Asserting Democratic Governance in UP:

 

■   The Saga of the PGH Directorship

 

■    The "Strange"  Case of Prof. Sarah Raymundo

 

 

January 7, 2010

 

 

 

On Dec. 18  the UP Board of Regents meeting elected  Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as the new Director of the Philippine General Hospital. But on Jan, 5, 2010 UP President Emerlinda Roman issued a memorandum appointing Chancellor Ramon  Arcadio as Officer-in-Charge of PGH in direct defiance of the board's decision.

 

On January 7, 2010, a protest rally was held at UP PGH. Before the end of the protest action the protesters received a copy of the "notification of approval of temporary appointment" of Dr. Gonzales as PGH Director signed by the Secretary of the University Dr. Lourdes Abadingo.. That same afternoon, Dr. Gonzales took his oath of office in front of Chancellor Arcadio. But the saga of the UP PGH directorship does not end there because the appointment of the new director will be discussed in the Jan. 29 BOR meeting because of a letter of a regent protesting his appointment.

 

The tenure case of Prof. Sarah Raymundo is an even "stranger" case. She has fulfilled all the academic requirements for tenure but she was not given the tenure she deserves.
 

   
   
/p

/p
Photos courtesy of JMT and KM  /CONTEND-UP
     
     
The Saga of the UP PGH Directorship
     
     
           

 

The Saga of the UP PGH Directorship

 

In the December 18 BOR (Board of Regents) meeting, Dr. Jose C. Gonzales was elected the new Director of the Philippine General Hospital. He received 6 votes while outgoing PGH Director Dr. Carmelo Alfiler (who has already served two terms) received 5 votes.

On January 4, the University Secretary issued the announcement of new BOR appointments which included Dr. Gonzales' designation was issued. UP Manila Chancellor Ramon Arcadio then informed Dr. Gonzales and the appointed Dean of the College of Dentistry that they will be sworn into office on the afternoon of January 4.

Another text message from the Chancellor soon followed informing Dr. Gonzales that "President Roman is calling for an urgent meet tomorrow, Jan 4. Ur oath taking is postponed for Tue, Jan. 5 at 2 pm."

Around noontime on January 5, President Roman issued a memo, her first memo for 2010 with the subject "Appointment of Officer-in Charge of the Philippine General" supposedly on the basis of a letter of protest from Regent Sarmiento.

The UP Sectoral Regents, composed of the Faculty, Student and Staff Regent immediately issued the following statement

Protest Against Deliberate Refusal of President Emerlinda R. Roman to Install Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as the PGH Director, Duly Elected by the Board of Regents January 6, 2010
 

We, the Regents representing the faculty, staff and students of the University, call upon all concerned members of the University of the Philippines community, particularly those from the Philippine General Hospital, to express their united condemnation of President Emerlinda R. Roman’s illegal, undemocratic and unfair refusal to install Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as the PGH Director who was duly elected by the Board of Regents last December 18, 2009. We call upon everyone to protest this blatant violation of the University’s standards of good governance.
 

We wish to remind President Roman that the Board of Regents at its December 18, 2009 meeting duly elected Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as director of the Philippine General Hospital. The Office of the Secretary of the University in its January 4, 2010 notification of the decisions of the BOR on appointments of UP officials included the appointment of Dr. Gonzales as PGH director.
 

Despite these facts, President Emerlinda R. Roman issued Memorandum No. PERR-2010-001, dated January 5, 2010, appointing Chancellor Ramon L. Arcadio as Officer-in-Charge of PGH. This memorandum cannot supercede a BOR decision and is therefore in direct defiance of the BOR. President Roman cannot fill up a position that is not vacant. We shall be taking steps to hold President Roman legally liable for possible violation of the University Charter that she is obligated by her oath of office to uphold
 

We acknowledge that one Regent has expressed his intention to protest the election of Dr. Gonzales. The presence of such protest, however, cannot overturn the decision already made by the BOR. By refusing to implement a duly approved decision of the BOR, President Roman has prejudged by herself alone an issue that should also be decided by the BOR as a body at its regular meeting. She has no legal or practical justification to withhold implementation of a BOR decision as the term of the previous PGH Director has already expired
 

We regard President Roman’s January 5 memorandum refusing to implement a BOR decision to appoint Dr. Gonzales as PGH Director as a very dangerous precedent. Here is one individual member of the Board, by the mere issuance of a memorandum, exercising a power that effectively frustrates the implementation of a duly authorized decision by the BOR.
 

We should not allow such autocratic actions to be exercised without resistance. We call for the immediate withdrawal of said memorandum and for the recognition of Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as the duly elected PGH Director starting January 1, 2010.
 

Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo (SGD) Staff Regent Clodualdo “Buboy” Cabrera (SGD)
Student Regent Charisse Bernadine Bañez (SGD)

The All UP Workers Union, UP Manila-PGH chapter held a protest action in front of the PGH Main Entrance on January  7 during lunch break. The union called on the university officials to honor the Dec. 18 BOR decision appointing Dr. Gonzales and attacked the various steps taken to frustrate the implementation of the decision.

