What if there’s a shabu lab inside the University of the Philippines (UP)?
This was the hypothetical situation presented by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo in justifying the Duterte government’s abrupt termination of the 1989 accord between the state university and the Department of National Defense which prevented the military and police from freely entering UP campuses.
“Paano na lamang po kung mayroong shabu laboratory, for instance. sa loob ng University of the Philippines community or campus and meron tayong valid arrest warrant at search warrant?” Arevalo, a lawyer, said in a press briefing on Wednesday, January 20.
(What if there’s a shabu laboratory, for instance, inside the UP community or campus and we have a valid arrest warrant and search warrant?)
UP has its own police force inside the campus, which can make arrests and turn over criminals to fellow police. Asked if they distrust the university administration, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said no, but the procedure under the accord “defeats the purpose” of the warrants.
By citing this example, the AFP argued that the 1989 accord was “depriving the public of their right to be ensured to be safe.”
Arevalo said that under the Rules of Court, which details procedures for police to follow in making arrests, there was no extra step that required law enforcement to inform the university before implementing its warrants.
“What makes UP so special to have this treatment?” Lorenzana asked.
To recall, UP was able to secure this agreement in 1989 to shield students from police and military presence in schools intended to suppress dissent and protest actions. It was signed two weeks after the warrantless arrest of Philippine Collegian staff member Donato Continente in UP Diliman, over the assassination of US military officer James Nicholas Rowe earlier that year.
Continente, who said he was tortured to admit to a crime he didn't commit, served a reduced prison term following a Supreme Court ruling that he was only an accomplice. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.