Eddie Villanueva

Institutionalization of UP, DND accord step closer to becoming law

September 25, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 375 views

A HOUSE leader on Wednesday hailed the approval on third and final reading of a bill seeking to institutionalize the University of the Philippines (UP)-Department of National Defense (DND) Accord.

As House Bill (HB) 10171 inches closer to becoming a law, Deputy Speaker for Good Governance and Moral Uprightness and Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva, principal sponsor of the measure, said he is hopeful that the enactment would foster “more youth idealism” in the country.

“In these dark times of the pandemic, what the country needs is an abundance of the youth’s ideas for national recovery. Young people, especially mga iskolar ng bayan, must be encouraged, not discouraged, to be more vocal, more visible, and more vigorously participative in the national discourse. An ailing nation needs more of the youth’s ideas and idealism, not less. More young people are speaking out, not less,” Villanueva said.

The accord was an agreement between UP and DND signed in 1988 which aimed to protect UP students, faculty, and personnel from military intervention in the exercise of academic freedom as enshrined in the UP charter.

It was, however, unilaterally abrogated by DND last January 15 to ensure the safety of the UP students from claimed recruitment by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

“CIBAC believes that instead of security, the UP-DND abrogation strikes fear in students who may hold views critical or even just slightly off-tangent from the government’s stand on issues. Instead of cultivating academic freedom, it sows seeds of intimidation,” Villanueva said.

“As our nation’s pride and premiere university, UP is a model of academic freedom to all educational institutions in the country. It’s being one of the world’s best universities is owed to its culture of openness to diversity of beliefs, debate of opinions, and discussion of viewpoints. By institutionalizing the UP-DND Accord to be part of the law of the land and not just an agreement left to the mercy of the executive, it will restore not only UP’s but even the Filipino people’s confidence in its commitment to promote the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech, expression, and peaceable assembly,” Villanueva exclaimed.

The bill seeks, among others, to prevent state security forces (such as PNP and AFP) from entering and enforcing its operations in all UP campuses without prior notice to “the President or the Chancellor of the constituent university or the dean of the regional unit concerned” except “in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions or emergencies.”

It also prohibits members of the PNP (Philippine National Police), AFP or any other law enforcement agencies from interfering with peaceful protest actions by individuals or groups within University premises.

Likewise, it establishes a joint monitoring group composed of representatives from the government defense sector, security forces and University officials to ensure compliance with the measure.

“This bill, once it becomes a law, will enhance and strengthen the foundation of liberty and sound democracy in our land, especially in the academe. Freedom in academia and in expressing oneself without fear of punishment are liberties directly emanating from our divinely ordained freedom of conscience. Government must respect the sacred character of these liberties under the law and before the very eyes of God Himself, the ultimate lawgiver. CIBAC is passionate to see this bill through until it finally becomes law,” Villanueva concluded.