Before the end of the protest action the protesters received a copy of the "notification of approval of temporary appointment" of Dr. Gonzales as PGH Director signed by the Secretary of the University Dr. Lourdes Abadingo dated December 18 and received by the UP Manila Chancellor only on January 7. That same afternoon, Dr. Gonzales took his oath of office in front of Chancellor Arcadio.

All's well that ends well?


No, it hasn't as the University Secretary in a January 7 letter addressed to Dr. Gonzales informed him that Regent Sarmiento has submitted a December 23, 2009 letter of protest related to the PGH Director and that letter will be discussed in the January 29 BOR meeting.

The saga of the PGH Directorship continues.

 

     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS
2/F Napoleon Pornasdoro Bldg., Mines St. cor. Dipolog St. , Bgy. VASRA, Quezon City , Philippines
Telefax 453-9116 Mobile 0920-9220817 Email act_philippines@ yahoo.com Website www.actphils. com
Member, Education International

December 27, 2009
PRESS STATEMENT
Reference: Antonio L. Tinio (0920-9220817)
ACT National Chairperson

2009 Education Year-end Assessment

In the education sector, the year 2009 was marked by a growing number of school children dropping out of school, budget cuts, inadequate pay and pension fund woes for teachers, as well as violations of their basic rights.

The 1987 constitution mandated compulsory elementary education and free high school education, envisioning a society in which all Filipinos have attained at least a high school level of education. However, under Arroyo’s watch, children than ever before are out of school.

The Arroyo government’s failure to effectively address poverty has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the number of drop-outs and out-of-school children throughout the decade. In September, the Department of Education acknowledged that there are 5.6 million out of school children—some 2.2 million children between the ages of 6-12 and 3.4 million between the ages of 13-15. CNN Hero Efren Penaflorida’s “pushcart classrooms” highlighted government’s failure to provide formal education to a growing number of children. This is one of the most worrying legacies of the current administration.

This year, the Arroyo government imposed substantial budget cuts in education in response to the global economic crisis. The Deped’s budget for maintenance and operations was cut by 7% while the budget for capital outlay was cut by 15%. Meanwhile, further cuts have been imposed on next year’s budget as well.

Reduced spending on education has been characteristic of the Arroyo administration for most of the decade. As the Congressional Budget and Planning Office pointed out, “the average annual growth rate of the DepEd’s budget in real terms from 2001-2006 has been negative 3.5%.” Inadequate funding has resulted in the acute shortages of teachers, classrooms, and other resources that have plagued the public school system under Arroyo’s watch.

This year, the Arroyo government passed the so-called Salary Standardization Law 3, in response to a vigorous nationwide campaign by teachers and other government employees. The law provides for annual increases in public sector pay over the next four years. Lower and middle level government employees, including teachers, have criticized the law for providing insufficient salary hikes, particularly since the Arroyo administration imposed a freeze in public sector salaries from 2001 to 2006.

Teachers and other government employees were subjected to further woes by the Government Service Insurance System. In April, it announced that its newly-acquired computer system was incapable of handling the state pension fund’s daily operational requirements, depriving hundreds of thousands of members of reliable service. This blunder is only the latest in a series of fiascoes that have plagued GSIS members throughout the decade. The GSIS management led by Winston Garcia has failed to address the fund’s long-standing problems of shoddy records management and poor collection. As a result, teachers and other government employees have suffered from overdeductions and poor service for most of the decade, making GSIS the single most vilified government agency among the rank-and-file.

The Arroyo government’s track record of human rights violations has not spared the education sector. State forces have subjected teachers and teacher organizations to violence, harassment, and intimidation. In January, the young school teacher Rebelyn Pitao was murdered by military agents in Davao , bringing to 11 the number of teachers victimized by extrajudicial killings since 2001. This year more harassment of progressive teacher oganizations by the military, with the Philppine Army’s Civil-Military Operations units conducting vilification seminars in public schools and campuses against legitimate teacher organizations such as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers. In July-August, the Army occupied a privately-run school for lumads in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. In September, a botched surveillance operation conducted by the Philippine Marines against National Artist and teacher-activist Prof. Bienvenido Lumbera was exposed to the public.

The national government’s failure to secure conditions for peace and order in southern Mindanao together with the prevailing culture of impunity provide the context for the spate of kidnappings targeting teachers in 2009. One ended tragically with the brutal beheading of school principal Gabriel Canizares in November. Government must step up to ensure the safety and security of teachers, especially going into the May 2010 elections.

We challenge all candidates running for office in next year’s elections to immediately address these issues and bring about democratic and progressive reforms in education. #

     
     
     
           
           
     
     
 
=          
==          
The “Strange” Case of Professor Sarah Raymundo
           
     

 

     SARAH RAYMUNDO is Assistant Professor from UP Diliman's Department of Sociology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. She's been teaching in UP for almost ten years. She has met, and even exceeded, the minimum requirements for tenure. Why then, after almost a year since she applied for tenure, is Prof. Raymundo being denied of a permanent status in the university?

Sarah is the Secretary-General of the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND), Treasurer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) National Council, and an active member of the All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU).

 

■   The struggle for jjustice and tenure for UP Prof. Sarah Raymundo, Feb. 6, 2009

■   Who\'s Afraid of Sarah Raymundo?

