UP graduates stronger in the face of crises due to pandemic: chancellor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 25 2021 11:57 AM

MANILA — Graduates of the University of the Philippines (UP) are more prepared to face life outside the state school after facing a tough academic year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo said Sunday.

Nemenzo was among those who spoke at the UP Diliman virtual graduation ceremony, which had the theme "Kanlungan" or "sanctuary." It's the second year that the state university held an online graduation due to the continuing health crisis.

"Kung may isang bagay ang hinubog ng pandemyang ito, ito ang kakayahan nating humarap sa mga krises," Nemenzo said.

(If there's one thing that this pandemic shaped, it's our ability to face crises.)

"If there's one thing that you take away from your UP education, it is that it has been permanently marked by the lessons of the pandemic. You must translate this experience into the agility, grit, and resilience that shall prepare you for the world beyond the university," he added.

Nemenzo said the UP is also facing threats against academic freedom.

"Hindi lang krises ng pandemya ang kinakaharap nating pagsubok sa ngayon. Nandiyan din ang banta sa ating kalayaan bilang isang pamantasan, ang walang tigil na pananakot at pagsisiil sa ating academic freedom," he said.

(The pandemic isn't the only crisis we're facing right now. There's also the threat to our freedom as a university, the endless intimidation and opression of our academic freedom.)

In January, the Department of National Defense (DND) ended a decades-old agreement with UP, which sets guidelines on military and police operations inside the state university's campuses.

In terminating the UP-DND accord, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army has been using the pact as a "shield" to recruit UP students.

Nemenzo, in his speech, said, "Ilang beses na tayong pinagbintangan at binansagang kanlungan umano ng mga ideoholiyang tutol sa gobyerno. Pero ang dapat maintindihan ng lahat, dito sa UP Diliman, pinahahalagahan natin ang iba't ibang prinsipyo, pananaw."

(We've been repeatedly accused of harboring those whose ideologies go against the government. But what everyone should understand is here in UP Diliman, we value different principles and views.)

Nemenzo urged students to "speak in defense of UP, in defense of your education, in defense of our people."

Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, director of the UP-Philippine General Hospital, also delivered a message to the graduates, stressing on the state university's role in the fight against COVID-19.

PGH is one of the few referral hospitals for COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, leading in the fight against the respiratory illness.

Legaspi noted that many experts and scientists who are finding ways to fight COVID-19 also come from UP.

The hospital director urged UP graduates to find ways to improve the lives of Filipinos.

— Report from Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

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