‘It just heightens the tension’: Drilon asks Lorenzana to review termination of UP-DND pact

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 19)— Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he would ask Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to review the agency’s decision to end the agreement with the University of the Philippines that bars the entry of state forces in its campuses.

Speaking to CNN Philippines on Tuesday, Drilon noted that the move of the Department of National Defense may only “heighten the tension” between government authorities and the country’s premier state university.

“I know Secretary Lorenzana to be a very reasonable person. I would ask him to review this abrogation of this agreement,” Drilon said in an interview with The Source. “Because it does not solve any problem, it just heightens the tension.”

“We’re not saying that UP should be beyond the law,” he added. “If there are issues or violations of the law, a search warrant, for example, is available. And this remedy is available to the authorities, not only in other places, but also in UP.”

In a letter made public on Monday, the DND informed UP officials that it is ending the 1989 accord that barred the police and military from entering any of its campuses without notifying school officials, citing the supposed "clandestine recruitment" of students in communist organizations. Lorenzana underscored the need to “to protect the rights of the majority” of Filipinos, claiming that the university has become a “safe haven” for enemies of the state.

Drilon, a graduate of UP himself, said he was “saddened” by the development.

“As a UP graduate, I know how valued the freedom inside the campus is; how much the students and the faculty and the academic community value the freedom that UP enjoys,” added the senator, who took up political science and law in UP Diliman.

UP President Danilo Concepcion also expressed concern over the “unnecessary and unwarranted” abrogation of the accord, and likewise urged Lorenzana to reconsider the move.

“May I urge you, therefore, to reconsider and revoke your abrogation, and request further that we meet to discuss your concerns in the shared spirit of peace, justice, and the pursuit of excellence,” Concepcion said in a statement.