New DND chief Gibo says he won’t reinstate UP-DND accord

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
New DND chief Gibo says he won�t reinstate UP-DND accord
This undated photo shows the Oblation statue in the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Newly-appointed Defense Secretary Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. on Thursday rejected the possibility of bringing back the department’s security accord with the University of the Philippines, which the government terminated in 2021.

“I'm not anymore. That has been a policy already done by my predecessor. I don't want to reverse the policy,” Teodor said in a press briefing at Malacañang.

The decades-long UP-DND accord, which the defense department under former Secretary Delfin Lorenzana unilaterally scrapped, prohibited police and military presence in UP except for special circumstances. 

This was signed in 1989 after an abduction of a student journalist and other incidents that threatened the university’s constituents prompted the creation of an earlier version of the agreement in 1982 to protect the autonomy of the university from military intervention.

While Teodoro did not support the revival of the accord, the UP alumnus said that he remains “mindful of the autonomy” of the state university. Teodoro graduated from the UP College of Law in 1989.

“I urge everybody to be respectful of that without the need of a MOA (Memorandum of Agreement),” Teodoro said. 

“I also admonish and encourage all law enforcement officers to be mindful of the balance between freedom of expression and protecting the peace,” Teodoro added.

A similar defense accord between the DND and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines was quietly terminated in 2022—the announcement of which was only made public knowledge by the university a year later. 

In PUP's letter to the DND, its legal representative said that the pact was also unilaterally junked by the DND without a dialogue.

RELATED: Students alarmed at DND termination of accord on operations in PUP campuses 

UP not special 

Teodoro also mentioned that despite the “ruckus” caused by the selection of the new chancellor of UP Diliman in April, the police and the military “did not get involved.”

Teodoro was referring to the UP Board of Regents’ decision to appoint law dean Edgardo Carlo Vistan II as the new UP Diliman chancellor, which prompted supporters of former UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo to demand an explanation and transparency behind the board’s selection process.

RELATED: Despite popular support for Nemenzo, UP regents choose law dean as next chancellor  

Teodoro said that even if Congress manages to pass a law reinstating the agreement that the president will sign, he would only comply but not support the measure.

“If that will be a law and will be signed by the president, we will follow, but I won’t support it. Because it’s not just UP. There are other universities that are also public institutions. Why is our university special?” Teodoro said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

Teodoro said that it’s “not just UP” where alleged insurgents attempt to recruit students. “The focus is just on UP because it is the most prominent university.”

In recent years, UP has been tagged as a prominent recruitment ground for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front–an allegation that university officials have repeatedly denied.

The UP Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs explained in 2020 its role as a university that “values academic freedom—the freedom to think, to speak, to study, to teach, and even the freedom to disagree.” This means the university “encourages critical thinking which, at times, may manifest as an attitude of dissidence and anti-authoritarianism.”

RELATED: Tagged again for 'recruiting communists', UP explains what it actually does  

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with