DND, UP officials urged to hold dialogue ‘with an open mind’

Senator Pia S. Cayetano urged officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to engage in dialogue with an open mind, and in the spirit of finding solutions to differences that led to the unilateral abrogation of the 1989 UP-DND accord.

“I ask both parties to come in with an open mind. Come in assuming that you have a child studying there [in UP],” Cayetano said Tuesday, as the Senate tackled a resolution expressing its sense to welcome the DND’s decision to answer various calls for a dialogue with UP on the termination of the long-standing agreement.

The senator, who earned her economics and law degrees from UP, said the unilateral abrogation of the accord “sends the wrong signal that we cannot even appreciate what was done in the past,” that led the two parties to come to an agreement in 1989.

“I read the statement of [former UP] President [Jose] Abueva on how he and [then Defense Secretary Fidel] Ramos had mutual respect for each other, and so it made it easy for them to come to this agreement. That is what we need at this time, not unilateral actions, which may be based on information that is perceived as facts by one side, but not necessarily facts on the other side,” Cayetano said.

“I am a proud graduate of UP, as so many of our other colleagues are here. UP has molded me. I was never an activist. I was more of a volleyball player, trying to get good grades. My brother, now Congressman Alan Cayetano, was an activist. So iba-iba ang nagiging experience, iba-iba din ang nagiging outcome nitong experiences namin. And we come out, in many ways, molded, inspired, touched by our experiences in UP,” the lawmaker added.

Senate Resolution No. 616, of which Cayetano manifested to be a co-author along with fellow senators, further urged both parties to revisit the accord. It also called on the DND to hold dialogues with other academic institutions to find a common ground that promotes the rule of law, peace, and security, and protects academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence.

Cayetano recalled that she brought the UP Women’s Football Team to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) for “a light and fun exchange” between the students and the cadets.

“One of the little efforts that I have done – and I know it’s a very small effort – is I’ve brought the UP Women’s Football Team to PMA twice, so that there would be a light and fun exchange [and] getting-to-know-you among these students of UP and the cadets of PMA. That was done in the spirit of sportsmanship. I think it was a step in the right direction,” she said.

“Sana, ‘yan din ang ipakita natin, tayong mga leaders of these various institutions at the highest level. So that we can really move in that direction — in the spirit of friendship, in the spirit of finding solutions, and not just making a conclusion that ‘my way is better than your way,'” Cayetano concluded. #

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