Open Letter of UPD Professors Emeriti to the UP Board of Regents

January 24, 2021

The Honorable Members
The Board of Regents
University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City

Through

Dr. Prospero E. de Vera
Chairman, Board of Regents

and

Atty. Danilo L. Concepcion
President, University of the Philippines

Dear Regents:

We the undersigned, Professors Emeriti of the University of the Philippines Diliman, wish to register our protest in the strongest terms against the recent unilateral abrogation by the Secretary of National Defense of the 1989 agreement between UP and the DND providing for certain protocols to govern the entry of security forces into UP’s campuses.

We find no tenable or compelling reason why this agreement, which largely served its intended purposes for over 30 years, should now be abrogated without at least the consultation owed to the parties that signed and implemented it in good faith. The letter of abrogation provides no specific instances and no supporting proof of where, when, and how the agreement failed—especially on UP’s part. And instead of giving the University community a clear idea of what the military intends to do on campus in lieu of the agreement—the new rules of engagement, as it were—we are left to anticipate, with grave apprehension, the return of the kind of authoritarian policing that we suffered under martial law.

The DND’s characterization of UP as a “safe haven for terrorists” and its attempt to hold the entire university responsible for the death of some of its students at the hands of government forces ignores a much larger aspect of UP that has consistently striven for peace, justice, and development in our society. We bemoan those tragic deaths, which we lay at the feet of the social ills that provoked the decisions those students took, and which we as a nation must seek to address. But we cannot allow them to be trivialized into a pretext to threaten academic freedom.

Indeed we see in these recent initiatives of the military establishment—not just in UP but in many other campuses as well—an effort to bring civil governance in these institutions to heel, to compel academic administrators to conform to State authority, no matter how unreasonable or contrary to time-honored academic practice. Our military institutions—and even our highest academic and administrative officials—must be reminded that UP is an intellectual meritocracy, as great universities should be, which is how it can best serve the nation.

We Professors Emeriti have served this University for most of our working lives, and have devoted our time and talents to the improvement of the Filipino future. We continue to work for our people’s peace and prosperity, and leave behind generations of students imbued with the same ideals of honor and excellence. We wield no power but that of our minds and our experience—which our government, business and industry, and society at large have freely drawn upon.

But at this crucial point in our beloved UP’s history, we feel compelled to speak as a body, organizing ourselves into an Oblation Forum, in defense of the need to keep UP—all our constituent universities—as a safe space for intellectual inquiry, without fear of external and internal threats from whatever source. We draw particular attention to the need for acknowledging our faculty as the prime authority with regard to their disciplinal expertise, and for this principle to be respected in all matters of academic governance. This, too, is a basic element in the operationalization of academic freedom.

We call on our Chairman, Dr. Prospero E. de Vera, and our President, Atty. Danilo Concepcion, to join us in working to strengthen the ramparts of our academic freedom against those who seek to weaken them, and, to that end, to uphold meritocracy over mediocrity, and collegial self-governance over authoritarian diktat, in both the long-term horizon and the day-to-day decisions of the Board.

We extend the honorable members of the Board our best wishes and our pledge of assistance in this fight ahead, and will await, with keen attention, your next decisions and actions on the issues facing the UP community.

Para sa sambayanan,

Gemino H. Abad
Grace J. Alfonso
Virgilio S. Almario
Violeta V. Bautista
Dante B. Canlas
Apolonio B. Chua
Ma. Cecilia Gastardo-Conaco
Gisela P. Concepcion
Lourdes J. Cruz
Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.
Randolf S. David
Emmanuel S. de Dios
Ma. Serena I. Diokno
Erlinda S. Echanis
Raul V. Fabella
Cecilia A. Florencio
Cristina P. Hidalgo
Elena R. Mirano
Solita C. Monsod
Francisco Nemenzo
Ernesto M. Pernia
Norma A. Respicio
Rafael A. Rodriguez
Emerlinda R. Roman
Ramon P. Santos
Gerardo P. Sicat
Polly W. Sy
Guillermo Q. Tabios III
Edita A. Tan
Michael L. Tan
Nicanor G. Tiongson
Amaryllis T. Torres
Corazon D. Villareal
Roy C. Ybañez
Rosario L. Torres-Yu

 

[NOTE: The University Faculty Manual defines professor emeritus as a title for life and is conferred upon retired faculty members in recognition of their exceptional achievements and exemplary service to the university.]

Posted: January 26, 2021 23:10