The Department of National Defense is terminating its decades-long accord with the University of the Philippines which prohibits state forces from stepping on campus grounds without prior notice to campus officials.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion shared by the UP Office of the Student Regent, said the agreement was terminated starting Jan. 15.
Netizens responded with the hashtag #DefendUP which has garnered over 16,000 tweets as of posting time.
"We highly condemn this move as an attempt to encroach on our academic freedoms and remove safe spaces from our campuses!" the UP Office of the Student Regent said in a tweet.
The accord, signed in 1989 by UP President Jose Abueva and then Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos, bars the military and police from entering any campus without notifying first campus officials. Exemption to the agreement are "cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency."
Lorenzana said "recent events undeniably show that a number of UP students have been identified as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines/ New People's Army."
"In pursuit of true national peace and development, it is time to terminate or abrogate the existing 'agreement' with the end view of protecting and securing the institution and the youth against the enemies of the Filipino people without sacrificing the freedoms we have preserved for about 30 years since this 'agreement' was executed," Lorenzana said in the letter.