Candidate for UP president cries age discrimination
“IT’S AS IF they’re saying that when you reach this age, you are worthless.”
This was how Chancellor Michael Tan of the University of the Philippines Diliman described his situation, as he and three other nominees were disqualified from the search for the next president of UP because of their age.
A requirement imposed by the Board of Regents, the university’s highest decision-making body, said the next UP president must complete the full term of six years before he or she turns 70 years old.
The next UP president’s term will end on February 2023. Tan will turn 70 in 2022.
He said being denied a chance to head the state university was a form of age discrimination.
“Age should not be a criterion for the ability to serve,” he told the
Inquirer. “It’s very discouraging, especially because in an academic environment, age is a premium.”
The age requirement was imposed only during this selection, and was not a criterion during the past presidential searches.
“In effect, it sets 64 years old as the age requirement,” he said. “I am a medical anthropologist and I can say that the 60s is the new young.”
He noted that current university president, Alfredo Pascual, was elected at 62.
In his official statement released on the UP Diliman website, Tan said he intentionally filed his candidacy to challenge the age requirement, which he said was a violation of the recently passed Anti-Age Discrimination Law.
“As I informed the Board of Regents in the letter that accompanied my candidacy papers, it is wrong to discriminate against senior citizens, who have much to contribute,” he wrote.
He added, “I told them I do not have claims of greater wisdom, only of great sensibility, and a love of people and of education.”
Tan said he had yet to receive the official statement from the board informing him of his disqualification. He was informed earlier by concerned regents about the special meeting that handed down the decision on Oct. 1.
Student Regent Raoul Manuel said the deliberation by the board was based on an interpretation of the UP Charter, which states the mandatory retirement age for UP employees is 70.
“So the board decided to eliminate the nominees that will be beyond 70 years old,” Manuel said, namely, former UPD Chancellor Roger Posadas, retired College of Arts and Letters professor Consolacion Alaras and former broadcaster and senator Orlando Mercado.
When asked if the board might repeal the requirement, Manuel said the chances were slim.
“Unless higher agencies or legal bodies will intervene, I don’t think it will change,” he said.
Tan said that whether he was disqualified not merely for his age but also for his opposing stand on university issues with the current administration, he will not seek further action.
“As an old cow, I choose my battles,” he said, adding that he will seek the chancellor post again when his term ends in February.
“Unless they add another age requirement,” he said.
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