Official Statement of the UP Cebu Administration

Further to the initial statement of the Chancellor issued last Friday, she with the rest of the UP Cebu administration, demands for the immediate release of our students and alumni who were unduly arrested and detained, along with four others, for exercising their right to peaceful assembly in our campus that day.

The constitutional right of individuals to express their views publicly and to hold protests peacefully and safely is not proscribed under any law – not the Bayanihan Law, nor even under RA11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

Recent disturbing events on the steamrolled passage of anti-terrorism legislation by Congress and reported cases of abuse of authority by state officials and their agents, all the more demonstrate,  as an essential activity,  the right to peaceful protest in an outdoor setting.

The right to peaceful assembly is not proscribed even under the current national emergency.

After having reviewed video footages of the incident and documented accounts of witnesses of the protest against the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act last Friday, we strongly condemn the violent dispersal of the protest done by police forces, with many of their members in civilian clothing. Our students are not criminals and they were despicably manhandled by police force who were in full battle gear and heavy firearms during the arrest.  This is totally unacceptable.

As a democratic country in precarious conditions, we cannot tolerate intimidation or the unnecessary show and use of force in any form, especially when carried out by agents of the state imbued with constitutional duties to protect the public.

The UP Cebu administration maintains that the 1989 UP-DND Peace Accord be upheld and respected by our police forces. We have not sanctioned the entry of the police in our campus and we denounce their forceful trespassing to our premises. We call on the Mayor of Cebu City and the Chief of Cebu City Police Office to seriously look into this clear transgression against our constituents and our property.

We maintain that the University of the Philippines Cebu shall stay as a safe space of academic discourse, where our constituents remain free in their exercise of academic freedom, free from any form of threats, harassment, or intimidation.

We deem the proposed Anti-Terrorism Law as seriously flawed because of its failure to clearly operationalize the definition of “terrorism”. This sweeping anti-terrorism legislation will be prone to abuse and misuse by those whom the people have entrusted the authority to exercise the power, resources, and duties of the government.

We join the call to condemn all legislations, absent of careful and thorough deliberations, that would seek to expand arbitrary powers, and potentially impinge on the basic rights and civil liberties of citizens, particularly free speech and expression of dissent.

We urge the government to focus its efforts on our most urgent concern, which is the pandemic, and the dire human insecurity of hunger and lack of health provisions for our people. UP Cebu, as with the rest of the UP system, will continue to assist the government in providing for scientific and humanitarian services to help resolve this crisis.

This is what our people deserve. No less.

UP Cebu Administration