‘Respect’ removal of ‘subversive’ materials – CHEd to higher education institutions
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) urged on Tuesday higher education institutions (HEIs) nationwide to respect the decision of some universities and colleges to purge their libraries of materials deemed “subversive” by the government as the move was also an “exercise of academic freedom.”
CHEd chairman Prospero de Vera III said this after the officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman issued a statement saying that the removal of the said materials went “against the mission of universities to teach independently and to promote academic freedom.”
Three state universities had taken out allegedly subversive literature from their libraries. These are Kalinga State University, Isabela State University, and Aklan State University.
They turned the materials to the regional offices of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
According to De Vera, the decision to remove the “subversive” materials from libraries was “an exercise of academic freedom.”
“There are reasons why some HEIs have decided to remove materials donated by government-declared Communist-Terrorist Groups (CTGs) in their libraries,” De Vera said.
“School authorities in these HEIs are in the best position to explain why. They are given sufficient administrative discretions under existing laws,” he added.
Merriam-Webster defines academic freedom as the freedom to teach or to learn without interference (as by government officials).
Britannica, meanwhile, defines it as the freedom of teachers and students to teach, study, and pursue knowledge and research without unreasonable interference or restriction from the law, institutional regulations, or public pressure.
On Oct. 21, the regional office of CHEd in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CHED-CAR) joined the campaign to purge universities and colleges in the region of what they considered “subversive” materials.
Its own director, Demetrio Anduyan Jr., urged public and private HEIs in the region, through a memorandum, to remove “subversive” materials from their libraries and online information services.
According to Anduyan, CHEd supports the “whole-of-nation” approach of the Duterte administration that created the NTF-Elcac.
Rights groups likened this memorandum to a “Nazi-like attempt to strip off … academic freedom.”
De Vera then went on to say that HEIs should respect each other’s decisions “in the spirit of mutual respect and proper governance of their institutions.”
He also pointed out that a lot of other institutions were critical of the policies adopted by UP Diliman officials, including the way they run their campus. But he sai these institutions were not issuing statements against UP Diliman “out of mutual respect for the governance of individual public universities.”
“I urge UP Diliman officials to do the same,” De Vera said.
“It would be best for the Chancellor of UP Diliman and their officials to be more prudent, circumspect, respectful and discerning in issuing statements especially involving the exercise of academic freedom of other higher education institutions,” he added.
On Saturday, UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo vowed to protect the university’s collection and defend the campus as a sanctuary of free ideas and activism.
UP Visayas Chancellor Clement Camposano also promised that the campus would not remove from its libraries the threatened reading materials and books.
With the efforts to purge the said “subversive” books, an alliance of teachers, researchers, and other professionals consequently opened a collection of the same books online which will serve as a “free and easily accessible resource of endangered books and materials.”
The full online library can be viewed here: Aswang sa Aklatan.
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