Two months after the College of Business Administration (CBA) of the University of the Philippines, regarded as the birthplace of the movement against the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, was renamed the Cesar EA Virata School of Business, questions are being raised about its morality and legality.
But UP vice president for public affairs Prospero de Vera clarified that the student body unanimously endorsed the renaming of the CBA after the former prime minister and finance minister in the Marcos martial law regime. This was later affirmed by the university’s Board of Regents, he said.
“The college unanimously endorsed it. There was no opposition. How can anyone criticize their academic program? It is their college,” De Vera said.
Former Sen. Rene Saguisag, in a statement, questioned the renaming on ethical and legal grounds, citing Republic Act No. 1059 prohibiting the naming of public places, crafts, vessels and institutions after persons still alive.
“UP should not be above or below the law. If I understand the factual situation correctly, UP is committing an illegal act in renaming any of its colleges after a LIVING (sic) person. As far as I know Cesar Emilio Aguinaldo Virata is still with us in this vale of tears, a scofflaw nation, and despite P-Noy’s herculean efforts, by and large, remains the home of the bribe and the land of the fee,” Saguisag said.
He suggested that UP either abide by the law or Virata turn down the honor. “Becoming a stiff first before getting honored is rather stiff but only proper. Delicadeza aside from intellectual honesty,” he said.
In response, De Vera said he did not think that two elements of the issue—the alleged violation of law and whether it is moral or ethical to name the school after Virata—should be put together.
“My take on this is no law was violated. It is not a building or a facility, it was the educational component that was named after Virata,” he said, adding that the members of the board were well aware of RA 1059.
De Vera told the Inquirer that the Board of Regents approved the renaming of the CBA on April 12 based on the March 15 recommendation of dean Ben Paul Gutierrez, who cited Virata’s contributions to the university and the country. He likewise mentioned the practice of American universities of naming a business school after a distinguished person.
An announcement of the renaming in the UP-CBA Alumni online news quoted an excerpt of the Board of Regents’ minutes of the meeting, saying “Virata has served UP, the Philippine government and the country for many years and with clear distinction.”
According to the UP-CBA website history page, Virata served as dean of the CBA from 1960 to 1967.
“During his term, the Master of Business Administration was instituted, and the MBA (part-time program) was first offered in UP Diliman. During the term of Dean Virata, the first group of faculty was sent to the US for further studies. These included Manuel S. Alba, Magdaleno B. Albarracin, Jaime C. Laya Jr., Rafael A. Rodriguez, Emanuel V. Soriano (who became UP president in 1979), and Emmanuel T. Velasco for advanced studies.”
Virata is also the country’s only prime minister, serving from 1981 to 1986, when the dictator was ousted in the Edsa People Power Revolution. Virata was appointed finance secretary in 1970 and held the post until 1986.
Virata earned two bachelor’s degrees in engineering and business administration from UP in 1952, completed his master of business administration major in industrial management from the Wharton Graduate School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1953, and was conferred by UP an honorary degree of doctor of laws in 1976.
An issue of Guilder Institute, the official student publication of the UP-CBA, carried the “rebranding” as its banner story.
The article written by Diana Marie Peralta stated that Gutierrez announced the proposal to rename the college in an assembly held on Aug. 30 last year.
Peralta wrote that the announcement “caught everyone by surprise.” She said that the dean had explained it was based on the trend of universities “naming their schools of specialization after famous personalities” and that compared to a multidisciplinary college, it was more appropriate to call the CBA a school based on its focus on business.
“Mixed reactions resonated from the CBAers. However, the No. 1 question that surfaced was ‘Who is Cesar Virata?’ To this the dean gave a lengthy speech to support the suggestion,” Peralta said.
Included in the dean’s explanation, she reported, was a mention that Virata is a grand nephew of President Emilio Aguinaldo and his citation by Wharton as among 125 influential people as well as his introduction of reforms in the country’s taxation and revenue systems.
Peralta said that the CBA launched a signature campaign and distributed sign-up sheets to support the proposal.