The University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu on Friday, June 5, said it will launch a probe into whether a 1982 UP-Department of Defense (DND) accord was violated when police arrested at least 7 individuals who protested against the anti-terror bill at a site near the campus.
"The UP Cebu administration is deeply disturbed by the incident this morning of police dispersing and arresting peaceful protesters within the vicinity of the campus," UP Cebu Chancellor Liza Corro said in a statement.
Corro vowed to probe whether the police violated the UP-DND accord when they chased after students within the vicinity of the campus on Friday. (READ: How to help activists arrested in Cebu City)
Since 1982, UP students have been afforded freedom from military intervention, especially in protest rallies, by virtue of the Soto-Enrile accord signed during the Martial Law period.
Under the accord, the police and the military are not allowed to conduct operations within the vicinity of UP campuses without prior notice or approval of the university administration. This was a result of a long history of student disapperances and killings that took place within the vicinity of the campuses during that time.
"It is most unfortunate that what happened today, with the presence and action of the police anti-riot contingent, heightened rather than allayed the risks to the safety of the people involved," Corro added.
In the statement, Corro also debunked claims that the guard assisted the police in the dispersal and blocked students from entering the campus.
"On the contrary, our guards blocked the police from entering the campus and even chased them out when they jumped into our walls trying to chase the student protesters. Our guards also assisted the students by bringing them into safety inside a campus building," Corro claimed.
Students and youth leaders gathered on Friday to protest the Congress' recent approval of the anti-terrorism bill.
The rally started peacefully until the protesters were met by Cebu City police, who were in combat gear, as well as members of the SWAT team. According to the College Editors Guild of the Philippines in Cebu, protesters were told they would be given 5 minutes to stop the protest. Otherwise, the police would forcefully disperse them.
A few minutes later, protesters scurried towards UP Cebu after police officers moved to disperse them. The cops followed them inside the campus supposedly because they were in "hot pursuit."
Condemning the arrest of the activists, Filipinos took to Twitter to call for their immediate release using the hashtag #ReleaseCebu7. Various student organizations also showed their support by organizing donations for the detainees' community bail fund. (READ: How to help activists arrested in Cebu City) – Rappler.com