A TOP Malacañang official hinted on brokering talks between the Department of National Defense (DND) and University of the Philippines officials over the brewing confrontation resulting from the termination of a 30-year old accord on military and police presence on campuses.
In a television interview, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque went as far as hosting the meeting in his office between representatives of the DND and the state university.
“I’m opening my good office for them to have this discussion,” Roque was quoted as saying during the interview.
Roque, who is an alumnus of the university under siege and former member of the UP faculty, said he supports UP President Danilo Concepcion’s move to seek a dialogue with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana regarding the matter.
“My personal opinion, if it worked for 30 years, let’s talk why it shouldn’t continue for another 30 years,” added Roque, with reference to the unilateral abrogation of the accord by the DND last January 15.
Under the agreement signed in June 1989, soldiers and policemen were prohibited from entering the premises of any UP campus or its regional units without prior notice to the UP administration.
In explaining the DND’s decision, Lorenzana said the accord is already “obsolete” and claimed UP has become a “safe haven” for enemies of the state.
Various UP student councils, meanwhile, denounced the DND’s move as an attack on academic freedom as well as on freedom of speech.
Roque said he is confident that UP students will not be “cowed” by the termination of the agreement, saying the university had survived the dark days of President Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law.