UP-DND accord Lorenzana wants ended stems from abduction of Donat Continente

The University of the Philippines-Department of National Defense (UP-DND) agreement that secretary Delfin Lorenzana wants ended stemmed from an abduction of an employee inside the campus in 1989, alumni recalled.

UP College of Mass Communications professor Danilo Arao said their Philippine Collegian employee Donato Continente was abducted on the night of June 16, 1989 in front of the university’s Vinzon’s Hall by covert operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“As a news writer of the Philippine Collegian (at the time), I remember the abduction of our staff Donato Continente on the night of June 16 at Vinzons Hall. He was tortured and forced to confess to the killing of Col. James Rowe. This is why the UP-DND accord was signed 14 days later,” Arao said.

Rowe was a United States military advisor to the then Corazon Aquino government under the Joint US Military Advisory Group who was killed by the New People’s Army’s (NPA) Alex Boncayao Brigade.

Arao recalled that the so-called arresting officers “acted like goons who just simply forced Donat (Continente’s nickname) inside a vehicle.

“[H]e was brought to (Camp) Crame but he was surfaced the day after (or two days after) the abduction, the now journalism professor recalled of the covert operations.

“Donat’s abduction was frightening then. He was simply snatched in front of Vinzon’s Hall. Extrajudicial killing was rampant then and we were very worried for him,” he added in Filipino.

After being convicted with fellow Kabataan para sa Demokrasya at Nasyonalismo member Juanito Itaas, Continente was released in 2005.

BACKREAD: Who was Col. James Rowe and his alleged assassins

Unilateral abrogation

In a letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion, Lorenzana said the agreement is “terminated or abrogated effective this date (January 15).”

The agreement prevents state forces from entering UP campuses without coordinating with the university administration.

It was signed between then UP President Jose Abueva and national defense secretary Fidel Ramos on June 30, 1989 disallowing military and police presence on campus.

It was an update of the so-called Sotto-Enrile Accord of 1982 between then League of Filipino Students chairperson Sonia Sotto and national defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile as the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship formally ended its Martial Law.

In his letter, Lorenzana cited alleged Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA recruitment in UP and to prevent further alienation between UP students and the State’s armed forces as reasons for his decision.

“We want them (the students) to see their Armed Forces and Police as protectors worthy of trust, not fear,” Lorenzana claimed.

UP’s strong stance on human rights have always been a source of irritation to the State’s defense establishment. (Photo by Maricon Montajes/Kodao)

What the Agreement says

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general and former UP student Renato Reyes, Jr. said it is crucial to remember what happened to Continente in understanding why the agreement came into being.

“[It] triggered discussions on the conduct of military operations on campus…[as it] laid down guidelines in the conduct of police and military operations so that what happened to Donat in UP would not be repeated,” Reyes said.

Among the accord’s important provisions is one that requires the AFP and PNP to notify the UP administration of military and police operations including the serving of search and arrest warrants inside UP.

“The military cannot just enter UP campus grounds at any time, unless there is an emergency or there is hot pursuit of suspects, or unless there is a request for police assistance by the administration,” Reyes explained.

The UP-DND accord also prohibits the AFP and PNP from interfering in peaceful protest actions inside UP premises. Such protests are the responsibility of the UP administration.

UP campuses nationwide had been the venues of protest actions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns and the Rodrigo Duterte’s prohibitions of rallies last year.

Under the accord, the AFP and PNP must also notify the UP administration at the soonest possible time of any arrest of a UP student, faculty or personnel.

The agreement also states that no UP student, faculty or personnel should be subjected to custodial investigation without first informing the UP President or Chancellor and without the presence of a lawyer, Reyes said.

“The UP-DND accord provides safeguards for the rights of the members of the UP community against historically proven rights abuses, such as the case of Donato Continente. That the DND wants the accord terminated tells us it wants a repeat of those abuses,” he warned.

“What happens now? Everything that the accord prohibits, the DND now wants allowed. Yung dating bawal, pwede na. Yung dating safeguards, wala na. That is the implication of the accord’s termination,” Reyes said.

Continente still has to reply to Kodao’s request for comment while UP has yet to issue an official statement on Lorenzana’s letter. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)           

Groups condemn attack on Kule

Media groups condemned the reported attack on Philippine Collegian by suspected government intelligence operatives late Saturday night, November 16.

The Union of Journalists of the Philippines-UP (UJP-UP) and the People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya) said the incident is an act of intimidation against the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

In an alert, the Philippine Collegian reported that a certain Wilfredo Manapat forcibly entered their office at around 9:30 in the evening at the Sampaguita Residence Hall.

When confronted by Collegian staff members, Manapat reportedly said he was there to “do an inspection as part of surveillance.”

Two of Manapat’s companions stood outside the building, the Collegian said.

The Collegian staff immediately called up UP-Diliman chancellor Michael Tan who apparently ordered the dispatch of campus police officers to arrest the trespasser.

