New defense chief not open to reviving UP-DND accord

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) — Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilbert Teodoro is not interested in reversing the decision of his predecessor to end the department’s agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) that prevented military and police forces from entering its campuses without informing school officials.

“No, I’m not. That has been the policy done by my predecessor, and I don’t want to reverse the policy,” he said when asked during a Palace briefing on Thursday.

“But that does not mean to say that I’m not mindful of the autonomy of the UP. And I ask everybody to be respectful of that without the need for any MOA (memorandum of agreement),” Teodoro added.

In January 2021, the DND ended the three-decade-old deal with the UP, citing the supposed "clandestine recruitment" of students in communist groups.

A year later, some senators expressed their intent to institutionalize the UP-DND accord, saying doing so could “enhance academic freedom and student protection and promotion of education.”

But Teodoro said that if it would push through, he would uphold the law, but not support it.

“Nandiyan din ang ibang unibersidad na public institutions din. Hindi lang naman ang UP ang pinagrerekrutan ng mga insurgents, marami pang iba,” he said.

[Translation: There are also other universities that are public institutions. UP is not the only one where insurgents try to recruit, there are many others.]