Jan 23, 2021 @ 14:59

Baka pati rally pakialaman! Ex-SC justice Vicente Mendoza warns of military abuses in UP after DND ends pact

An “atmosphere of fear” could prevail at the University of the Philippines (UP) after the Department of National Defense (DND) ended its three-decade old accord that banned the police and military from entering any of the school’s campuses, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente V. Mendoza has warned.

In his January 23 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Mendoza expressed doubt over Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s assurance that ending the UP-DND pact will not lead to a curtailment of academic freedom.

“[G]ranting the military or the police unhampered access to UP could lead to abuses and violations of constitutional rights as discussions of current social issues could easily be thought to be subversive. Soldiers in civilian clothes could infiltrate the ranks of students holding legitimate rallies and demonstrations,” Mendoza said.

The former Supreme Court magistrate warned that the timing of the accord’s termination also raises questions.

“Secretary Lorenzana’s repudiation of the DND-UP agreement at this time, when the Anti-Terrorism Act is being implemented and red-tagging of professors and students is being done, can only reinforce suspicions that his action is part of the move to suppress dissent in this country,” he said.

Lorenzana earlier said in a letter to UP president Danilo Concepcion that the DND was ending its 1989 agreement with the school due to the supposed rampant recruitment of students as communist rebels inside UP campuses.

The UP-DND accord stated that the police and military should give prior notice to school officials before entering any of the university’s campuses nationwide.

Concepcion has asked Lorenzana to reconsider the unilateral termination of the agreement but the DND chief refused.

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