UP’s plight can happen to others, too
As the news of the abrogation of the accord between the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) rages on, I read comments that the country’s premier state university shouldn’t use the threat to academic freedom as an excuse, when its students and academe in the past have called out other institutions, particularly those run by the Catholic Church, for supposed discriminatory policies which they said were similar infringements on those schools’ academic freedom.
But while red-tagging and persecution of Catholic doctrine may be of similar nature in the discrimination scale, the power level of the players involved are not comparable and, therefore, makes the comparison unfair. UP is standing up against a government with immense political power and forces at its disposal. UP may be the forerunner in calling out government sins, but it is usually forgotten that other schools also have voices, though not as loud and prominent as UP’s. And most do not have the privilege of having an agreement like the 1989 UP-DND accord.
The abrogation, in fact, also has other effects outside academic freedom: Take Catholic schools and their student organizations, for example, where statements on calling out the government stem from moral doctrine. As leaders of the Church are already being red-tagged, it is now easier to speculate, irresponsibly, that vocal Catholic schools harbor rebellious cells, and that students of these institutions are being indoctrinated.
The abrogation certainly does not help the DND’s desire to restore confidence in our uniformed men and women, and only shows ignorance of the issues at stake.
Arnel Christopher Calatrava, [email protected]
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