Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero de Vera III told officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) to be “more prudent, circumspect, respectful and discerning” in issuing statements after the latter condemned the removal of supposedly subversive materials from some state university libraries.
In a statement on Tuesday night, November 2, De Vera said that the decision to remove books and other reading materials in a university library is “done by individual higher education institutions (HEIs) in the exercise of academic freedom.”
“There are reasons why some HEIs have decided to remove materials donated by government-declared Communist-Terrorist Groups (CTGs) in their libraries,” De Vera said.
“School authorities in these HEIs are in the best position to explain why. They are given sufficient administrative discretions under existing laws,” he added.
The CHED chief said that the decision of other HEIs must be respected “in [the] spirit of mutual respect and proper governance of their institutions.”
“I know that there are many HEIs that are critical of the policies adopted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman officials and the way they run their campus but they are not issuing statements out of mutual respect for the governance of individual public universities,” De Vera said.
On Saturday, October 30, UP Diliman said that the removal of allegedly subversive books from libraries was a “clear example of censorship” and a “slaughter of knowledge.”
“Ang pagtatanggal ng mga piling materyales ay isang malinaw na halimbawa ng censorship at pagkitil sa kaalaman. Pag-abandona ito sa kalayaang mag-isip, magtanong, at magsaliksik; at sa kalayaang tumuklas ng katotohanan batay sa sariling kakayahan ng mga mag-aaral,” UP said.
(The removal of the materials was a clear example of censorship and slaughter of knowledge. This is abandonment of the freedom to think, question, and research; and the freedom to discover the truth based on students’ capabilities.)
UP released the statement after three state universities – Kalinga State University, Isabela State University, and Aklan State University – removed publications related to the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) from their libraries at the behest of the military and the local End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) body.