The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was urged by the faculty of the University of the Philippines (UP) to stop “misrepresentation of academic freedom.”
The Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) on Wednesday, Nov. 3, denounced CHED for defending the removal of so-called “subversive” reading materials from the libraries of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).
The group of progressive faculty at the UP also slammed CHED, particularly its Chairman Popoy De Vera, for “criticizing those who stand against book censorship.”
On Nov. 3, De Vera issued a statement on State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) who took out alleged Communist-Terrorist Groups (CTGs) materials from their libraries.
“The decision to remove books and other reading materials in a university library is done by individual higher education institutions (HEIs) in the exercise of academic freedom,” De Vera said.
However, the UP faculty slammed De Vera’s misrepresentation of academic freedom to include acts of book censorship.
Borrowing words from National Artist Jose Garcia Villa, CONTEND-UP described De Vera’s statement as “so much emptiness in so much verbiage from so much pretension.”
“De Vera is twisting the meaning and misrepresenting academic freedom, diverting the issue away from repressive acts of book censorship into a mere administrative matter of feigning mutual respect for the governance prerogatives of individual public universities,” said CONTEND’s Lakan Umali.
“We say no, book purging cannot be an exercise of academic freedom, which is based on the free and fair exchange of ideas, and not on their censorship,” Umali said.
“The purging of books from public libraries is one of the severest forms of censorship, and De Vera’s statement effectively sanctions it,” he added.
In a forum organized by CONTEND on Oct. 29, UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo, UP Head Librarian Elvira Lapuz, and about 200 other UP librarians and faculty members expressed their opposition to book censorship and other attacks on academic freedom.
Likewise, CONTEND’s Francisco Jayme Paolo Guiang also called on all students, educators, and members of the educational sector to “hold CHED and other educational institutions accountable when they enable censorship and academic repression.”
“Our schools and libraries are sanctuaries for academic freedom, and we will defend them from any attacks!” Guiang said.