Newly appointed ad interim Secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro candidly gave an insight on how he will handle the defense department when he gave straightforward answers to issues thrown during an interview by the media particularly on national security concerns in connection with academic freedom and the so called “red-tagging” by the government.

In that interview there was a question raised by ABS-CBN news digital writer Job Manahan whether Secretary Teodoro is amenable to reviewing the Department of National Defense (DND) and University of the Philippines (UP) accord established in 1989 but unilaterally terminated by the former in 2021.

Teodoro replied that he saw no reason to reverse the policy already done by his predecessor and
thus no DND-UP accord will be re-established during his tenure. But what exactly is the DND-UP accord that not so many people know about – except perhaps within the circle of government academic institutions – and is an agreement that somehow, as claimed, protected those that enjoyed their academic freedoms.

For our edification the DND-UP accord essentially contained the following deal: “a) Prior notification shall be given to the UP administration by the military or police before they could conduct any operations inside the UP campuses, b) Except in “cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency,” no military or police shall enter the premises of the UP campuses, c) When the UP administration asks for security assistance from the troops, only uniformed personnel of the military and police can enter the campus premises, d) Members of the military and police “shall not interfere with peaceful protest actions” by the UP community in their campus, e) The service of search warrants to any UP student, faculty, employee, or invited participant in any UP activity shall as far as predictable be done after prior notification to the UP President, or Chancellor
of the campus, or the Dean of the regional unit, f) The arrest or detention of any student, faculty, or employee anywhere in the Philippines, shall be reported immediately to the UP administration.

No members of the UP community shall be subjected to custodial investigation without prior notice of the university administration, g) A joint monitoring group composed of the UP Faculty Regent, UP Student Regent, UP administration officials, and officials from the military and police shall meet twice a year to determine compliance [with] the agreement, h) Nothing in the agreement “shall be construed as a prohibition against the enforcement of the laws of the land.”

So basically what the government educational institutions such as UP is asking under the agreement is for them to be informed first before any of the agents of the government from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and the defunct PC-INP (now PNP) will enter their premises. This is supposedly to maintain the integrity of the academic freedom being enjoyed within these government schools.

However, the DND then under the helm of former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana citing reports of in campus recruitment activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New
People’s Army (CPP-NPA) decided to unilaterally terminated the said accord. In other words the DND backed out of the agreement because the enemy of the State which is the CPP-NPA, is recruiting their members from inside these government learning institutions.

Technically the Republic of the Philippines is still in a state of war against the CPP-NPA for the past 50 years and the military as well as other armed agents of the government has the duty under the law to do its’ best to defeat this enemy. Now the question that comes to mind is whether the unilateral termination of the DND-UP accord threatens the academic freedom enjoyed within the halls of these government educational institutions.

DND secretary Teodoro answered it this way by saying that while he does not intend to reverse the policy set by his predecessor it does not mean that he is not mindful of the autonomy of government learning institutions such as UP, and he urges everybody of be respectful of it (autonomy) without need of any memorandum of agreement (MOA). The 1987 Philippine
Constitution also does not provide any clear definition of what academic freedom really is merely stating in Section 5 of Article XIV of the said law that, “Academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning”.

Obviously, even at its most extreme meaning academic freedom will never include the act of recruiting students to become supporters or members of the enemy of the State because if that were the case then such act of recruitment may fall within the ambit of Act No. 3815 otherwise known as
the Revised Penal Code where in Article 114 thereof it states the following, “Treason – Any Filipino citizen who levies war against the Philippines or adheres to her enemies, giving them aid or comfort within the Philippines or elsewhere, shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death and shall pay
a fine not to exceed Four million pesos (P4,000,000).”

Thus DND secretary Teodoro may be correct when he stated that there is no need to come up with any agreement or deal just to protect the academic freedom of government learning institutions but only to be mindful and respectful of such rights accorded by law.

Amianan Balita Ngayon