■   All UP Academic Employees Union (AUPAEU) Diliman Chapter on the Non-granting of Tenure to Prof. Sarah Raymundo

 

 

Check this website for documents and latest updates:

Website - Tenure for Prof. Sarah Raymundo

 

           
           

 

"Injustice in UP-Diliman" by Elmer Ordonez

 

Originally published here: Injustice in UP-Diliman

 

Lately we are witness to truly benighted decisions made by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in rejecting the applications of Ang Ladlad and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers for party-list accreditation.


The other aberration is the decision of the University of the Philippines administration to deny tenure to a fully qualified assistant professor of sociology—amounting to what concerned faculty and students see as gross injustice.

The Comelec and the UP decisions are related as they manifest convergent ideological views, one straight from feudal times and the other from the Cold War. The denial of Comelec accreditation to Ang Ladlad, known for espousing the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders (LGBT), reveals homophobia and extreme prejudice on grounds of medieval morality and an obsolete penal code provision dating to colonial times. (This provision must have been the same one that ensnared young poet Jose Garcia Villa, author of a poem “Man-Songs,” deemed “obscene.” A similar provision on obscenity in the US also banned James Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness novel Ulysses in the late twenties. Times have changed, but the Comelec panels as well as the Revised Penal Code have not kept up.)

The rejection of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on grounds that it has no national presence is misplaced because it has chapters and affiliates all over the country. The more likely reason is that ACT is part of the progressive or Left bloc now represented in the House of Representatives by Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, and Kabataan members pursuing the principled politics of change as opposed to trapo politics.

Progressive party-list representation has faced an uphill battle because of efforts by the establishment to limit the number of representatives through biased interpretation of constitutional and enacting law. Furthermore, bogus groups (purporting to represent the dispossessed and the marginalized but are extensions of ruling blocs) are allowed by Comelec to come in as party-lists. Hence, the presence in Congress of a retired general accused of human rights violations by local and international agencies, and other fake champions of the disadvantaged.

The case of Sarah Jane Raymundo, assistant professor of sociology, MA, who has been teaching for nine years in UP- Diliman is a bizarre one. Raymundo’s tenure has been endorsed by majority of the permanent faculty in her department and the executive board of her college (social sciences and philosophy) but the case dragged on for some two years because of the opposition of a minority of three (including a former department chair) for other “academic” reasons. The latest is that the UP- Diliman chancellor used the minority report and the case of an associate professor in another college (science) as the basis for denying Raymundo’s tenure.

One who reads through the basic papers of the case can sense a strong Byzantine element in the latter part of the tenure proceeding involving the administration. Here it is apparent that the academe is not immune to pressure, convoluted reasoning, and arbitrariness.

While Raymundo’s peers acknowledge her “excellent quality of mind,” “expansive intellectual interest,” “competence in current and emerging academic discourses [as] reflected in her teaching” and “capability to engage in sustained scholarship,” Chancellor Sergio Cao, in denying tenure, overturned peer judgment and belittled the professor’s academic qualifications (e.g. publications in many journals, active participation in seminars, and community work) and cited other “academic” grounds obviously drawn from the minority report of peers who charged Raymundo of “breach of professional ethics” which have not been proven. This apparently stems from Prof. Raymundo’s having been thesis adviser of one of two UP coeds who were reported abducted two years ago by military agents, tortured and presumably “salvaged.”

Some of Raymundo’s colleagues believe that her membership in CONTEND (Congress of Teachers for Nationalism and Democracy) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers may have figured in the denial of her tenure. If this were true, then the professor is a victim of political persecution, ironically, in an institution that had long nurtured diverse political and ideological persuasions. Here a professed socialist, Dr. Francisco Nemenzo Jr., became UP president; professors and students who were detained during martial law were reinstated in the university upon their release. Dissenters/non-conformists found haven on campus.

There was division among constituents in celebrated cases like that of Rizal professorial chair holder Austin Craig (with poor interpersonal relations) who was about to be sacked for non-academic reasons but was supported by senior professors who believed in his scholarship. This occurred during the UP presidency of Guy Benton in the 20s.

The case of Sarah Jane Raymundo prompted Prof. Walden Bello to say: “The conflation of the tenure process with a disciplinary process—especially one that has not reached any conclusion on the guilt or innocence of the defendant—is wrong and constitutes a dangerous precedent that would destroy the academic objectivity that is central to the tenure process.”

As Prof. Ramon Guillermo noted, she “has never been given the opportunity to answer allegations against her.”

 

     
     
           
 

 

Check this website for documents and latest updates:

Website - Tenure for Prof. Sarah Raymundo

 

 
           

x

Read the letter in PDF: US-based Academic Scholars' Dec. 2 Letter to Pres. Roman

 

2 December 2009

 

Dr. Emerlinda R. Roman

President

University of the Philippines

Diliman, Quezon City

Philippines

 

Dear Dr. Roman:

 

As academic scholars in the U.S. with long-lasting commitments to the Philippines and important connections to the University of the Philippines in particular, we write to urge a redress and reversal of the denial of tenure to one of your most exemplary faculty members, Sarah Raymundo. We feel there has been an egregious breach in the integrity of the tenure process and in the principles of academic freedom that our international scholarly community upholds and vigorously defends. Moreover, as a result of this breach, we feel the University of the Philippines has done a grave injustice to an outstanding scholar, teacher and public intellectual, standing to lose one of its most valuable young faculty and setting an alarming precedent that is sure to erode the ideals, quality and principled practices of higher education.

