Statement on the Legal Protection and Defense of Academic Freedom

Fidel Nemenzo
Chancellor, UP Diliman


I reiterate strongly UP Diliman’s stand on the defense of academic freedom.  We stand with lawmakers who seek to institutionalize it to law—not to circumscribe and limit it, but to protect and ensure that it continues to nourish freedom of thought, creative expression, critical examination, and innovative solutions-making.  Our constituents must be able to openly express their sentiments free from fear of legal persecution, threats of arrests and violent hostility.

Institutions of higher learning will only flourish in an atmosphere where the life of the mind reigns supreme and unfettered by any and all kinds of censorship. Developing a questioning and inquiring mind, one that challenges conventional wisdom and the status quo and the intellectual and creative pursuit for truth is what we hope to instill in our students in a spirit of honor, excellence and public service. It is by cultivating and nourishing this intellectual and creative atmosphere that the humanities, the natural and social sciences and other disciplines will flourish.

We remind everyone that academic freedom is enshrined, not only in the UP Charter, but in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Contrary to many accusations, the rule of law recognizes and upholds this cherished principle when it clearly states in Article XIV, Section 5.2 of the Philippine Constitution that “academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning.”

This could not be any clearer. Academic freedom lies at the heart of democratic practice and governance; it lies at the heart of public service.

This is why UP continues to remain vigilant against threats to this freedom, and calls for everyone to support all efforts, within and outside the halls of Congress (and the Senate), to protect this freedom. Citizens have the responsibility to participate in our democratic system of checks and balances to ensure accountability and promote the public good. Academic freedom has been key to the sustenance of UP’s best traditions of honor and excellence. But this is not only about UP and intellectual inquiry; we protect this freedom because it protects everyone’s freedom — to think freely, learn safely, serve with integrity, and live with dignity.

Let us uphold our rights. Let us defend academic freedom. Defend democracy.


Note: This statement was written and signed on Thursday, May 13, 2021, and was presented before the UPD Office of the Chancellor Executive Staff and UPD Executive Committee on the same day.