CHED backs review of pact limiting entry of cops, soldiers to UP

MANILA Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Prospero de Vera stressed the need to review the 30-year old agreement between the Department of National Defense and the University of the Philippines (UP) that sets rigid conditions for the entry of government security forces into its campuses, citing illegal drug problems.

We should not expect those in the academe to become policemen. They don't have the skills, they don't have the training and maybe what the media should investigate is what is the capability really of the UP Police to handle the drug problem inside the campus because there are portions of the UP campus identified as areas where there is a prevalence of drugs, de Vera said on the sidelines of the meeting with officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other higher education institutions on Tuesday.

The PNP has better capability to do that. It can start from very basic sharing of protocols. It can be common training so that the standards of enforcement of the UP police will be up to par okay, he added.

In 1989, UP President Francisco Nemenzo Jr., and then-Secretary of the National Defense, Fidel Ramos, forged an agreement limiting the capacity and presence of police and military force in its major campuses and regional units.

In addition, the 1989 accord specifically provides that "no member of police may conduct operations on UP campuses without prior coordination with, or as requested by UP authorities".

De Vera said the first step to a good working relationship between government security forces and the academe is to establish a common set of protocols to avoid misunderstanding, including in UP.

UP students and faculties have been criticizing the plan of the police and the military to enter their campuses, saying it is a form of curtailment of academic freedom.

What do you mean by common protocols? It can be as basic as information-sharing kasi ngayon kung talagang hindi kayo nag-uusap, wala kayong (because now, if you don't talk to each other, you won't have an) agreement, de Vera said.

De Vera said both parties wanted to find common ground on to work together, as part of the CHED's campaign for safe and healthy campuses, safe from crime and extremism.

"The relationship between the PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the universities is very, very close. There is no problem in terms of coordination. There is no problem in sharing of information, in sharing of crime statistics and helping each other," de Vera added.

PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, meanwhile, supported De Vera's position.

Albayalde particularly agreed with the CHED chair, who cited the prevalence of the drug problem in the state university and its police force's inability to handle crime and extremism in campus.

Albayalde said the PNP seeks to build stronger collaboration among stakeholders to protect campuses against criminal activities, drug syndicates, and shadowy organizations that promote and espouse Local Communist Armed Conflict against government thru force and violence.

We assure the public and the academe community that we will do our best to fulfill our sworn duty, to serve and protect. We only have the best interest of the youth backing our pure good intention to establish police presence in schools against crime, exploitation, and abuse, he said.

Earlier, Albayalde said there is nothing wrong with student activism as long as it is expressed through lawful means and actions.

While stressing that security forces will remain tolerant of lawful activities, Albayalde said they will be firm and uncompromising in addressing acts of willful violence, disobedience, anarchy and disrespect for the rule of law.

He also reiterated that there is no militarization in universities and other campuses, as claimed by the militant groups. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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