Sec. Lorenzana: a rare gem in today’s government service | Inquirer Opinion
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Sec. Lorenzana: a rare gem in today’s government service

/ 04:05 AM January 27, 2021

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is target today of vicious criticisms in mainstream and social media after he unilaterally abrogated the controversial AFP-UP accord. But one could only wonder what prompted the soft spoken but maverick secretary to lock horns this time with the fighting academe of our premier university.

In TV interviews, he said the cancellation was not against UP but to “actually protect the students, faculty and the employees”. He admitted being influenced by grieving parents of students who turned combatants of the New People’s Army. The League of Parents of the Philippines (LPP) , composed of parents of slain students recruited into NPA, led recent mass actions  denouncing UP, PUP and other universities as recruitment grounds of the Communists. They also faced congressional inquiries that triggered  the raging “redtagging” issue today.

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If one analyzes, this is a classic issue of “separation” in which one partner decides  to discontinue their relationship. Simply put, the Armed Forces of the Philippines ended its 1969 contract to UP and other Universities because of unexplained “irreconciliable differences.” And like in marriages with its legal ramifications, the jilted partner cannot  force his counterpart to change his mind and go back to their normal lives. 

So from hereon, what we want to see are respect and acceptance of both parties under their new set-up. 

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The people should hear out and believe the oppositors who are denouncing  the dangerous issues of “redtagging” and possible “liquidation list” for some university personalities. At the same time , we should also hear out the alleged “infiltration of academic freedom” inside campuses propounded  by military and police. 

They must also respect the declaration of university officers and students that UP is not a recruitment ground for communists” but today as a hotbed of “student activism”.

And conversely, they should also listen to another side of the coin, the suffering parents  Mary Mariveles, Jacqueline Mendoza and Relissa Lucena whose children, former university students, became NPA fighters. Their cries influenced DND Sec. Lorenzana to dissolve the 51 year old accord.

Moving forward, these acceptance of realities must merit “respect” for all  opposing sides, “academic freedom with activism”, and  “law and order enforcement ” co-existing  peacefully inside and outside  Universities,  sans formal accords. 

This is real democracy in action, where people will listen to all conflicting arguments and peacefully agree or disagree with it.

Finally, let us continue to respect the mandate of the 72-year old Defense secretary Lorenzana to safeguard both internal and external threats to our nation.  Many times, he has shown “independent mindedness” , some opposed to his boss, President Duterte. But upon assumption as DND head in 2016, Lorenzana is successfully managing the progressing AFP modernization of our country, still the weakest in ASEAN,  Today, we are very close to realizing for the first time in our history,  our military’s  “minimum credible defense capability” to guard our territories. And he is doing it without corruption scandals despite  in the multi-billion peso  government to government bids and contracts.

I just hope that despite these controversies, he will still have the courage of conviction to continue “public service” to the end of his term for there are only a few good men today in government with real integrity, dedication and patriotism.

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