"What exactly is this animal called academic freedom?"
This is not gonna sit well with some of my friends. But I don’t believe the abrogation of the UP-DND Accord is an attack against academic freedom. Thus, I can’t see anything to stand for if their call for action is based on that.
Let’s go back to 1989 when the accord was signed. What was the gain for both parties, signatories to the accord, and who exactly gained from that?
No UP student, faculty, and personnel gained from the accord. In fact, it was detrimental to their security. As the 1989 Agreement requires that prior notice be given by the AFP, Philippine Constabulary, or the CAFGU intending to conduct military or police operations in any of the UP campuses, to the University President, the Chancellor of the constituent university, or the Dean of the regional unit concerned, or their respective officers-in-charge in the event of their absence, when the situation so warrants, the police force were effectively pulled out from the campuses of the UP System.
Now, how many of my friends have narrated their experiences of being held up inside the Diliman campus? And what about the frequent rumbles we have personally witnessed in the small eatery beside our favorite watering hole then—Gulod (I’m not sure what it is called now but I think it has since been converted into an art nook).
Actually, I think Gulod itself is a violation on the restrictions on the selling of liquor as it is well within the campus.
But anyway, how are these possible? It is because UP Diliman Campus is not strictly an academic campus. It is a diverse community which includes commercial areas (UP-Technohub comprise the largest), and even squatters’ areas. It’s time we put an end to this political correctness stupidity which sugarcoats every term at the whim of the advocates including terms for the most notorious criminal.
Just recently, I drove to Mang Larry’s Ihaw-ihaw (Yes, Mang Larry is also a squatter inside the campus) to get some barbecued pork intestine. But then, there was this guy projecting himself as a toughie who kept on bullying Mang Larry’s customers. To whom should we report him? No UP Police was in sight. I don’t even think they are aware the squatter’s area and even the commercial areas are part of their responsibility.
So, why was the accord signed? It was to further the political ambition of the former President Fidel Ramos, who signed the accord on behalf of the government in his capacity as then secretary of the DND.
The people that time, including the Left, were still high on the popular EDSA uprising. Signing that accord, would not only minimize or neutralize Ramos’ political opponents, but even gain him some supporters.
The accord was but superfluous that even the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines said it was unnecessary as even if the agreement contained provisions barring the AFP from interfering with peaceful protests they’re peaceful anyway), prohibiting the serving of warrants against any member of the academic community without prior notification to the University officials, and prohibiting the conduct of a custodial custody any member of the academic community, there is a provision which states “nothing herein shall be construed as a prohibition against the enforcement of the laws of the land.”
So, what about police or military operations on the squatters’ community who obviously are not members of the academic community? Don’t tell me that academic freedom some people are standing for is also their concern.
So, back to the argument of academic freedom. What exactly is this animal?
In a press statement, Gabriel Villanueva, OSG’s Spokesperson for the NTF, defines academic freedom as right of the school or college to decide for itself, its aims and objectives, and how best to attain them free from outside coercion or interference save possibly when the overriding public welfare calls for some restraint. Indeed, the Constitution allows merely the State’s regulation and supervision of educational institutions, and not the deprivation of their rights.
The essential freedoms subsumed in the term “academic freedom” encompasses the freedom to determine for itself on academic grounds: (1) Who may teach, (2) What may be taught, (3) How it shall be taught, and (4) Who may be admitted to study. Undeniably, the school’s prerogative to provide standards for its teachers and to determine whether these standards have been met is in accordance with academic freedom that gives the educational institution the right to choose who should teach.
Thus, with the abrogation of the accord, has the above-mentioned “freedom” been attacked? Has the abrogation of the agreement posed a threat to students of the University? What exactly is the threat if there is any? As a friend, radio commentator Jorge Bandola puts it, “Are students of UP now, suffering from fear of having a barrel of a gun pointed at their heads to claim they are no longer academically free?
Unfortunately, some people are joining the “fight for academic freedom bandwagon” even without knowing what the issues are, even posing more hardcore than the militant themselves. If there are cases of some people being more popish than the pope, these people who have taken the issue without even analyzing them, have become more activist than the activist themselves. Mas tibak pa sa tibak.
They have totally ignored the fact that the issue of academic freedom is nothing but a front, a propaganda tool. And all because they share a common enemy—this administration.
I myself am not a DDS. But I won’t fall for that trap. Not anymore.