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Statement At A Caucus Of The House Of Representatives

February 16, 2021

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!

Thank you for inviting Holy Angel University to address this Caucus of the House of Representatives on academic freedom and the recent red-tagging of 38 universities. I will not pretend to speak on behalf of CEAP and our fellow red-tagged Catholic universities, but I am confident that we have shared sentiments.

Please allow me to begin with a quote.

The University is the place to which a thousand schools make contributions; in which the intellect may safely range and speculate, sure to find its equal in some antagonist activity, and its judge in the tribunal of truth. It is a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by the collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge.

This was not written by a university professor, but in 1852 by John Henry Cardinal Newman who Pope Francis canonized as a saint two years ago. The business of a university is to provide that atmosphere which is most conducive to speculation, experiment and creation.

The accusation that Holy Angel University and thirty-some other universities breeds Communists is utterly reckless in that it unfairly subjects schools with a vibrant legacy of student activism to trial by publicity. As a result, students and teachers are unnecessarily placed in harm’s way. Red-tagging also dismisses the contributions that generations of student leaders and student activists made to promote social justice and champion the marginalized. These are core themes of Catholic social teaching that are embodied in the mission of Catholic education. Many of our former student leaders have become leaders in government—past and present.

Holy Angel University cannot engage in historical revisionism ourselves by denying that NPA Kumander Dante, Kabataang Makabayan co-founder Nilo Tayag, and CPP chairman and NPA Kumander Bilog studied at Holy Angel during the 1960s. In fact, that was how I first heard about Holy Angel when I was a student at U.P. However, our alumni ranks also include many captains of industry, government leaders, musicians, beauty queens, and leaders of the Catholic Church led by our current Archbishop of San Fernando.

The university is a microcosm of society with a diversity of persuasions. It is a repository of ideas, which are food for the life of the mind. How students turn up after they had drunk their ideas from the horn of plenty, no one — absolutely no one — can predict. We at Holy Angel University seek to transform our students into persons of conscience, competence, and compassion. What our graduates choose to do with their education — for good or for bad — is an exercise of their free will for which we do not have any control and, therefore, should not be forced to account.

Because universities deal with the life of the mind, the academic community relies on academic freedom to discover, tinker with, express, and share express ideas. Let the military and police interfere with this sacred freedom; it will only alienate the students and lure them away from their studies and turn the campus into the devil's playground. The university will lose more of them to the enemies of the State and suffer an erosion of its academic standards.

As a Catholic university, Holy Angel University disavows violence, lawlessness, and such other illegal acts that the Communist insurgency espouses and fully expects all students and teachers to do the same. While we believe that as a Catholic institution it is our duty to obey and respect authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-3), we expect no less commitment from our government that it may continue its moral ascendancy to govern. We would much prefer that our government address poverty and other root causes of the insurgency and treat higher education institutions as partners. This is particularly important today as the pandemic has had a disproportionate adverse impact on the poor and the vulnerable.

As a regional university, Holy Angel University is committed to the development of the countryside, which includes the creation of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in Central Luzon, the support of high-quality educational institutions at all levels, and the like, as a sustainable solution to the eradication of poverty. We have been pursuing this strategic objective in strong partnership with the national and local governments, and we look forward to the continuation of this partnership — all in the service of the Filipino people, all for the greater glory of God!

Maraming salamat po!

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