 

Along with our colleagues in the Philippines, we were appalled and dismayed to hear of U.P. Diliman Chancellor Cao’s decision to overturn the original recommendations for Sarah Raymundo’s tenure made by, respectively, the Sociology Department, the College Executive Board and the Academic Personnel and Fellowship Committee.

 

We have reviewed the documents in Professor Raymundo’s case and find the irregularities in the tenure review process to be insupportable. It is clear from the paper trail that while Professor Raymundo’s excellent academic accomplishments have been recognized at all the above institutional levels as meritorious and deserving of tenure, she has been punitively judged, in the most unilateral and arbitrary fashion at the behest of a red-baiting minority bloc, for her radical political commitments and involvements. We find this egregious violation of the codes of academic integrity and freedom and dismissal of scholarly achievement in favor of political ideology to be a huge mar on the University of the Philippines’ well-known and longstanding record of commitment to the principles of intellectual freedom and justice.

 

Many of us are familiar with Professor Raymundo’s brilliant scholarly writings on Filipino popular culture in the context of the global economy, Philippine national politics and social movements. We have been impressed by and learned enormously from her astute and illuminating sociological analyses of the conditions of lived life in the Philippines, the insights of which have been honed precisely through her long-time activist involvement and experiences substantiated through more formal research and study. Indeed, in our estimation, Professor Raymundo’s activist work in the areas of human rights and global social struggles is undoubtedly both a key source and form of expression of her research and theoretical approach, and as such should also be understood as a significant intellectual and professional contribution in its own right.

 

Professor Raymundo’s combination of theoretical erudition (her fluency in sociological theory, critical social theory, as well as cultural studies) and empirical knowledge is an inspiring example to all of us, as it has been an invaluable instruction to the many students who have had the privilege of taking her classes. In addition to her achievements as a scholar and a teacher, Professor Raymundo has also been an exemplary colleague in the international academic community. She has not only been an active participant in international conferences but has also been central to the vital intellectual exchanges between students and scholars in the U.S. and in the Philippines, arranging talks and seminars at the University of the Philippines that have brought U.S. academics in important dialogue with our colleagues and with students at U.P. as well as at other universities in the Philippines. We cannot overemphasize the importance of Professor Raymundo in fostering these intellectual exchanges, in which many of us first came to know and appreciate her brilliance as a scholar of Philippine society and culture.

 

We can say with confidence that Professor Raymundo’s scholarly contributions to the interdisciplinary fields of Global Studies, Philippine studies, and Cultural Studies as well as Sociology, her strong teaching record, and her exceptional record of service to the intellectual community at large are well beyond the requirements for tenure. It is our hope that you will redress the grave injustice of the arbitrary denial of her tenure. Along with our colleagues in the Philippines and at the University of the Philippines, we understand the importance of her intellectual work to the critical work we undertake in multiple fields and urge you, as the President of this prestigious university, to recognize the broad respect she has gained as a scholar, teacher and public intellectual and to grant her the tenured position that she greatly deserves.

 

Sincerely Yours,

 

Delia D. Aguilar

Women's Studies Program

University of Connecticut

 

Christine Bacareza Balance

Assistant Professor, Asian American Studies

University of California, Irvine

 

Nerissa S. Balce

Assistant Professor of Asian American Literature

Department of Asian and Asian American Studies

State University of New York at Stony Brook

 

Joi Barrios-Leblanc
Visiting Lecturer
University of California Berkeley

 

Jonathan Beller
Professor
Humanities and Media Studies and Critical and Visual Studies
Pratt Institute

 

Rick Bonus

Associate Professor of American Ethnic Studies

University of Washington

 

Tracy Lachica Buenavista
Assistant Professor
Department of Asian American Studies
California State University, Northridge

 

Lucy Burns
Assistant professor
Asian American Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

 

Jeff Arellano Cabusao

Assistant Professor

Department of English and Cultural Studies

Bryant University

 

Peter Chua
Associate Professor of Sociology
San Jose State University

 

Valerie Francisco
Doctoral Candidate
City University of New York, The Graduate Center

 

Maria Hwang
Graduate Student
American Civilization
Brown University

 

David H. Kim, Chair

Philosophy Department

University of San Francisco,CA

 

Anne E. Lacsamana

Assistant Professor

Women's Studies Department

Hamilton College

 

Allan Lumba
Doctoral Student
Department of History
University of Washington, Seattle

 

Ruth Elynia S. Mabanglo

Professor and Coordinator

Filipino and Philippine Literature Program, IPLL,

University of Hawaii at Manoa

 

Martin F. Manalansan IV

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
 

Nerve Macaspac
MA in Asian Studies
University of California, Berkeley

 

Paul Nadal

Graduate Student, Rhetoric

University of California, Berkeley

 

Claire Oliveros
Coordinator, Multicultural Center
Portland Community College

 

