By Francis Allan L. Angelo
UP Diliman Chancellor Dr. Fidel Nemenzo has garnered the support of the broader constituency of the premiere state university in his quest for its presidency.
Early this week, three National Artists, three National Scientists, a former UP President, two former chancellors of UP Baguio and UP Visayas, and over 40 UP Professors Emeriti issued a collective statement supporting the candidacy of Dr. Nemenzo for the UP presidency.
The group said that “only UP Diliman Chancellor FIDEL R. NEMENZO fulfills all of our criteria for an ideal and exemplary academic leader.”
“We are certain that, as UP President, Chancellor Nemenzo will lead the UP community into pathbreaking horizons to enhance and solidify UP’s status as the country’s premier institution of higher learning in the service of the nation and beyond.”
The signatories are well-respected, highly accomplished members of the Philippines’ academic, artistic, and scientific communities from a diverse range of disciplines and UP campuses such as Baguio, Cebu, Diliman, Los Baños, Manila, and Visayas.
The statement was first posted on the Facebook page, “Fidel Nemenzo is our UP President,” which is maintained by Nemenzo’s UP-affiliated supporters.
The UP Board of Regents, the university’s highest policy-making body, will vote on the next UP president on Dec 9, 2022.
Meanwhile, the UP Philippine Collegian also endorsed Nemenzo for UP presidency in a statement published on Dec 1.
The statement said that “As the UP Diliman (UPD) chancellor, Fidel Nemenzo faced those incursions on our rights head-on.”
“Under his term, we have seen an imperfect yet steady and cautious return to in-person classes. Under his term, we have seen the campus continue to be a hallowed ground for our most cherished rights and freedoms. On these grounds, Nemenzo has cleared the bar for what the Collegian regards as crucial considerations for the next UP president: a civic-minded leader who hopes not so much to reinvent the wheel as to nurture and protect all that the university already holds dear—the students, our freedoms, our democratic values—at this troubled historical juncture.”
The publication added that “a Nemenzo presidency promises to assert, above all, the primacy of in-person learning beyond the classroom.”
“His clear-eyed resolve to reopen our campuses outweighs the other nominees’ promises of normalizing remote learning as a viable option for a UP education,” it added.
The Collegian also noted that “Nemenzo sets himself apart in his emphatic vindication of academic freedom—the keystone of scholarship, activism, and everything else in between in UP.”
“At a time when attacks on UP’s autonomy are on full throttle—the looming budget cut, the planned reimposition of mandatory military training, and various rights violations—Nemenzo has proven himself to be a staunch defender of not just academia, but also the broader sectors outside the university. With Nemenzo at the helm, UPD remained a safe haven for activists and marginalized groups, such as the displaced Lumad youth whom his administration welcomed and built a school for in the College of Fine Arts.”
Read the full statements of the UP Professors Emeriti and the complete list of signatories below and that of the UP Philippine Collegian.
On the UP Presidency:
Statement of National Artists, National Scientists
and Emeritus Professors of the University of the Philippines
30 November 2022
The University of the Philippines is undergoing a search for a new President who will take office at a crucial time in the university’s history. The three-year Covid-19 pandemic has severely tested the abilities of university leaders and constituents to cope with the demands of a new and difficult mode of instruction. As we transition to normality we must be cognizant of the lessons from the pandemic experience and strive to move forward in the pursuit of knowledge in the service of the public good.
The university needs a leader with a vision that will uphold UP’s strong commitment to knowledge generation and public service. UP’s President must be an exemplary scholar with a lengthy teaching experience, a deep-thinking intellectual, a competent administrator and committed public servant. UP’s leader must also possess a broad and multidisciplinary approach to higher education, research, and public management.
The UP President must have an unblemished track record and proven experience in running a university and a full understanding of the needs of the UP community. This includes overcoming unthinkable challenges such as a mammoth health crisis. It is decisive, therefore, that UP’s paramount leader enjoys high credibility with the university’s constituents – faculty, students, research staff, administrative personnel, and residents. These are essential leadership traits to motivate UP’s diverse community in fulfilling the mandate of educating the Filipino youth in the service of the Filipino people.
Moreover, the UP President must appreciate and treasure the intellectual and socio-political responsibilities of defending UP’s singular status as a safe haven and secure refuge for the pursuit of an empowering truth and the nurturing of critical thinking.
The UP President must have access to an extensive regional and global network as a means for the university to collaborate with its counterparts in Asia and the world. Crucial qualities are the discernment and skills to engage and work with those outside the academe in the realms of government, politics, business, and civil society.
