A blow to UP econ profs’ integrity

I was surprised at the vitriol hurled by 23 professors of the UP School of Economics against the students who demonstrated last week against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, one or two of whom reportedly threw coins and a placard at him, (Jungian synchronicity? It was also a placard thrown at Marcos on January 26, 1970 as he was leaving Congress that triggered the massive student demonstrations against the regime called the First Quarter Storm.)

In their joint statement, the professors called the students “enemies of the University,” a term which is very revealing of their mindset. That term is of the same genre that fascists and authoritarian regimes hurl at those who criticize them: “Enemies of the State.”

It was a bit hilarious, though, that they sounded like the medieval Spanish Inquisition demanding confessions from heretics: They asked those who participated in the demonstration to “own up… and proffer a public apology to Secretary Abad and to the University.” Public apology to an official who thrashed the Constitution?

I was shocked that they asked the “University authorities” to hunt down what Abad had called “hooligans,” and punish them. Will they next put a bounty on the students’ capture? We’re very lucky economists never get to be dictators.

Nowhere in their shrill, angry statement did they mention that the students were not demonstrating against just any government official but one of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd’s closest officials who invented and implemented the misnamed Disbursement Acceleration Plan (DAP).

mobbings20140922
A tale of two student mobbing: (Left) Marcos in January 1970 as he left Congress, just before a placard was thrown at him, which triggered the First Quarter Storm. (Right) Abad in September 2014 as he left a UP hall, which triggered UP economists’ vitriol.

 

If they haven’t been reading the news—there’ no mention of DAP at all in their statement — this is the unprecedented hijacking of the budget, the taxpayers’ money, to bribe Congress to remove the Supreme Court Chief Justice, to bankroll this Administration’s 2013 election campaign, and to use at his and Aquino’s whim those funds such as the P2 billion allocated for “various infrastructure” projects for Tarlac province.

They could have easily inserted a phrase in their statement, such as “Abad, the alleged architect of the controversial DAP.” Nope, they consistently referred to Abad with utmost respect as “Secretary Abad,” with absolutely no hint of the very serious accusations against him.

Maybe the UP professors were acting as spokesmen for most of the UP faculty. After all, Abad allocated P1.29 billion of the DAP to the UP, about P400 million of which was meant for faculty housing.

The UP professors referred to Abad as one of “bearers of contrary and unfashionable ideas,” who had a right to espouse his ideas in the University.

What? Abad’s ideas were to trample the Constitution and bribe Congress to take out the Chief Justice, and they call these merely “contrary and unfashionable ideas”?

In a society truly ruled by law, Abad would have been fired, made to face charges and jailed. Here, the University Student Council of the country’s top academic institution even invites him to lecture them on the “budget process.”

Were they ignorant that Abad’s DAP has been one of the biggest crimes inflicted on the nation, something that will certainly be proven in thousands of malversation cases that will be brought against him and his boss as soon as they step down from power?

The militant students did what they did out of anger, and frustration that their fellow students and their elders in the academe – professors – and even the country’s elected representatives in Congress had turned a blind eye to what this official has done to the country.

The UP professors called the demonstration an “assault on the University.”

But did they ever condemn the assault on our democratic system, the rape of our Republic engineered by Abad, through his DAP – successful in 2011 and 2012 until it was stopped by the Supreme Court?

Did these professors bother in the past year to issue the shortest of statements to the Supreme Court when it was deliberating on the constitutionality of DAP that their beloved “Secretary Abad” was corrupting economic concepts when he claimed that his DAP was responsible for stimulating the economy in 2011 and 2013?

Did you ever hear these professors condemn the fact that Abad hijacked what is the main economic tool of government, which is the budget? And several of these economists who signed the silly statement were supposed to be experts in fiscal policies!

Did they bother to issue a statement, that their beloved “Secretary Abad” had aggravated the country’s political patronage system — a phenomenon many of them condemned in their obtuse dissertations—by tripling the pork barrel funds to Congress from the P5 billion average annually form 2001 to 2010 to P21 billion yearly when he assumed power?

Did they ever issue a statement that Abad and even President Aquino should be made accountable for their high crime of throwing to the dustbin the budget, which Congress is solely empowered by the Constitution to formulate?

Did they even bother to study the DAP for themselves, so they could conclude—and issue angry statements—that it withdrew budgets the Congress approved for thousands of scholarships and medical care for indigents, for crucial programs as flood-control infrastructure?

The School of Economics professors played a key role in our history when a few years before the dictatorship collapsed, they collectively issued a study showing in detail how the Marcos government had led the country to ruin. That glorious era of our UP School of Economics is obviously long gone.

Now they defend somebody who has helped destroy the democratic institutions of our country, even asking authorities to hunt down students protesting against such an official. In the ‘80s they protested the dictatorship, now they rant and rave against the youth fighting a de facto dictatorship.

Their statement condemning the demonstrating students and saying nothing about the DAP is a severe blow to their integrity.

Following are the names of the economics professors— roughly half of the faculty— who have signed that statement so sycophantic to Abad. To UP students who have the same balls as the demonstrators, I urge you to ask them in class the questions I’ve asked above, and I would appreciate you emailing me their replies:

Rosa M. Alonso Terme, Maria Joy Abrenica, Ruperto Alonzo, Agustin Arcenas, Romeo Balanquit, Joseph Capuno, Fidelina Carlos, Ramon Clarete, Rolando Danao, Sarah Lynne Daway, Emmanuel de Dios, Emmanuel Esguerra, Aleli Kraft, Cielo Magno, Maria Nimfa Mendoza, Toby Melissa Monsod, Marjorie Pajaron, Stella Luz Quimbo, Majah-Leah Ravago, Renato Reside, Gerardo Sicat, Solita Monsod, and Raul Fabella—the last three having been the economic planning heads respectively of Marcos, Cory, and Estrada.

* * *

In his statement complaining about the incident, Abad said: “I have always believed that the public’s ability to voice its opposition to the government is a necessary character of a healthy democracy. But to do full justice to this, we must be willing to engage others in peaceful dialogue. It is upon us to appreciate the diversity of ideas that make our young democracy so unique and promising.”

The Manila Times has been undertaking a regular round-table discussion with government officials, ambassadors, and businessmen. I dare Mr. Abad to engage us in a “peaceful dialogue” on the DAP and be a guest in such a roundtable discussion. Don’t worry, the Manila Times building is such a labyrinth that would allow us to station guards at every corner to prevent UP students from bothering him.