‘Red-tagging has no place in U.P.’ – Diliman chancellor bet Nemenzo

MANILA, Philippines – Mathematics professor Fidel Nemenzo vowed to transform the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman into “a modern research university with a public mission” should he become its chancellor. 

In a forum where nominees for UP Diliman chancellor engaged with the community on Thursday, January 16, Nemenzo also reiterated his intention to uphold the university's activist tradition. 

In October 2018, the Armed Forces of the Philippines alleged that at least 18 universities, including UP, were being used as recruitment areas for the supposed Red October plot. They cited as proof of such recruitment screenings of films tackling Martial Law under the Marcos regime.

“If being an activist is siding with the oppressed, then I am an activist. If being an activist is working for change, then I am an activist. Red-tagging has no place in this university,” Nemenzo said. 

'Pro-people chancellor'

Nemenzo, a mathematics professor, holds doctor of science and master’s degrees from Tokyo’s Sophia University. He obtained his undergraduate degree in mathematics from UP Diliman in 1985. (READ: Pro-people, pro-marginalized: Who should next UP Diliman chancellor be?)

“We shall build on the gains of previous administrations, learning from the successes and shortcomings of the past, to provide the resources, policy support, and environment to enable the university to attain academic excellence in teaching, research, and public service,” said Nemenzo.

During the Thursday forum, Nemenzo stressed the importance of academic freedom in the university. “While we take pride in the inclusion of UP in world rankings, I am aware that this does not fully capture the whole picture, especially in public service,” he said.

If appointed as chancellor, Nemenzo would push for the institutionalization of the university’s psychosocial services program, such as strengthening programs on mental health and gender issues. 

“We need to mainstream gender into our programs, course offerings, procedures, and policies. Gender cuts across all disciplines and programs, Nemenzo said.

Nemenzo added, “There remains an urgent need to strengthen existing programs and support for forefront offices such as the Diliman Gender Office, the Office of Sexual Harassment, and Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, including mechanisms at the college and unit levels.”

Nemenzo also reiterated commitment to disallow the incursion of state forces in the university.  

Mahal ko ang UP (I love UP). I have devoted my entire life to this university,” Nemenzo said.

In 2019, Senator Ronald dela Rosa wanted to increase police patrols in state universities in the country such as Polytechnic University of the Philippines to deter communist recruitment.

Nemenzo is currently the university’s vice chancellor for research and development. The other nominee for UP Diliman chancellor is UP College of Engineering Dean Ferdinand Manegdeg. – with reports from Nicolas Czar Antonio/Rappler.com