In this data driven world, an academic leader should have an intricate grasp of data and analytics overlayed with the ability to link and apply these to the hard sciences, the social sciences, humanities, gender, philosophy, ecology, and the arts.
It is our most informed and judicious view that, among the current aspirants for UP President, only UP Diliman Chancellor FIDEL R. NEMENZO fulfills all of our criteria for an ideal and exemplary academic leader. We are certain that, as UP President, Chancellor Nemenzo will lead the UP community into pathbreaking horizons to enhance and solidify UP’s status as the country’s premier institution of higher learning in the service of the nation and beyond.
Signed by UP Emeritus Professors
1 National Artist Gémino H. Abad, UP Diliman (Literature and Creative Writing)
2 National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, UP Diliman (Filipino and Philippine Literature)
3 National Scientist Lourdes J. Cruz, UP Diliman (Marine Science)
4 National Scientist Raul V. Fabella, UP Diliman (Economics)
5 National Artist Ramón P. Santos, UP Diliman (Composition and Theory)
6 National Scientist Gavino Trono Jr., UP Diliman (Marine Science)
7 Former UP President Emerlinda R. Roman, UP Diliman (Business Administration)
8 Former UPB Chancellor Priscilla S. Macansantos, UP Baguio (Mathematics)
9 Former UPOU Chancellor Ma. Cristina D. Padolina, UP Los Baños (Chemistry)
10 Former UPV Chancellor Ida M. Siason, UP Visayas (Psychology)
11 Generoso T. Abes, UP Manila (Otorhinolaryngology)
12 Jasmin E. Acuña, UP Diliman (Psychology and Management)
13 Florian A. Alburo, UP Diliman (Economics)
14 Violeta Bautista, UP Diliman (Psychology)
15 Alex B. Brillantes Jr., UP Diliman (Public Administration)
16 Leonor M. Briones, UP Diliman (Public Administration)
17 Benjamin Isla Cabangis, UP Diliman (Fine Arts)
18 Maria Luisa T. Camagay, UP Diliman (History)
19 Dante B. Canlas, UP Diliman (Economics)
20 Apolonio B. Chua, UP Diliman (Filipino and Philippine Literature)
21 Jose Dalisay, UP Diliman (English and Comparative Literature)
22 Ida F. Dalmacio, UP Los Baños (Food Microbiology)
23 Rolando A. Danao, UP Diliman (Economics)
24 Randolf S. David, UP Diliman (Sociology)
25 Ma. Serena I. Diokno, UP Diliman (History)
26 Erlinda S. Echanis, UP Diliman (Business Administration)
27 Elizabeth L. Enriquez, UP Diliman (Broadcast Communication)
28 Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, UP Diliman (Social Work and Community Development)
29 Felisa U. Etemadi, UP Cebu (Political Science)
30 Cecilia A. Florencio, UP Diliman (Nutrition)
31 Maria Cecilia Gastardo-Conaco, UP Diliman (Psychology)
32 Cristina P. Hidalgo, UP Diliman (English and Comparative Literature)
33 Elsie C. Jimenez, UP Baguio (Chemistry)
34 Ricardo Trota Jose, UP Diliman (History)
35 Angelito G. Manalili, UP Diliman (Community Development)
36 Agnes D. Mejia, UP Manila (Medicine)
37 Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo, UP Diliman (Women and Development Studies)
38 Epictetus E. Patalinghug, UP Diliman (Economics and Finance)
39 Ernesto M. Pernia, UP Diliman (Economics)
40 June C. Prill-Brett, UP Baguio (Anthropology)
41 Evangel P. Quiwa, UP Diliman (Computer Science)
42 Rafael Rodriguez, UP Diliman (Business Administration)
43 Rosario del Rosario, UP Diliman (Community Development)
44 Academician Maria Lourdes San Diego-McGlone, UP Diliman (Marine Science)
45 Polly W. Sy, UP Diliman (Mathematics)
46 Academician Guillermo Q. Tabios III, UP Diliman (Civil Engineering)
47 Eduardo C. Tadem, UP Diliman (Asian Studies)
48 Edita A. Tan, UP Diliman (Economics)
49 Nicanor G. Tiongson, UP Diliman (Mass Communication)
50 Delfin Tolentino, Jr., UP Baguio (Literature)
51 Amaryllis T. Torres, UP Diliman (Community Development)
52 Rosario L. Torres-Yu, UP Diliman (Filipino and Philippine Literature)
53 Elizabeth R. Ventura, UP Diliman (Psychology)
54 Corazon Villareal, UP Diliman (English and Comparative Literature)
55 Basilio Esteban Villaruz, UP Diliman (Dance)
56 Nestor Olarte Vinluan, UP Diliman (Fine Arts)
57 Roy C. Ybañez, UP Diliman (Business Administration)
In Defense of Academic Freedom and Students’ Democratic Rights
The Philippine Collegian Endorses Fidel Nemenzo for UP President
We find ourselves in unusual and precarious circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has distanced us from one another. At the same time, the government has capitalized on this crisis to erode our fundamental rights and constrict our democratic spaces even further.