Manapat was subsequently brought to the UP-Diliman police station and, when pressed, claimed he was merely looking for his colleagues. 

“In light of the recent attacks against the press, we stand with the Philippine Collegian and denounce this blatant intimidation against student publications,” UJP UP-Diliman, an association of mass communications students, said in a statement.

“This is a clear attempt of state oppressors to unnerve media entities that maintain a line of reportage reflective of the real social-political situation of the public,” the group added.

Altermidya for its part said it views the incident as a brazen attack on Philippine Collegian and the campus press.

The incident came a day after Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año warned that the National Youth Camp being held in UP might be used by “communist front groups” to agitate and recruit students.

“We warn Secretary Año, who himself is implicated in the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, against further labeling student organizations as communist fronts and therefore treated as targets by state security forces. Red-tagging always precedes grave human rights violations as we have seen in the recent raids and arrests of activists,” Altermidya said.

Altermidya pointed out that the Saturday’s incident was not the first time this year that members of the campus press have been red-tagged and subjected to surveillance and harassment by state security forces.

In August 2019, police visited the office of The Pillar of University of Eastern Philippines and interrogated its editor-in-chief.

In Bicol, police officers also red-tagged campus journalists from Ateneo de Naga University and Baao Community College, who were also officers of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines. 

“We stand in solidarity with the campus press, and call on our colleagues in the media and concerned citizens to denounce the State’s attempts to silence critics,” Altermidya said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

UP students, nagprotesta kontra suspensyon ng mga patnugot ng Rebel Kule

Nagsagawa ng isang kilos-protesta ang mga mag-aaral ng Universidad ng Pilipinas sa Diliman noong Hunyo 26 sa Quezon Hall kontra sa ipinataw na suspensyon sa mga patnugot ng Rebel Collegian.

Ayon sa mga estudyante, hindi katanggap-tanggap ang desisyon na iginawad ng University Council Executive Committee (EC) na suspensyon sa pitong mamamahayag pang-kampus.

Nauna nang ipinawalang-sala ang mga patnugot ng Student Disciplinary Council subalit binaligtad ito ng EC noong Hunyo 20.

Kinasuhan ang pitong patnugot ng fraud, disobedience and stealing nang sinasabing admin-installed editor in chief ng Philippine Collegian na si Jayson Edward San Juan matapos hindi i-turnover ang social media account ng Collegian, bagay na iginiit ng Rebel Kule na hindi ito pagmamay-ari kailanman ng publikasyon. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

The UP ‘Rebel Kule’ case: Flatlining free expression

Altermidya Network, the broad alliance of alternative media and community journalists groups in the Philippines, denounces the patently unreasonable manner in which the University of the Philippines Diliman’s Executive Committee (EC) ordered the suspension of the editorial board of the “Rebel Kule.”

The EC on June 21 overturned the earlier decision of the UP Diliman Student Disciplinary Council (SDC) to dismiss the charges of stealing, fraud, and disobedience filed by Philippine Collegian outgoing editor-in-chief Jayson Edward San Juan against the editors of Rebel Kule. The charges were based on allegations of misconduct in relation to the use of the Facebook and Twitter accounts that San Juan claimed were among the Collegian’s digital assets.

The EC – composed of the university’s deans and directors, the chancellor, vice chancellor, the university registrar, and other officials – released a two-page decision suspending the members of the Rebel Kule editorial board for one semester and five weeks, without even explaining why it has overturned the SDC’s earlier ruling, which said that San Juan’s accusations had “no sufficient basis.”

Among those to be suspended is incoming Philippine Collegian EIC Beatrice Puente, making her assumption of the position problematic. Also suspended are three graduating editors who were excluded from the graduation list this semester.

Rebel Kule has pointedly emphasized how due process was grossly set aside – both by the EC and the SDC – by not informing the respondents that San Juan appealed the SDC’s decision. Neither was the respondents given a copy of the appeal. Worse, the highest academic body in UP’s flagship campus made its decision with neither enough justification nor reason.

Not only is this move a dangerous precedent for campus publications throughout the country, it also undermines the University of the Philippines’ reputation as a bastion of free speech and expression by  imposing unwarranted penalties on students who dared continue the Philippine Collegian’s progressive tradition.

We have witnessed how, in times of turmoil, Rebel Kule persisted in reporting relevant issues that students and the UP community needed to know.

Is this how UP works now: haphazardly releasing decisions without the benefit of either logic or reason? Has the malady of oppression and repression besieging the nation now also adversely affected what was once a bastion of dissent?

The entire nation is besieged by the killing of journalists, the warrantless arrests against regime critics, and the harassments — and it seems that the country’s premier university has become just one more government institution similarly engaged in repression.

Just as we must hold accountable the UP Diliman administration and call for it to correct what we deem as a grave mistake, we must all unite in combating the darkness enveloping the nation. We cannot allow our civil liberties to flatline, and with it the country’s hopes for a true democracy. #