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Robredo Says Termination of Defense-UP Accord Meant to 'Sow Fear'

'Designed to silence criticism,' says Robredo.
by Arianne Merez
Jan 19, 2021
Photo/s: OVP
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The Department of National Defense's unilateral termination of a decades-old accord with the University of the Philippines governing the entry of troops in the state university is designed to "sow fear" and "discourage dissent," Vice President Leni Robredo said Tuesday as the move sparked outrage on social media.

Robredo, an alumna of UP, said the defense department's decision is a "symbolic one" that is meant to "silence critics."

"The unilateral scrapping of the decades-old Accord sends the opposite message: That under this administration, anyone, anywhere, at anytime, is fair game," the head of the opposition said in a statement.

"Clearly, then, this is not a practical gesture, but a symbolic one. One designed to sow fear. One designed to discourage dissent. One designed to silence criticism," Robredo added.

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The accord, signed in 1989 by UP President Jose Abueva and then Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos, bars the military and police from entering any UP campus without notifying campus officials beforehand. Exemption to the agreement are "cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency."

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Defense Department Ends Accord with UP That Prohibits Troops on Campus

In terminating the accord, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said UP has become a "safe haven for enemies of the state." He said the deal was deemed terminated starting Jan. 15.

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."

Over the years, UP has built its reputation as the bastion of student activism.

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UP a 'Safe Haven' for Enemies of the State: Defense Chief

UP President to Defense Chief: Academic Freedom Must be Upheld

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Robredo said the essence of the accord--notifying campus officials before the entry of state forces--is "neither a difficult nor onerous rule" as she noted that previous presidents before Rodrigo Duterte upheld it.

"It is now up to us to decide whether we will give in. Or whether, at long last, we will stand our ground and speak out.  In this, my faith remains firm, we will find our courage and do what needs to be done," she said.

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