UP prof says CHED’s proposal to define academic freedom ‘laughable’

A professor from the University of the Philippines said the proposal of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) to define is “laughable.”

CHED commissioner earlier said he would form a panel of education experts that would define academic freedom and the role of security forces in it.

“The chair’s proposal is laughable: to tap specialists and look up ‘academic freedom’ in the dictionary [when] the principle itself is already enshrined in the Constitution,” said professor and art historian Ramon Guillermo.

“So many have been harassed and Red-tagged over the past years but this is only the first time we’ve heard from him,” echoed Dr. Melinda Flores, president of the UP Workers’ Alliance. “In a time of harassment and extrajudicial killings, why would [you] remove an accord that has protected [UP]?”

Since the UP-DND accord that restricted military presence on the UP campus was terminated on January 15, UP has seen the Red-tagging of its students, alumni, and faculty intensify.

“There is a clear connection between the abrogation of the accord and the Red-tagging spree against UP and other universities and colleges,” Flores said.

Also read: History of the 1989 UP-DND accord

UP prof says CHED’s proposal to define academic freedom ‘laughable’

On Tuesday, the UP Diliman executive committee said academic freedom “allows the faculty, students, and staff to engage in intellectual debate, challenge ideas, and express one’s self without fear of being silenced.”

Sen. Francis Pangilinan earlier filed the proposed Academic Freedom Act of 2021 which seeks to institutionalize SUCs as venues of free speech and peaceful assembly by turning them into “freedom parks.”

“No permit, written or otherwise, shall be required by the national or local government for any person or persons to organize and hold a public assembly in SUCs. Uniformed personnel shall not interfere with peaceful protest action by SUC constituents within SUC premises,” the bill states.

Under the UP-DND agreement, authorities must notify UP leaders before they arrest, conduct a raid, or even enter the campus, except in certain situations such as the pursuit of a fleeing suspect.

Authorities should also not interfere with protest actions within UP.