University of the Philippines

UP Diliman: CHED chief De Vera fails mandate to defend academic freedom

Bonz Magsambol
UP Diliman: CHED chief De Vera fails mandate to defend academic freedom

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The University of the Philippines Diliman University Council says they are ‘appalled that [their] call for solidarity’ in the defense of academic freedom was used by the CHED chief to criticize UP and its leaders

The University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman University Council on Monday, November 8, issued a strongly worded statement in response to Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Prospero De Vera III’s statement that UP should respect the decision of other schools to remove the “subversive” books.

“We are appalled that our call for solidarity for all HEIs (higher education institutions) to participate in the defense of academic freedom has been used by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chair J. Prospero De Vera III to criticize UP and its leaders,” the UP Diliman University Council said.

They added: “As such he has failed to fulfill CHED’s mandate as stated in Republic Act No. 7722, which is the defense of academic freedom.”

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The UP Diliman University Council is composed of the chancellor (serving as chair), professors, associate professors, and assistant professors.

On November 2, De Vera said that UP officials should 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.

He added that the removal of materials was “done by individual higher education institutions in the exercise of academic freedom.”

‘Dangerous precedent’

“The removal of books based on ideological criteria is anathema to academic freedom and undermines the role of academic institutions as repositories of thought. This sets a dangerous precedent and a move towards the censorship of our universities,” the UP Diliman University Council said. 

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On October 30, UP Diliman released a statement opposing the removal of allegedly subversive books from libraries, saying the action was a “clear example of censorship” and a “slaughter of knowledge.”

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 from their libraries at the behest of the military and the local End Local Communist Armed Conflict body. — Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.