Lorenzo Perillo
Doctoral Student
World Arts and Cultures
University of California Los Angeles

 

Roland Remenyi

Doctoral Candidate, Pharmacology
University of California, Los Angeles

 

E. San Juan
Fellow W.E.B. Du Bois Institute
Harvard University

 

Suzanne Schmidt
Doctoral Student
Department of English
University of Washington

 

Sarita Echavez See

Associate Professor

Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies

Program in American Culture & Department of English
 

Pacharee Sudhinaraset
Doctoral Student
Department of English
University of Washington

 

Neferti Tadiar

Professor and Chair of Women’s Studies, Barnard College
Director, Center for Critical Analysis of Social Difference,
Columbia University

 

Thea Quiray Tagle
Doctoral Student
Dept of Ethnic Studies, University of California San Diego

 

Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Asian American Studies

San Francisco State University

 

Rowena M. Tomaneng

Interim Dean

Language Arts Division

De Anza College, CA
 

Michael Viola
Doctoral Student
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

 

Bryan Zadie
Doctoral Student
Comparative Literature
University of California, Riverside

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
           

 

POLITICAL PERSECUTION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES, QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES:
The “Strange” Case of Professor Sarah Raymundo
 

By E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
[first posted in POLITICAL AFFAIRS website:
<http://www.politicalaffairs.net/article/articleview/9209>]

Dr. E. SAN JUAN, Jr. emeritus professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Ethnic Studies, was a recent fellow of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University. He recently taught at Leuven University, Belgium, as a Fulbright lecturer in American Studies, and at the University of the Philippines as visiting professor of English and Comparative Literature. He received his A.B., magna cum laude, in English and Philosophy from the University of the Philippines in 1958; and his doctorate from Harvard University. He taught at UP from 1958-60, 66-67, 87-88, and 2008. His recent books are US Imperialism and Revolution in the Philippines (Palgrave), Critique and Social Transformation (The Edwin Mellen Press), and Toward Filipino Self-Determination (SUNY Press).


In the global North, the plight of academics being fired or denied tenure scarcely merits attention in the media. This is so starkly banal today when teachers’ salaries are either drastically frozen or cut back (as at Harvard University, University of California, etc.) while tuition fees are jacked up. Becoming redundant or retrenched has not spared professor-scholars in this unprecedented crisis of global capitalism. Economics has become politicized when Washington rescues failing banks with taxpayers’ money; politicians’ decisions can no longer be quarantined from the carnage in Wall Street.

During the decades of the Cold War, of course, it was routine for professors to be weeded out for being “commies,” Soviet spies, traitors, etc. When I was first hired in 1965 at the University of California, Davis, I had to sign an oath of loyalty to the U.S. government even though I was not a citizen. My former professor at Harvard, Howard Mumford Jones, was famous for refusing to sign that oath as a condition for being hired by the University of Texas then. During the sixties and seventies, radicals such as Bruce Franklin and Barbara Foley--to name only two of many--were purged for their activist stance in protesting the Vietnam War, torture and war crimes in Latin America perpetrated by the “shock doctrine” technocrats of disaster capitalism (to borrow Naomi Klein’s terms). Franklin and Foley are brilliant and prolific scholars, respected in their disciplines. But obviously it was not their intellectual worth but their anti-imperialist political commitment that brought down the wrath of the Establishment on their heads. Like all state apparatuses, the university is not a sacred “think-tank for alternative models,” but a cog in the machine for reinforcing the oppressive status quo and stifling dissent.

In the Philippines, as in embattled “third world” countries generally, it is difficult if not impossible to disentangle the academic realm from that of everyday political struggles. Everyday life is a mixed affair of politics, economics, and witchcraft. Traditional customs of peasant life based on kinship, religious beliefs, memory, habits, etc. disturb the presumably “neutral” market competition of equal citizens. Ethics is compromised in political skulduggery and business deals carried out by political dynasties, warlords, and corporate hustlers. The reification or commodification of life in industrialized bourgeois society has not materialized enough to fully compartmentalize the public sphere from the private. This is a product of uneven development and the unsynchronized process of imperial subjugation and exploitation.

In a peripheral dependent formation such as the Philippines, the sociohistorical field of power is constituted by the dynamic interplay of economics, politics and ideology. Class struggle, while anchored in production and property, proceeds on various interacting levels. If Filipinos suffer from a “damaged culture,” this can be viewed as a logical outcome of the legacy of over three hundred years of Spanish colonial domination and more than a century of being “tutored” by U.S. entrepreneurial democracy and market pluralism. Class and racial differences are supposed to wither away in the course of “free market” modernization. Except for the perennial “maoist” insurgents and recalcitrant Moros, Americanization succeeded in molding the thinking of the intelligentsia, especially the academic gatekeepers at the University of the Philippines, and the self-reproducing hierarchy of civil servants in the judiciary, military-police agencies, and so on.

