Student groups back Diliman chancellor's bid for UP president

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2022 12:28 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2022 12:44 PM

Nominee for UP president, Fidel R. Nemenzo, speaks at the forum, The Search for the Next University of the Philippines (UP) President, at the Cine Adarna, UPFI Film Center in UP Diliman Quezon CIty on November 11, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Nominee for UP president, Fidel R. Nemenzo, speaks at the forum, The Search for the Next University of the Philippines (UP) President, at the Cine Adarna, UPFI Film Center in UP Diliman Quezon CIty on November 11, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Student groups from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman endorsed Tuesday their chancellor, Fidel Nemenzo, for the university presidency.

UP Diliman Student Council Chairperson Latrell Felix said Nemenzo showed "strong support to our agenda as students as well as openness to consultation in addressing the demands of the student sector."

"Nemenzo, during his term as a chancellor, upheld academic freedom and ensured the security of [the university's] constituents," she said in an online press conference.

"He presented himself during mobilizations and demonstrations, in particular during the unilateral abrogation of the UP-DND Accord," Felix added.

The student leader was referring to the previous agreement between UP and the Department of National Defense, which prohibited state forces from conducting operations inside the state university's campuses without prior notice to the administration.

The pact was terminated last year by former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who claimed communist rebels were using the pact as a "shield" for their on-campus recruitment.

Nemenzo also supported the restoration of cuts in UP's 2023 budget and the "safe reopening of schools" after the implementation of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Felix.

Felix said the selection of the next UP president was "crucial" because it would "reflect how the university will proceed in the next six years."

"Students' education and democratic rights are at stake," she said, noting how members of the UP community have faced red-tagging and other security threats in recent years.

Other UP Diliman student councils and organizations participated in the press conference, similarly endorsing Nemenzo.

This comes after a group of national artists and scientists, and professors emeriti or retired faculty members issued a statement supporting Nemenzo.

"It is our most informed and judicious view that, among the current aspirants for UP President, only UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo fulfills all of our criteria for an ideal and exemplary academic leader," they said in a Nov. 30 statement.

The signatories include national artists Gemino Abad, Virgilio Almario, Benedicto Cabrera, Ryan Cayabyab and Ricky Lee; and former education secretary Leonor Briones.

The other candidates for UP president are Catanduanes State University President Patrick Alain Azanza, former 1-Ang Edukasyon Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr., former UP faculty regent Angelo Jimenez, forrmer UP Diliman vice chancellor for research and development Benito Pacheco and former UP Los Baños chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr.

The UP Board of Regents (BOR), the university's highest policy-making body, will vote on the next UP president on Friday (Dec. 9). 

"[Nananawagan kami sa] Board of Regents na mamimili ng susunod na UP president. Hanapin natin kung sino ang napatunayan nang tumitindig kasama ng UP community at kung sino ang may malinaw na plano para sa patuloy na pagtindig at paglaban para sa karapatan ng pamantasan," said Justin Daduya of student group Ugnayang Tanggol KAPP.

(We're calling on the Board of Regents that will choose the next UP president. Let's look for someone who has proven that they have stood up for the UP community, and someone who has a clear plan to keep standing up and fighting for the rights of our university.)

The BOR is led by Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Prospero de Vera and co-chaired by outgoing UP President Danilo Concepcion, whose six-year term is set to end on Feb. 9, 2023.

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