Last April, the UP Board of Regents elected incumbent UP College of Law Dean Edgardo Carlo Vistan II chancellor of Diliman, UP’s flagship campus, to serve from 2023 to 2025.
Vistan bested two other rivals for the post, namely, a certain Victor Paz, and Fidel Nemenzo, the outgoing chancellor who was seeking re-election.
Nemenzo has been criticized for his sympathies towards the radicals and leftists in UP.
During his lackluster term as UP Diliman chancellor, Nemenzo allowed the campus to be used as fora for anti-government rallies and demonstrations.
Reports have it that groups favoring the administration of then President Rodrigo Duterte were not allowed inside the campus.
In 2021, the UP Diliman Executive Committee opposed the bid of Atty. Harry Roque, then President Duterte’s spokesman, for a seat in the United Nations International Law Commission. The committee was headed by Nemenzo.
Other than the dean of the College of Law, nobody among the committee members is a lawyer, much less an expert in international law.
How the committee could competently declare Roque unfit for a seat in the International Law Commission is a mystery.
The committee also claimed that Roque has a bad record in human rights cases, but it conveniently overlooked the fact that Roque served as counsel for many Filipino “comfort women” who sought retribution for the sexual assaults committed against them by Japanese soldiers during World War II in the Philippines.
Evidently, the UP Diliman Executive Committee went beyond its field of competence in opposing Roque’s bid.
Its behavior also reveals officials of UP Diliman are so full of themselves that they think they have a monopoly of wisdom.
Days before he lost his re-election bid, Nemenzo was at the forefront in denouncing Quezon City policemen who enforced a warrant of arrest on a UP Diliman professor, who had a pending criminal case in the Regional Trial Court over alleged non-payment of employer’s social security contributions.
Nemenzo and his kind labeled the arrest as a violation of the academic freedom of UP, even if the case involves a private matter with absolutely no bearing on academic freedom.
It was almost as if Nemenzo wanted UP professors to be exempted from the law.
All that likely led the UP Board of Regents not to re-elect Nemenzo as chancellor.
Like the UP Diliman chancellor, the UP president is elected by the UP Board of Regents.
In December last year, Nemenzo ran for UP President, but he failed to get the UP Board of Regents on his side.
At the time Nemenzo sought re-election as chancellor, a small group of academics from UP Diliman endorsed his candidacy. He also had the support of the radicals in the Diliman campus.
After Nemenzo lost the vote, a mob of radicals trooped to the UP Diliman administration building and attempted to force their way inside the meeting room of the Board of Regents.
When they failed to get their way, the mob defaced university property.
Nobody among the faculty members supporting Nemenzo condemned the mob rule.
I have not encountered any statement from Nemenzo which criticized the violence ostensibly committed in support of his candidacy.
In the aftermath of Nemenzo’s defeat, the same academics from UP Diliman scored Vistan’s election on the ground that Vistan does not have a doctorate degree in Philosophy (commonly called a PhD), unlike Nemenzo and Paz.
From that statement, it looks like those UP academics are extremely obsessed with PhDs, in that one who has no PhD is unfit to run a university. That view is not only an example of non sequitur; it is also bereft of legal basis.
A PhD may give rise to a disputable presumption that the holder is extensively educated, but it doesn’t mean the holder is more intelligent than one who has no PhD.
Many PhD holders I have met in my lifetime may be learned, but they are unable to articulate effectively in a discussion.
A large number of them can’t even speak in straight English, or are unable to address a big audience.
Running a university effectively is a responsibility that requires administrative competence. One who has a PhD is not necessarily knowledgeable about administrative work.
The UP charter does not require that the UP Diliman chancellor must have a PhD. If the law does not require it, the noisy pro-Nemenzo academics have no valid reason to demand one from Vistan.
Edgardo Angara, Alfredo Pascual and Danilo Concepcion do not have PhDs but they became UP presidents. Why then should a UP chancellor need a PhD?
He does not need a PhD to run UP Diliman.
Vistan graduated from UP with academic honors, holds an undergraduate and a master’s degree in Law, and has had extensive administrative experience as law school dean.