Today, the University of the Philippines, through its Board of Regents, decides its fate by electing a new UP president.
Two candidates for UP president have been the subject of my commentaries the past few weeks. They are incumbent UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo, and former UP BOR member Angelo “Jijil” Jimenez.
It is common knowledge in UP that Nemenzo is sympathetic to the reds. Under his term as UP Diliman Chancellor, the campus was a haven for anti-administration activities. Pro-government rallies were not encouraged.
If elected UP President, Nemenzo is expected to make UP a center of activities against the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
It was evident to me that during the campaign leading to the May 2022 presidential and vice presidential elections, UP Diliman under Nemenzo was virtually in favor of the de facto Liberal Party ticket of Leni Robredo and Francis Pangilinan.
This was manifested in the public statements of certain UP administrators, faculty and students.
Whether the noisy administrators, faculty and students represent the majority of the UP Diliman community has not been ascertained.
What was obvious was the noisy sector of UP was staunchly anti-Bongbong Marcos and anti-Sara Duterte during the campaign.
For president, they preferred Robredo, a lackluster one-time congressman whose only claim to fame was that she is the widow of a President Noynoy Aquino era underling who once took a bus on the way home to the Bicol region.
Their choice for vice president was Pangilinan, a traditional politician who claimed on television that if he is elected vice president, the cost of food will drastically go down.
It was a patently false campaign claim, considering that the price of food products depends on market forces.
Besides, the vice president does not have either executive or legislative power that can affect the price of prime commodities, food included.
Nemenzo’s father was once UP president, and the son wants to be like the father.
The problem is that Nemenzo has barely finished his first term as UP Diliman Chancellor. His term, mostly covered by the COVID-19 pandemic, was passive and hardly noticeable.
How some 58 opinionated artists, scientists and UP faculty members were able to endorse Nemenzo for UP president despite his brief, inconsequential tenure as UP Diliman Chancellor is baffling.
Just like Nemenzo, Jimenez is also staunchly anti-Marcos. Unlike Nemenzo, however, Jimenez is a pinklawan and another rabid Noynoy Aquino minion like Robredo.
When Noynoy was President of the country, Jimenez managed to get himself appointed by Noynoy to the UP BOR.
Everybody knows that Noynoy Aquino extremely dislikes the Marcos family.
Aquino’s incompetent administration is best remembered by the blatant abuses of the congressional pork barrel system, and the questionable impeachment and ouster of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Jimenez was a member of the UP BOR when UP allowed the use of more than a hectare of prime land in UP Diliman for the site of the controversial “martial law museum” which will glorify the role of President Corazon Aquino in the downfall of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. back in 1986.
At the very least, the martial law museum is partisan in character because it will showcase the alleged evils of the Marcos Sr. administration; laud communists who tried to overthrow the duly-constituted government of the Philippines and replacing it with one subservient to Red China; and praise the administrations of the mother and son Aquinos.
UP real estate cannot be used for partisan purposes.
Even if the martial law museum were not partisan in character, UP real estate should not be used to host a museum the objectivity of which is highly disputable.
UP land should not be used for political propaganda.
In my opinion, the martial law museum is a testament to the alliance of local communists and pro-Aquino elements.
Ultimately, a UP President manages not just UP Diliman but the entire UP System, which is made up of different campuses.
The job requires sufficient executive experience in university management, enforcement of university policies and rules, and dealing with university personnel and students.
Jimenez does not have that requisite experience.
Outside his non-executive tenure as a UP regent, Jimenez has never held any ranking office in UP which requires actual administrative know-how.
If Nemenzo, who has hardly been an effective UP executive, is not fit to be UP President, with all the more reason should the inexperienced Jimenez be unsuited to be one.
In a recent global study, UP lost its status as the premier university of the country. Based on their credentials, I doubt if Nemenzo or Jimenez can restore UP’s academic prestige.
I trust that the UP president the UP BOR will elect will have no partisan connections, and has enough experience as a competent UP administrator.