DND ends agreement with UP barring military, police from its campuses

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18) — Citing the supposed "clandestine recruitment" of students in communist organizations, the Department of National Defense has ended a three-decade-old agreement with the University of the Philippines that barred the police and military from entering any of its campuses without notifying school officials.

In a letter, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana informed UP President Danilo Concepcion that the UP-DND accord was "terminated or abrogated" as of January 15, 2021. He said this was done so they could perform their mandate to protect the youth from CPP-NPA recruitment activities.

A copy of the letter was posted online Monday by the Philippine Collegian, UP's official student publication.

The letter read in part: "This Department is aware that there is indeed an ongoing clandestine recruitment inside UP campuses nationwide for membership in the CPP/NPA and that the 'Agreement' is being used by the CPP/NPA recruiters and supporters as a shield or propaganda so that government law enforcers are barred from conducting operations against the CPP/NPA."

The letter said the agreement was being terminated for reasons of national security and safety of UP students.

The letter, however, added that no military nor police personnel would be stationed inside campuses. The DND said it does not wish "to suppress activist groups, academic freedom and freedom of expression."

"Our Armed Forces and Police are willing to reach out to the youth and provide them with another perspective on our nation and society. We want them to see their Armed Forces and Police as protectors worthy of trust, not fear," it added.

A separate statement from the DND said Lorenzana has confirmed that he had informed the UP administration about the abrogation of the agreement.

UP has not yet given a statement on the DND's unilateral termination of the agreement.

The UP-DND Accord was signed in 1989 and states that prior to entering any UP campus, the military and police must give notice to university officials.

This is a developing story.