Missionary Positions

After killing 1.4 million natives, the United States ruled the Philippines from 1898 to 1946 as a direct colony. The fruit of this “civilizing” experiment is nearly a century of severe underdevelopment of the economy and disintegration of the collective psyche whose symptoms are evident today. The colonial power preserved the feudal-oligarchic property system, overlayering it with the trappings of comprador electoral democracy. One result is the authoritarian Marcos regime (1972-1986) whose human-rights violations have now been surpassed by the corrupt Arroyo regime flourishing in the midst of extreme class inequality, nurturing barbaric warlords such as the Ampatuan dynasty responsible for the recent Maguindanao massacre of 57 unarmed civilians. Not that the U.S. ruling class is to blame for everything—indeed, the founding of the local educational system is supposed to be one of the durable contributions of U.S. colonialism to the heroic task of civilizing those “benighted” natives, Nonetheless, a large share of what Filipinos enjoy today can be ascribed to the “benevolent assimilation” policy of the wise suzerain William McKinley and his no doubt well-intentioned successors.

One of the institutions established by the U.S. colonizers is the University of the Philippines (UP). It was designed to produce functionaries to serve the ideological state apparatuses of the colonial state. The U.S. needed trained “little brown brothers” (William Howard Taft’s affectionate terms of endearment) to legitimize the particularist motive of capital as one identical with the general interest. Its prestige eventually rested on the nurturance of generations of scholars and a significant number of activist intellectuals since its founding in 1908. Despite what historian Renato Constantino called “the mis-education of Filipinos,” that is, the slavish worship of EuroAmerican values and its elite gurus such as Richard Rorty and Benedict Anderson, UP students led mass demonstrations against the Vietnam War in the sixties and ruthless US interventions in Latin America and the Middle East from the seventies up to the present.

Class struggles worldwide could not be kept away from the classroom. Not only has the UP served to train subalterns for the colonial bureaucracy; it has also exposed students (given the internal contradictions of capitalist rule in a semifeudal dependency) to counterhegemonic, revolutionary ideas. During my student days in UP in the fifties, the writings of Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre, and later on of George Jackson, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara, Mao, and other progressive activists were disseminated among student-faculty discussion circles. From this arose organizations that spearheaded the national-democratic movement which challenged U.S. imperial hegemony and its support for the bloody dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and his successors, up to Arroyo. To a limited extent, the UP still serves as an arena of ideological -theoretical debates reflecting the intense conflicts and antagonisms of a nation of over ninety million most of whom live on less than $2 a day, under a brutal regime praised by Barack Obama and credited with over a thousand victims of extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances, and torture.

Subalterns Speak

Now comes the news that within the hallowed halls of “academic freedom,” which the oligarchy takes pride in as “the marketplace of ideas,” the persecution of a prodigiously talented militant scholar, Sarah Raymundo, is going on without much fanfare. Except for the local demonstrations of sympathizers from student organizations in the campus and, incredibly, the massive support of academics, public intellectuals, and professionals from around the world, her case is scarcely noticed by Manila pundits and commercializing media celebrities. Globalization thus works in contradictory and paradoxical ways.

Raymundo’s case may be a minor affair compared to the issues of global warming publicized at Copenhagen or the genocidal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Still, with the Philippines labeled a danger zone because of the unrelenting attacks by the Abu Sayyaf, one of the home-grown “terrorist” groups beloved by the U.S. State Department (the other being the Communist-led New People’s Army, stigmatized by then State Secretary Colin Powell), we might take the case of Raymundo as an allegory of what’s going on in that otherwise obscure tropical archipelago once noted for hosting the largest US military bases during the Korean and IndoChina wars—a nearly anonymous remote group of islands that is still remembered for Bataan and Corregidor and the thousands of Filipino and American dead sacrificed by General Douglas McArthur for the Empire’s honor.

Raymundo’s plight has been succinctly summarized by Dr. Walden Bello, a tenured sociology professor at the same University and now a representative of the party-list Akbayan in the Philippine Congress (accessible at <http:// www.gopetition.com/online/

32122.html>). Although trained by the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, Bello knows the inner workings of the UP academic bureaucracy. The facts are simple: On April 2008, the tenured faculty of the Sociology Dept. in a vote of seven to three recommended granting of tenure to Raymundo on the basis of her substantial academic record. Seven months later, Raymundo was informed that the faculty decided to reverse their decision. What happened?
 

 

Wonders can happen, even in bureaucratic chambers, without covert CIA (or local military-police) cues. In the hiatus of seven months, the minority schemed to overthrow the majority by “manipulating the Chancellor for Academic Affairs” (to quote Bello) to demand that the majority who voted for Raymundo justify (again!) their decision. Surprise? This was evidently a ploy since the majority report affirmed that Raymundo exceeded the necessary requirements for tenure. Meanwhile, the college’s highest governing body, the College Executive Board (CEB), upheld the majority decision. Finally, the Diliman campus Chancellor Sergio Cao dismissed the CEB’s decision and refused tenure. In effect, the Chancellor sided with the minority. Why? Not because of Raymundo’s lack of academic excellence; everyone concedes that. It is because of Raymundo’s ethical stand, political beliefs, and civic conduct as the general-secretary of CONTEND (Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy) and active member of ACT (Association of Concerned Teachers) and the All-UP-Academic Employers Union. She is being penalized for those rare virtues.

