Sunday, April 17, 2011

Editoryal: See no evil, hear no evil | Philippine Collegian

For the 100th commencement exercises, the UP administration chose President Benigno Aquino III as the commencement speaker and conferred on him the university’s highest academic honor: an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree. It was one of the biggest insults to the academe.

What is an insult? It is when the school administration honors a person that all sectors in the university – faculty, students, employees – have condemned for his incompetence and broken promises. The administration, however, seemed to believe that Aquino still has a spotless performance, awarding him the honorary degree for “providing leadership in rallying the people to stomp out corruption,” and promoting the rule of law and respect for people’s constitutional rights.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Nothing could be more absurd.

The see-no-evil, hear-no-evil administration has forgotten that Aquino was the same person who claimed that the historically massive cut on the UP budget was only just. He was the same person who insisted that UP already had its own means of generating funds, thus, the billion-peso cut on the budget would do no harm. Aquino, the president who does not understand that the budget cut could lead to tuition hikes for the state universities to sustain their operations. Aquino, who does not understand the meaning of a state university, the only hope of the impoverished to send their children to college.

This was also the same person who had done nothing in the recent spate of fare, commodity and oil price hikes. His administration claimed that it cannot do anything with the oil price hikes because prices in the global market were steadily increasing. But this could only be either of two things: a failure to see that it has the capacity to control the price hikes, or a lie to cover up for its negligence.

For instance, Aquino’s government refuses to scrap the Oil Deregulation Law (ODL), which has long allowed oil companies to dictate prices in the country with the removal of government intervention. It aimed to prevent oil price hikes by encouraging competition among the private players. After 13 years of implementation, it does not take a genius to see that the ODL has defeated its own purpose.

These actions are in no way a form of respect for people’s constitutional rights, such as the right to education, contrary to what the UP administration claims.


More important, in awarding Aquino for his anti-corruption campaign, the UP administration agrees with the president’s shallow understanding of poverty and other social dilemmas. For a university that fosters critical thinking, there is no reason to acknowledge a person who reduces the structural problem of poverty to moral bankruptcy in the government.

Aquino’s poor understanding of the social conditions reflects how he has isolated himself from the people he promised to serve. He is unfamiliar with the plight of the majority because he does not attempt to get out of the comforts of his wealth and executive power to truly examine the dilemmas that burden the impoverished. As a result, his administration has only prescribed ineffective and half-baked solutions to long-standing social problems.

By the same token, the UP administration is isolating itself from its constituents in awarding the highest academic honor to Aquino. It sends a clear message to the more than 4,000 graduates: Aquino is an example for them to look up to. This is an offense to a university whose primary purpose is to provide service to the people.

Editoryal: See no evil, hear no evil | Philippine Collegian

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