University of the Philippines

‘No compelling reason’: Retired UP professors protest end of pact with gov’t

Bonz Magsambol
‘No compelling reason’: Retired UP professors protest end of pact with gov’t

Photo of the UP oblation in Diliman, Quezon City

Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

'The letter of abrogation provides no specific instances and no supporting proof of where, when, and how the agreement failed – especially on UP’s part,' the statement reads

Professors Emeriti of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman denounced the abrogation of the university’s agreement with the Department of National Defense (DND) which prevented state forces from entering the university.

In an open letter penned on Sunday, January 24, and shared by UP Diliman on Facebook January 26, at least 35 retired professors urged Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Prospero de Vera III, also the chairman of the UP Board of Regents, and UP President Danilo Concepcion to join them in working to strengthen “academic freedom against those who seek to weaken them.”

“We Professors Emeriti have served this University for most of our working lives, and have devoted our time and talents to the improvement of the Filipino future,” they said.

“We continue to work for our people’s peace and prosperity, and leave behind generations of students imbued with the same ideals of honor and excellence. We wield no power but that of our minds and our experience—which our government, business and industry, and society at large have freely drawn upon,” they added.

Professor emeritus is given and conferred upon retired faculty members in recognition of their exceptional achievements and exemplary service to the university.

The retired professors said that they see “no tenable or compelling reason” why the agreement was terminated on January 15 as it served its intended purposes for over 30 years.

“The letter of abrogation provides no specific instances and no supporting proof of where, when, and how the agreement failed — especially on UP’s part,” they added.

Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana justified the termination of UP-DND pact, saying that UP is now “a safe haven for enemies of the state,” referring to communists. 

“Our military institutions—and even our highest academic and administrative officials—must be reminded that UP is an intellectual meritocracy, as great universities should be, which is how it can best serve the nation,” the retired professors said.

“At this crucial point in our beloved UP’s history, we feel compelled to speak as a body, organizing ourselves into an Oblation Forum, in defense of the need to keep UP – all our constituent universities – as a safe space for intellectual inquiry, without fear of external and internal threats from whatever source,” they added.

Among those who signed the letter were former Socioeconomic Planning chief Ernesto Pernina, economist Winnie Monsod, former UP chancellor Michael Tan, and former UP president Francisco Nemenzo.

Read their full letter below:

Meanwhile, De Vera said in a statement on January 21 said that the UP-DND accord was “destined to be problematic” because it had “no clear detailed operational details” for implementation.

The UP-DND agreement, signed in 1989, provides that state forces have to notify the university administration first before they can enter UP campuses.

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What you need to know about the 1989 UP-DND accord

What you need to know about the 1989 UP-DND accord

The scrapping of the deal has come under fire as students and various groups blasted the Duterte government for militarizing campuses. UP President Danilo Concepcion said that the abolition of the deal was “totally unnecessary and unwarranted.

This latest crackdown of the Duterte government against dissent shrinks further the democratic space in the country as UP campuses have been a refuge for student activism since the 1980s. – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.