Raymundo is alleged by her detractors to have been involved with groups in support of victims kidnapped, tortured and killed by the military, in particular Karen Empeno. To such vague and muddled allegations that she hid such involvements, Raymundo has fully responded in a substantial memorandum submitted on Nov. 16 to university president Erlinda Roman. She has never made her activism a secret to anyone. The department allegations are all shoddy innuendoes and insinuations, unworthy of even a C- sociology major. Roman, for her part, played the coy and hedging fox (or is it mealy-mouthed Pontius Pilate?) in her Dec. 14 memorandum to Cao and the current department chair Randolf David as she tendentiously recounted the whole rigmarole.

Admitting that there was no argument about Raymundo’s academic qualifications, president Roman seemed obsessed with a conundrum: whether the April vote really showed “consensus.” Given the contentious, politically charged milieu of everyday life in the Philippines from which the university is not immune, Roman believed that Raymundo’s politics fouled up, or more exactly problematized, consensus. The original vote of 7-3 did not truly express “consensus” if by the term we mean unanimous. It was hard to really determine what the department’s consensus was despite or notwithstanding the April vote, Roman thought aloud. In effect, that little word “consensus” became Roman’s alibi out of this sorry mess. Alternatively, it was her fortuitous disguise to appear neutral and above board, not least that she was exercising conscientious leadership of a great institution.
No, Roman was not a hypocrite, only a realist.

Cognizant that the composition of the department’s tenured faculty had meanwhile changed with the dropping-out of Raymundo’s supporters, Roman ordered another vote, which this time yielded the right “consensus”: 4 for-6 against Raymundo. The latest is the really more authentic “consensus” for Roman. Beholden to her neoliberal patrons in the “old boys’ network,” Roman knows that she has to safeguard her clientele within the university by upholding departmental cliques, “yahoo” mediocrity, at the expense of a more inclusive, libertarian, democratic, forward-looking vision of higher learning. This is perhaps too much to expect, given the politicized genealogy of UP presidencies. Compounding authoritarian methods and chicanery with fatuous casuistry, this whole exercise has now become a sad comment on the abysmal sinkhole to which this group of UP faculty and administrators have succumbed.

In summing up his brief supporting Raymundo, Dr. Bello pleaded to president Roman to “reverse a terrible miscarriage of justice and reassert UP’s commitment to academic excellence.” He was appealing to one of the executioners. Of course, operating legalistically within the institutional framework, Bello could not do otherwise—even though the case had already been thoroughly politicized by Raymundo’s enemies, those against Raymundo’s radical left-wing politics. He had already alienated the “yahoos” of the sociology department, which contaminated alleged progressives such as Randolf David and Cynthia Bautista. Can the Board of Regents, the last resort for the aggrieved, succeed in resisting the proven inertia of institutions and overturn Cao, Roman, and David? Maybe, if the popular-democratic voices prevail. Probably not, given the scandalous shenanigans of the traditional politicians challenging the Arroyo clique.

I want to sketch a parenthetical aside here. A subtext or submerged narrative, threaded with complex nuances that I cannot elaborate here, lurks behind this instructive controversy. Despite Bello’s tie-up with the Akbayan party and his record of defending his World-Social-Forum personality against the suspicions of former comrades in the anti-imperialist National Democratic Front-Philippines and in Bayan-Muna party (with which ACT and CONTEND are allied), he seems to have transcended sectarian narrow-mindedness, not to speak of barkada scholasticism. Meanwhile, the media-savvy Randy David, a leading member of BISIG (Bukluran sa Ika-uunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa; Association for the Advance of Socialist Words and Deeds), an admirer of Rorty and other Western elite missionaries, finds himself somehow aligned with conservative if not reactionary Neanderthals, or “yahoos” (to quote Bello). In a single stroke, he forfeited his claim to be a nationalist (in the tradition of his distinguished kin, Renato Constantino).

Incidentally, BISIG is one of the groups allied with Akbayan; BISIG’s former chair, UP President Francisco Nemenzo and other colleagues figured prominently in the 1993 Forum for Philippine Alternatives which rejected the political strategy and tactics of the Sison-led Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front-Philippines. Former comrades split, symptomatic of what was then happening in the Philippines during the retrograde administration of the late Corazon Aquino. For many academic leftists in a tributary shark-infested milieu, opportunism and obligatory tithes seem more functional if risky preoccupations in advancing careers than supporting human-rights organizations, or the cause of nationalist democracy. At any rate, this dialectical twist of events, one more proof of Lenin’s thesis that reality/practice is richer than theory, may augur a renewal of progressive and radical energies in the UP, despite Raymundo’s predicament. This may be a hope, but in a permanently crisis-wracked country like the Philippines, the improbable sometimes becomes realizable.

Lessons for Lilliputians

Our critique of abusive authority and conservative power needs to extend beyond the university precincts. As noted earlier, the neocolonial university is permeated with manifold contradictions symptomatic of the whole moribund system. To be sure, the balance of political forces may suddenly change and affect pedagogical agencies. One more Maguindanao massacre may stir up slumbering “people power.” If Raymundo’s case is not only flawed with procedural mistakes and ethical misjudgments, but also corrupted by scarcely veiled charges of political activism and humanitarian/social conscience on Raymundo’s part, it is shortchanging the victim if we do not put at the center of this whole affair the active complicity of Roman, Cao, Paredes, David, Bautista, Aquino, and others with a bankrupt regime that thrives on flagrant corruption, lies, mendacity, threats, and fascist violence—not least, the symbolic violence that the great sociologist Pierre Bourdieu associates with bureaucratic discourse, authoritarian procedures, and administrative rituals, such as tenure-granting (in which academic capital trumps intellectual capital), that insure the petty privileges of a self-perpetuating, obsequious elite.

