Memo ti CHED iti pannakaikkat dagiti “subersibo” a sinurat kadagiti unibersidad iti CAR, kinondenar ti 35 a Professors Emeriti ti UP
Kinondenar ti 35 a Professors Emeriti ti University of the Philippines ti memorandum nga impaulog ti Commission on High Education a manggutgutigot kadagiti unibersidad iti Cordillera Administrative Region a mangikkat kadagiti “subversive” a libro dagitoy manipud kadagiti bibliotekada a kas mayayon iti counter-insurgency program ti NTF-ELCAC.
Iti deklarasion nga impaulog itay nabiit dagiti 35 a retirado a propesor ti UP, kinunada a daytoy nga addang ti CHED, “maysa a napeggad unay a panangbiang iti wayawaya akademiko, a ti Estado ket isun ti mangikeddeng no ania dagiti rumbeng a basaen ken saantayo a basaen.”
Adtoy ti sibubukel a linaon ti deklarasion, ti sungbat ti Chairman ti CHED, ken ti Memo ti CHED Cordillera Administrative Region:
THE REAL SUBVERSION
A Statement by UP Professors Emeriti
on the Banning of “Subversive” Books
We, Professors Emeriti at the University of the Philippines, express our strongest support for the University Council of UP Diliman in its protest against the recent memorandum issued by the Commission on Higher Education in the Cordillera Administrative Region urging libraries in that region to remove “subversive” books and materials from their collections.
Far from being of tangential concern to us in UP, this memorandum is an assault on academic freedom in all Philippine universities, as it sets the stage for further and possibly even more repressive measures in schools across the country. Any threat to academic freedom in any Philippine school or university is a threat to the whole system and has to be confronted instantly and squarely, regardless of whether individual institutions choose to deny the threat or to acquiesce to it. While the memorandum seems to present the removal of “subversive” books as non-compulsory, we all know how such directives, in the culture of our bureaucracy, can have coercive and chilling effects.
We are appalled by the CHED Chairman’s subsequent statement describing the compliance of some state universities with the CHED memorandum as an “exercise of their academic freedom.” This is disingenuous if not perverse. Academic freedom is neither exercised nor asserted by submitting to its suppression. It is not the bureaucratic freedom of corporate bodies to do as they wish. It does not mean that academic leaders can invoke the principle as a personal right of administrators to define and delimit the intellectual endeavors of their entire constituencies. It is a transcendent principle that implies preserving sources of history and ideas for present and future scholars, even if these are currently unfashionable or politically incorrect. Its enshrinement in our Constitution prevents the State or other institutional bodies from restricting the rights of academics and limiting them in their intellectual pursuits.
The CHED Chairman also decries UP Diliman’s response to the CHED memorandum as a form of “disrespect” toward other institutions. But indeed the greater disrespect manifest here is that of the fundamental and constitutionally protected right of all Philippine institutions of higher learning to academic freedom. This is the real subversion taking place—the takeover of academic administrations and governance by political appointees more intent on executing some external agenda than performing their duty to defend academic freedom and excellence against all incursions.
Many of us still recall the darkest days of martial law, when our campuses and offices were raided by soldiers in search of “subversive” books. Professors and students were imprisoned for their beliefs, and books were burned for their content. Never again should the military or the government itself determine which books we can read and teach. Never should academic freedom be compromised in the name of national security.
Again we must emphasize that academic freedom is prerequisite to academic excellence, which cannot prosper under conditions of political repression or oversight. As repositories of knowledge, university libraries must remain open to all books, so their ideas can be critiqued and contested in the classroom and laboratory, in the crucible of truth and reason. To ban books is to promote ignorance and intellectual servility, and to condone its practice is to betray one’s sacred calling as a producer and propagator of knowledge.
We call on the CHED to revoke this ill-conceived memorandum and on our Board of Regents and university administrators to resist any efforts from within and outside UP to curtail academic freedom. We reaffirm the primacy of the faculty in all matters of academic policy and practice, of which our libraries are an integral part. To defend books and libraries is to defend democracy itself, whose strength derives from a diversity of ideas and beliefs. To that end, we recommit ourselves, and urge our colleagues in active service to do as well.