern UP’s relationship with the state and the public at large. This charter would define how UP would operate,” he added .
If the termination of the pact is successful, Te expressed concern about the presence of state forces on campus.
“That means we go back to the past where agents can re-enter. (This means agents can re-enter the premises.) This is insidious, this is anathematic for a university,” he said.
“A student shouldn’t be afraid (a student shouldn’t worry) in a university to hold an opposing view, a dissenting view.”
Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana unilaterally dismissed the 1989 agreement last week claiming that UP had become a breeding ground for communists.
UP President Danilo Concepcion has asked Lorenzana to reconsider the “completely unnecessary and unjustified” termination of the agreement.
He added that the university regretted DND’s move to repeal the agreement “without the prior consultation that would have addressed the concerns raised in your letter”.
“Rather than instilling confidence in our police and military, your decision can only lead to more confusion and suspicion as you have not specified exactly what to do or implement in lieu of police protections and courtesies,” Concepcion said in an agreement Explanation.
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