President Rodrigo Duterte supports the termination of the defense department's accord with the University of the Philippines on the entry of troops in the state university, Malacañang said Tuesday as students and alumni raise concerns over the move.
The agreement which Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said was deemed terminated starting Jan. 15, for being "obsolete." Lorenzana said UP has become a "safe haven for enemies of the state."
"Secretary Lorenzana is an alter-ego of the President. Of course, the president supports the decision of Sec. Lorenzana," Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Asked if the move would stifle dissent, Roque responded: "Hindi naman po siguro dahil hindi lang naman UP ang pamantasan na may academic freedom."
The move has sparked outrage on social media with the hashtag #DefendUP. The premier state university has built a reputation as the bastion of student activism over the years.
The agreement, which was signed in 1989, prohibits state forces from entering any UP campus without notifying campus officials beforehand. Exemption to the agreement are "cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency."
UP President Danilo Concepcion, in a letter addressed to Lorenzana, expressed his "grave concern" over the abrogation of the agreement, and called it "unnecessary and unwarranted."
Vice President Leni Robredo also criticized the move, saying it was designed to "sow fear" and "discourage dissent."