What is to be done and undone? The now notorious “culture of impunity” fomented by the shameless Arroyo regime seems to have descended on the Diliman campus and is saturating the hallowed classrooms and libraries of this once esteemed sanctuary of learning. As it did before, once in the McCarthyist-like persecution of a community of pro-people nationalist scholars as communist sympathizers during the Magsaysay-Garcia regimes; this U.S.-styled witchhunt was repeated periodically in the terrible nights of collective suffering and resistance from the time of Marcos to Arroyo.

But lose no hope, friends and partisans in the global commons. While the UP is slowly being commercialized and privatized, students and faculty who are relatively privileged are feeling the pressures of unemployment, anomie, environmental degradation, and ubiquitous military-police violence. While serving the neocolonial state and the predatory merchants of global capital, the UP remains funded by taxpayers and is ultimately answerable to the Filipino people. Resistance to capitalist globalization is gradually rising, as shown by this robust and enthusiastic international support for Raymundo and what she stands for.

In California and elsewhere, students and faculty are rebelling against state terrorism: cutbacks in salaries, privatization, lay-offs, deterioration all around. Many are beginning to grasp that higher public education is a social and human right, no less than health care, food, and adequate shelter. Peoples around the world are mobilizing against the global war of terror launched by the U.S. corporate elite. The Filipino people are crying “No more massacres” by Arroyo and her Ampatuan accomplices.

Whatever the final arbitration of her case, Sarah Raymundo’s voice cannot be repressed or denied “tenure”—an index of the inexhaustible resources, energy and intelligence of the Filipino people fighting for justice and liberation in solidarity with others beyond the surveillance of the gatekeepers of the University of the Philippines and other public institutions.
_______

           
   

 

The case of Sarah Raymundo, in this time of insanity

Dear UP Law students,

May I refer you to recent developments in the tenureship case of Sociology Professor Sarah Raymundo, which could soon make its way into regular courts if the BOR decision on January 29 is unfavorable. This is a peculiar instance where departmental autonomy is pitted against parochial politics, in the context of UP's tenureship rules.

Ma'am Sarah has a brilliant academic record, which well complied with the requirements of tenureship. But she allegedly has a record of "dishonesty" in dealings outside of the classroom, in relation to the issue of Karen Empeno's enforced disappearance.

She was denied tenure by the Sociology department despite winning in two votes: in the first round 7-3 and in the second 5-4-1(abstain). The first vote is a clear majority, but was reconsidered upon appeal by the minority. The second vote was held binding, and was basis for the denial because it did not comply with the "2/3 majority" rule (something belatedly laid out by the department chair).

As it appears, the decision to deny her tenure (and hence, employment) was anchored on the discretion of the Sociology faculty. Chancellor Cao and President Roman both denied her appeals to reconsider.

Academic tenure and freedom are two sides of the same coin. In Constitutional Law II we laid out that academic tenure protects academic freedom by ensuring that teachers can be fired only for causes such as gross professional incompetence, substantial and manifest neglect of duty, behavior that evokes condemnation from the academic community itself, and personal conduct which substantially impairs the individual's fulfillment of institutional responsibilities.

Ma'am Sarah's alleged dishonesty arose during one or two of the press conferences after Karen Empeno's disappearance. I myself am uncertain about the exact nature of her transgression, but in a manner of saying, she was supposedly guilty of putting Karen, a UP student, in danger (or at least, encouraging Karen's life-changing decisions).

Karen and I were friends and batchmates. We worked on our theses at roughly the same time, and sometimes shared notes, resources, insights. We both believed in putting our theoretical lessons to actual practice (as Karen put it in sociology terms, praxis).

We sought the best advisers, even outside of our departments and the university. I am not thoroughly familiar with how Karen’s thesis worked out because we lost contact, but I see no strangeness if she turned to Ma’am Sarah for advice. Ma’am Sarah is friend to anybody who can argue with her for at least five minutes.

Ma’am Sarah is one of the most sought-after and most-admired professors in UP. In this RGEP-era, her subjects are bestsellers (ironically, she was anti-RGEP). She appealed to activists and conservatives, non-conformists and traditionalist, free thinkers and rote learners alike. I hope those of us who may have been her students would personally attest to that.

I hope you can squeeze in the time to read the materials on Ma’am Sarah’s case and perhaps sign the petition at http://tenureforsarahraymundo.blogspot.com/.

Thank you, especially for sharing in the burden. Wouldn’t you also find it hard to remain sane in a world where we UP law students are pushed to perfection, while UP lets go of brilliant professors, journalists are murdered, Gloria is running for congressman, and Karen is still missing --

Krissy Conti
B2012

 

 
 
   
**          

 

 
 

Google