WHAT has happened to the University of the Philippines, supposedly the country’s center of scholarship that is subsidized by tens of billions of taxpayers’ money, and which for decades has been headed by people who resist mobs and even governments in order to assert the institution’s academic independence?
It now has a president so spineless and so worried he might lose his well-paid job, that he immediately capitulated to the small but noisy leftist gangs in the university.
UP President Danilo Concepcion was without an iota of doubt a huge supporter of the strongman Marcos all throughout his regime.
As a Marcos believer, he got to be a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Valenzuela, 1972 to 1974, and president of the Kabataang Barangay Federation of Metro Manila from 1976 to 1978. Under Marcos’ aegis, he was youth sector representative in the Interim Batasang Pambansa, the proto-parliament that the dictator had organized, from 1978 to 1984. A Marcos stalwart, now senator Richard Gordon, took Concepcion into his law firm, which became the base for his legal career.
Nothing wrong with that, and — despite the Yellows’ propaganda that martial law was a dark period of our history — many of the country’s best and the brightest worked under Marcos in their conviction that he was leading the country out of our quagmire, as strongmen all over our part of the world were doing.
We even had a president who was martial law’s muscle: Marcos’ cousin Fidel Ramos who headed the national police (called the Philippine Constabulary) for the entire period of that regime. The administrator and legal eagle of the regime was Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, at 93 a revered elder statesman of our nation.
Last August 27, officials and members of Marcos-era Kabataang Barangay — the strongman’s project to mobilize the youth for building the nation (or alternatively, depending on your political persuasion, to get the youth to support his regime) — had a reunion at the UP Alumni Association’s event venue, attended even by Imee Marcos, who headed the KB in that era. Concepcion, one of the top bigwigs of the KB, of course, attended it, “to be with old friends I haven’t seen for decades,” he said.
A harmless reunion of an organization, the kind that people in their 50s and 60s revel in to relive their youth, the best times of their lives.
That apparently got the goat of the Communist Party commissars secretly leading the party cells at the UP, which they think is their Red base in the metropolis. The university’s Student Council, almost always controlled by the Left except for a brief period in 1973, at the end of that day issued a statement claiming the event was an insult not only to the “victims of martial law” but also “ of the atrocities of the Duterte administration.” It wasn’t clear though if the council even met to approve the statement or whether it was merely the statement of its chair.
Former Negros NPA commander (and short-lived Duterte social welfare secretary) Judy Taguiwalo led a sparsely attended press conference that cried to high heavens that “victims of martial law were insulted” by the KB’s holding of their reunion within UP.
Four days later, the UP “history department’s” website had a post condemning Concepcion’s attendance at the reunion, with the statement filled with all the usual communist slogans against the Marcos regime. What is so shameful about that is that while it claimed to be the statement of the “UP Department of History” it didn’t list the people in that department who supported it. Cowards, indeed.
That website which claims to be the history department’s official website doesn’t even identify who its chairman currently is. The entire UP website is so badly made that believe it or not, it doesn’t even have a directory of its colleges and departments identifying the chairman of these units. The only data I could find after an hour of googling is that one Maria Bernadette Abrera, in an item dated 2012, was the chairman.
But such anti-Marcos hysteria is not unexpected from organizations controlled by the Communist Party whose growth almost entirely has been based on portraying Marcos as bloodthirsty tyrant that all Filipinos must overthrow, under the leadership of course of the party.
Two days later, Concepcion profusely apologized that he joined his friends KB party and said that the “university under my watch will never forget the dark period of our country during the Martial Law years.” The alumni association, which had more sense and courage than Concepcion, issued a statement that it “believes in giving all sectors of society, including politicians and political parties, an opportunity to be heard, and express their opinions.” That should have been the principled stand of the UP’s president.
But, what a gutless, unprincipled fellow this Concepcion is. He was an ardent supporter of martial law , and after it ended in 1986, he never said anything bad about it. After being threatened by a leftist cabal in the university, he changed his mind, sharing the Left gang’s view that the martial law was “a dark period” of our history.
Obviously, this yellow-bellied little man was terrified of the statement of the student council, the anonymous one by a purported history department, and a sparsely attended press conference. Since when did the student council, a department, and a band of leftists determine the stand of the university on any issue? Did Concepcion get the approval for his statement from the UP system’s other campuses and departments? No.
He was of course, worried that he’d be seeing demonstrations — even if small — in front of his office, and god forbid, that he loses his job with all the perks, like a huge house on campus.
But not only that, he practically pissed in his pants so frightened of the Left that he issued a “Proclamation No. 1” — i.e. the first such “Proclamation” issued by any UP President — declaring September 21 (the declaration of martial law) as a Day of Remembrance.
“I hereby authorize and encourage the holding of special lectures, meetings, and ceremonies devoted to the commemoration of UP’s participation and sacrifice in the struggle against martial law.” What an opportunist jerk: He supported and benefited from Martial Law and never said a word against it. Now that he’s being threatened by small leftist mobs in the university, and he badmouths it, even becoming the first UP president to condemn that very controversial period of our history.
Concepcion should be fired. He has no clue about what heading an academic institution is for, which is to search for the truth beyond political partisanship.
He declares in his proclamation: “Martial Law resulted in severe political and economic repression, generating widespread discontent and resistance among the Filipino people.”
That statement is the narrative o the Aquino oligarchy and the Yellow Cult it created. The martial law regime, as true of any era in any society, was a complex phenomenon, with its bad and good aspects.
A facile way of debunking the demonization of martial law is to ask the question: If Martial Law was so bad, why have its pillars — Ramos, Enrile, and its chief economic manager Cesar Virata — been revered to this day as respectable leaders?
Why has the UP itself renamed its College of Business Administration after Virata, who was given nearly total control of Martial Law’s economic policies?
That there has been little protest against that renaming of that college indicates the fact that the UP is not unanimous in its view that Martial Law should be condemned. As in any society or community, there is probably a majority there who have a more realistic view of Martial Law. They are just afraid of the tiny but noisy Left groups, or prefer not to bothered and just devote their time to their scholarly pursuits.
What makes Concepcion’s statement so nauseating is that he is the president of an institution of scholarship, and 30 years after Martial Law ended there hasn’t been any objective scholarly work on it. What we have are books and articles mostly by American writers right after Marcos fell trying to cash in on the best-selling possibilities of their hurriedly written books “exposing” how horrific the strongman was. Or by second-rate writers paid generously by the Yellow Cult.
In two weeks, Concepcion changed his view of Martial Law, and abandoned his friends of three decades.
Do we want people like this to lead our premier university? Duterte should find some way to fire this milksop.
Neither the UP nor its fellow ideological traveler, the Ateneo de Manila University, has produced any scholarly, objective work on martial law. How can the president of a university condemn martial law so much that he declares a “Day of Remembrance” for its victims, without any basis in scholarship?
I correct that a bit. What could pass off as a scholarly work dealing with Martial Law was published by the UP’s most eminent economist, Gerardo Sicat, who was Marcos’ economic planning secretary for most of his regime. The book was disguised as a paean to his patron Marcos’ first and last prime minister, Virata, entitled Cesar Virata: Life and Times; Through Four Decades of Philippine Economic History. Those four decades roughly cover the period of Marcos’ rule as president and “authoritarian” leader.
Guess what, it mostly praised Marcos’ achievement during those decades, and provided strong arguments and data for its claims.