“The right to decide “what to teach” includes the right to decide what not to teach.”
Last month, three state universities purged their onsite and online libraries of subversive publications, mostly books published by the local communist organization euphemistically called the National Democratic Front. The three state universities are the Kalinga State University (KSU), the Isabela State University (ISU), and the Aklan State University (ASU).
The banned subversive materials promote communism and entice idealistic UP students to join the communist insurgency led by the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the New People’s Army.
Many UP students have been brainwashed by these publications into joining the local communist movement, which calls for the forceful overthrow of the duly-elected government, and its replacement with a repressive, intolerant Maoist state headed by the nation’s most prominent communist rebel, Jose Maria Sison.
Amado Guerrero (Sison’s pen name) is currently in the Netherlands enjoying a life of luxury, supported by funds extorted by local communists in the nation’s countryside.
In a memorandum it later issued, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) office in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) encouraged higher educational institutions in the region to purge their onsite and online libraries of subversive materials.
Many officials and faculty members of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, quickly reacted by condemning the action taken by the KSU, ISU and ASU, as well as the memorandum issued by the CHEd office in the CAR.
According to the UP officials and faculty members, banning the subversive publications from the libraries of the KSU, ISU and ASU violates freedom of speech and academic freedom. They claim that the administrators of the three state universities and the CHEd should not interfere with what students of those three state universities want to read.
Surprisingly, the UP officials and faculty members insisted that tertiary educational institutions, UP included, should be tolerant of all sides of the political spectrum.
Earlier this week, the University Council in UP Diliman, an assembly of professors led by Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo, convened an online meeting to condemn the ban on subversive publications in the libraries of the KSU, ISU and ASU. The mindset of many is that the ban is an abridgment of freedom of speech and academic freedom, and that the ban itself should be attributed to the government under President Rodrigo Duterte.
In my opinion, UP, my dear alma mater, is sticking its nose in something that is manifestly none of its business.
UP does not have a monopoly of academic freedom. The Constitution states that “academic freedom shall be enjoyed by all institutions of higher learning.”
Jurisprudence teaches that the academic freedom enjoyed by institutions of higher learning includes the right to decide what to teach, and how to teach it. Necessarily, the right to decide “what to teach” includes the right to decide what not to teach.
Thus, if the officialdoms in the KSU, ISU and ASU do not want to teach or promote communism in their respective campuses, it is well within their rights and prerogatives, as institutions of higher learning, to prohibit communist-inspired and similar subversive publications from their respective on site and online libraries.
Restated, the KSU, ISU and ASU should not be condemned for exercising their academic freedom.
UP may be the leading university in the country, but it has no right, power or prerogative to interfere in the academic freedom of other universities, whether private or state-run. By criticizing the decision of the KSU, ISU and ASU to ban subversive publications from their on site and online libraries, UP is actually violating and interfering with the academic freedom of the three state universities.
Moreover, there is nothing in the UP charter which allows UP or its officialdom and faculty to interfere with the academic freedom of other state universities. Thus, UP’s interference in the academic freedom of the Kalinga State University, Isabela State University and the Aklan State University is ultra vires and, therefore, illegal.
I wish to add that UP’s surprising claim —that UP is tolerant of all sides of the political spectrum — is false. Persons, groups and activities identified with the late President Ferdinand Marcos and the incumbent President Duterte are threatened, dispersed, bullied, or violently attacked inside the campus. Only communists, radicals and their sympathizers are welcome in UP’s much touted but imaginary “democratic space.”
Dean Carlo Vistan of the UP College of Law should know that UP’s interference in the affairs of other universities is illegal and unconstitutional. He should enlighten the non-lawyers among the UP officials and faculty.
UP President Danilo Concepcion, who was criticized in The Manila Times as a spineless university president afraid of left-wing groups in UP, should disprove that by insisting that UP should mind its own business.