Lorenzana willing to discuss abrogation of accord with UP president, says Roque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 21) — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has accepted Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque's offer to broker talks with the University of the Philippines following the termination of the 1989 accord that bars unauthorized entry of security forces into UP campuses.

In his briefing on Thursday, Roque said only Lorenzana has so far expressed willingness to discuss the matter with UP President Danilo Concepcion, adding the latter has not responded to his offer so far.

"What I offered was my good office...Pero so far po ang tumanggap lang po ay si Sec Delfin Lorenzana," Roque said. "Hindi pa po ako nakakarinig ng kahit anong komento kay President Danilo Concepcion."

[Translation: So far, only Sec. Delfin Lorenzana has accepted the offer. I have not heard any comment from President Danilo Concepcion yet.]

"Itong bagay na to hindi na kailangang makarating sa level ng Presidente," he added. "Although we do have the principle of qualified political agency, sa level na po ito ni Sec Lorenzana."

[Translation: This matter does not need to reach the level of the President. Although we do have the principle of qualified political agency, and this is on the level of Sec. Lorenzana.]

Roque, a UP alumnus, earlier said he wanted to offer his "good office" to facilitate the discussion between the two parties, should they need assistance on the “proper course of action” to resolve issues surrounding the pact.

“Being a UP graduate and UP professor myself, I even offer my good office if they need assistance in discussing this matter,” Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday.

The pact between the DND and UP prohibits police and military personnel from entering campuses of the premier state university without prior notice, unless there is "hot pursuit" or an emergency. But through a Jan. 15 letter addressed to UP officials, the DND moved to unilaterally terminate the agreement, citing the supposed "clandestine recruitment" of students in communist organizations.

Following the abrogation, Concepcion said in a statement that the Duterte administration did not reach out to school officials to address any of its grievances before scrapping the three-decade long pact. He also asked Lorenzana to review his decision, warning it may worsen relations between the government and the UP community.

READ: UP President: reconsider end of DND pact, gov't need not fear academic freedom 

Lorenzana on Tuesday justified the Duterte administration's decision, saying the courtesy accorded to UP in 1989 is now obsolete because there is a need to protect the majority of Filipinos against a university that has become a "breeding ground" of groups with extremist beliefs to recruit students to go against the government.

The Duterte administration has repeatedly red-tagged students of UP. President Rodrigo Duterte has accused the state university of recruiting students to join the communist insurgency. He also previously threatened to defund UP after confusion following calls for an academic strike.