SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF SEN. FRANCIS “KIKO” PANGILINAN ON PROPOSED SENATE RESOLUTION 616

Thank you, Mr. President, Majority Leader, colleagues. Magandang hapon.

Given the uncertainties and fears brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the anxieties and worries of the rising food prices, this representation would like to welcome the decision of the Department of National Defense, through its Secretary, Secretary Lorenzana, to hold a dialogue with the University of the Philippines on the termination of the 1989 UP-DND Accord.

Ayaw na nating dagdagan pa ng alalahanin ang taumbayan na mabigat na ang pinapasan araw-araw.

Gaya ng ginawa nating mga hearing sa Covid management at vaccine roll-out, at maging ang naka-schedule na hearing sa darating na Lunes tungkol sa mataas na presyo ng pagkain, dialogue at pag-uusap ang pinakamahusay na paraan sa paghahanap ng mga solusyon sa mga problema — sa usaping ito, ang mga na-raise na issue ay kapayapaan, seguridad, kalayaan, at kahusayan.

At dahil gusto nating mapalawig o ma-extend ang magagandang probisyon at bunga ng UP-DND Accord sa lahat ng mga educational institutions, we further urge the DND to hold dialogues with other educational institutions and find a common ground that promotes peace and security, protects academic freedom, the pursuit of excellence and the rule of law.

At dahil mas productive mag-dialogue kaysa mag-away, we would also like to urge both parties — UP and the DND — to reconsider the abrogation of the Accord. Because after all, the Accord is in essence, the product of dialogue.

Last week, soon after the UP-DND Accord was terminated, we filed Senate Resolution 616. The resolution, introduced by myself, Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon, and Senators Nancy Binay, Leila De Lima, Risa Hontiveros, Ralph Recto, and Joel Villanueva, and supported by Senator Dick Gordon. Mr. President, a number of developments have taken place since the proposed resolution was filed last week and as such, this representation believes, the resolution as is will need to be amended at the proper time to reflect these important developments.

Among them is the public statement as we earlier mentioned of Secretary Lorenzana, who has reached out, based on news reports to President Danny Concepcion of UP, as he has agreed to dialogue with the UP community. Another development was the AFP publicly apologizing for the incident wherein the Armed Forces of the Philippines red-tagged and erroneously included in a list of alleged New People’s Army recruits some UP alumni, including former public servants.

Also, last Saturday, January 23, General Antonio Parlade Jr. named 18 schools where the NPA allegedly recruits students. The list includes the country’s top universities including UP, PUP, FEU, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, and the royal pontifical University of Santo Tomas, among others. FEU, Ateneo, La Salle, and UST have since issued a joint statement denouncing the statements attributed to General Parlade and objecting to the accusations. The Joint statement was signed by Dr. Michael Alva, president of FEU; Bro. Raymond Suplido, president of De La Salle; Fr. Isaias D Tiongco, Vice Rector of the University of Santo Tomas; and Fr. Robert C. Yap, president, Ateneo De Manila University.

Kailangan na talagang mag-usap. Lumalaki ang gulo. Tingin ko, maaayos ang mga gusot sa isang malaya at bukás na usapan o dialogue.

Pwedeng kasama sa dialogue ang sinasabing “hotbed” di umano ng mga rebelde ang mga pamantasan. Totoo ba ito? Kung totoo, maiiwasan ba ito sa pag-terminate ng sinasabing Accord? Ano ang mga iba pang paraan para hindi mag-armas ang mga estudyante? Ano ang dahilan ng pag-aaklas? What are the root causes of insurgency, among others?

Gusto ko lang sagutin ang tanong sa kung special ba ang UP?

Naging aktibista kasi po ako noon. I would say that that has been a defining moment of my life. I would’ve been perhaps a corporate lawyer or a literature professor or even living abroad had I not become an activist. Activism was my love language for our country and for our people. Activism also brought me here now to the halls of the Senate, serving our country, serving our people.

Dito sa Senado, iba-iba tayo ng pinanggalingan, pero sa huli, gusto lang nating maglingkod sa bayan, sa sambayanang Pilipino.

And academic freedom, which includes the freedom to think, speak, move, and even dissent critically, is a freedom that everyone is entitled to. A freedom that UP allowed its students, activists or not. And a freedom that everyone must enjoy.

We hope that this resolution will inspire an open and transparent, as well as a participatory and inclusive dialogue among all parties.

At the proper time, Mr. President, we shall propose to amend the title of this resolution to read as follows: “Resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to welcome the Department of National Defense’s (DND) decision to answer the various calls for dialogue with the University of the Philippines (UP) on the termination of the 1989 UP-DND Accord, to urge both parties to reconsider the abrogation of the Accord, and to further urge the DND to hold dialogues with other academic institutions and find a common ground that promotes peace and security and protects academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence.”

With this proposed amendment that we will introduce at the proper time, it is hoped that the Senate will adopt proposed Senate Resolution 616.

Magandang hapon at maraming salamat po.