MANILA- The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) on Friday urged its students to defend democratic institutions as it expressed support for constitutional bodies in the face of what it called "retaliatory attacks" by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a memorandum addressed to the university community, ADMU President Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin expressed concern over efforts that tend to "undermine" the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Supreme Court, and the Office of the Ombudsman in carrying out their respective mandates.
"Legitimate processes are being exploited to undermine and deter these bodies from merely exercising their mandates," Villarin said.
Villarin cited the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the House of Representatives' earlier move to defund the CHR, and the President's newly-created anti-corruption commission to investigate corruption allegations against presidential appointees, among others.
The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission was formed after the Ombudsman announced an investigation into Duterte's and his family's wealth, and after the President said he would investigate alleged anomalies at the office of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
"We stand behind these constitutional bodies in their mission to pursue and attain transparency, accountability, truth, and justice," Villarin said.
"We call on everyone in the community to defend our democratic institutions. Let us urge our leaders in government to allow full independence for these constitutional bodies to implement their crucial mandates by desisting from any form of intimidation in the guise of legal action," he added.
Last month, the Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion protested extrajudicial killings in the country and the proposed P1,000-budget for the CHR in a performance in one of the university's basketball games.
The House eventually restored the proposed CHR budget.