As the UP Diliman (UPD) chancellor, Fidel Nemenzo faced those incursions on our rights head-on. Under his term, we have seen an imperfect yet steady and cautious return to in-person classes. Under his term, we have seen the campus continue to be a hallowed ground for our most cherished rights and freedoms. On these grounds, Nemenzo has cleared the bar for what the Collegian regards as crucial considerations for the next UP president: a civic-minded leader who hopes not so much to reinvent the wheel as to nurture and protect all that the university already holds dear—the students, our freedoms, our democratic values—at this troubled historical juncture.
A Nemenzo presidency promises to assert, above all, the primacy of in-person learning beyond the classroom. His clear-eyed resolve to reopen our campuses outweighs the other nominees’ promises of normalizing remote learning as a viable option for a UP education.
We need not look any further. In September, following a similar directive from President Danilo Concepcion, Nemenzo released a marching order to implement the full reopening of the Diliman campus by the second semester. Meanwhile, other nominees who bandy about such buzzwords as “cyber-university,” “modernization,” and “digital transformation” seem to lamentably miss how onsite learning remains the lifeblood of the UP community and UP education itself. There is much to be learned and appreciated from immersing oneself with the individuals on- and off-campus—faculty, staff, urban poor communities, farmers, workers, indigenous peoples—the sectors UP students pledge to serve.
Nemenzo’s insistence on a return-to-campus policy calls for more than just warm bodies on the ground. Under a Nemenzo administration, we can expect a recalibration of UP education following a planned review of the general education (GE) program, which the other nominees have failed to even touch on. Instead, most of them favor doubling down on specialization tracks, even floating ideas like double degrees, minor-major programs, and research for industries’ sake.
By contrast, a vigorous GE program aspires to produce well-rounded professionals who, as many public health experts, for example, demonstrated during the pandemic, grasp the complexities of humanity and treat people with dignity.
After all, quality, relevant, and holistic UP education is the groundwork for the university’s commitment to public service. Nemenzo told the Collegian Editorial Board that “we need people who are well-versed in their disciplines, who know how their actions impact society.” Fundamental to his vision for a post-pandemic higher education—a reinvigorated “tatak UP” education—is an enabling environment, where a free flow and exchange of ideas is welcomed, not vilified. He vows to guard the life of the mind. In a crowded field of presidential nominees, Nemenzo sets himself apart in his emphatic vindication of academic freedom—the keystone of scholarship, activism, and everything else in between in UP.
His track record speaks for itself. In September 2020, after Chairperson Prospero De Vera admonished him for allowing rallies in UPD at the height of the pandemic, Nemenzo asserted before the UP Board of Regents the people’s right to freedom of expression, saying he “had to perform a balancing act between strictly enforcing the [health] restrictions … and allowing the exercise of constitutional rights of the people.”
At a time when attacks on UP’s autonomy are on full throttle—the looming budget cut, the planned reimposition of mandatory military training, and various rights violations—Nemenzo has proven himself to be a staunch defender of not just academia, but also the broader sectors outside the university.
With Nemenzo at the helm, UPD remained a safe haven for activists and marginalized groups, such as the displaced Lumad youth whom his administration welcomed and built a school for in the College of Fine Arts.
That said, Nemenzo is far from perfect. Should he become our UP president, he will have to reckon with some of the issues that beset his term as chancellor, such as his perceived indifference to students’ conditions, especially regarding his questionable policies on class suspension. But these days do not call for an immaculate UP president. Our unusual and precarious times call for a steadfast leader with a relevant and feasible mission for the university.
The last time the Collegian endorsed a UP president nominee was in 1993, in support of Francisco Nemenzo Jr. In our editorial, we wrote that the “determination of the next UP president is necessarily a determination in vision.” For the members of the UP Board of Regents, their vote on December 9 will be a choice between further encroachment on or protection of our democratic spaces and rights.
In his message to the UP community shortly after being selected as the 10th Diliman chancellor, Nemenzo committed to preserving and defending academic freedom and democratic governance. Nearly three years on, amid the Marcos presidency and a pandemic in its dawn, Nemenzo offers himself anew, still with those unflinching stances and audacious hopes for a future UP deserves. He has our endorsement.