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Student leaders call on Congress to oppose end of DND’s pacts with PUP, UP

After the Duterte Youth Party-list gave its support for the scrapping of agreements limiting the entry of state forces in both the University of the Philippines (UP), and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), several student leaders called on Congress to take immediate interventions to protect the rights of the youth.

In a position paper sent to Duterte Youth representative Ducielle Cardema Wednesday, January 20, the PUP Office of the Student Regent (OSR) and the Central Student Council (CSC) asserted the importance of academic freedom and urged Congress to create a resolution opposing the termination of the UP-Department of National Defense (DND) and PUP-DND accords.

The UP-DND agreement was signed in 1989. The following year, the PUP-DND accord was forged, patterned after the earlier pact.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana terminated the UP-DND pact on January 15, citing reported in-campus recruitment activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army. The Duterte government has declared both as terrorist organizations.

By January 19, Cardema called for the termination of PUP-DND accord as well.

Cardema said that the PUP-DND pact should also end because it created “inequality” among other state universities and colleges across the Philippines, and gave "special treatment" to two state universities.

A protest was held Wednesday morning, with several student groups and members of the PUP community condemning Cardema's calls.

Members of student organizations stage a protest at the gate of PUP Main Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila on January 20, 2021 to denounce the impending abrogation of PUP-DND Accord that will allow policemen and military to conduct operations inside the academic institution.

Rappler.com

PUP OSR and CSC asserted that schools should be protected and all measures of immediate intervention should "be made by Congress to ensure the future and interest of the Filipino Youth.”

The student leaders also called on the defense department to dialogue with PUP and UP regarding their respective accords to “preserve the common aspirations for peace, justice and freedom in the country.”

Seeking more protection for the youth, the PUP OSR and CSC asked Congress review or amend existing laws for the youth, such as the Magna Carta for Students. They also raised the possibility of repealing these, if necessary, to pass “a “genuine law that will institutionalize the security of free thought, free speech and critical youth development in all schools nationwide.”

The position paper was also sent to other members of the House of Representatives, and the Department of National Defense.

By Wednesday night, the PUP-Office of the Student Regent (PUP-OSR) reported on its Facebook page that an alleged staff member of Duterte Youth called Central Student Council President Jonero Dacula and questioned the release of their position paper on social media. The staff member allegedly threatened to look for the student leaders if the post containing the position paper was not taken down, according to the PUP-OSR. 

Following the advice of the groups' lawyer, Dacula filed a blotter report with the National Bureau of Investigation General Assignments section on Thursday, January 21, to have the number investigated as there was an “imposed threat to the student leaders of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.”

In a statement sent on Thursday, the Duterte Youth said it was “not aware of their alleged issue of harassment.”

“They (PUP-OSR and Central Student Council) were hospitably allowed to enter our Congress office and submit their position paper. They were even allowed to take photos inside and outside the office. If they will continue twisting the hospitality that our office has shown them…we will file the appropriate charges tomorrow,” Duterte Youth stated.

The PUP-OSR slammed the threat and called for a public debate with Cardema.

“It is really disappointing that instead of addressing the concerns of the students, protecting their interests, and engaging in a proper discourse, this 'youth (mis)representation' chooses to lead both immoral and legal scare tactics to silence them,” the PUP-OSR said.

Opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman has so far called for a House probe into what he called the “illegal” termination of the 1989 UP-DND accord. In the Senate, a bill seeking to institutionalize the UP-DND accord has been filed on Wednesday. – Rappler.com

Samantha Bagayas

Samantha Bagayas is a community and civic engagement specialist under MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm. Aside from writing stories about movements and civic initiatives, she works with movers and campus journalists across the Philippines to amplify issues affecting their communities.

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