The University of the Philippines (U.P.) Administration and the U.P. Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Administration are now moving to silence the PGH Faculty and Staff regarding the removal as PGH Director of Dr. Jose Gonzales by the Board of Regents (BOR) by limiting their ability to strike and assemble; but the list of discontented doctors just keeps on growing anyway.
But ominously, the recent actions of the both the U.P. Administration and the PGH Administration towards the common faculty members of the PGH and the U.P. College of Medicine (UPCM) appear to be guided and best summed up by the West African proverb which advises a warrior approaching a wild, raging dangerous animal in the African bush to "Speak softly, but carry a Big Stick."
And what a Big Stick is now being wielded by U.P. and PGH against the equivalent of a raging beast which are hundreds of angry PGH doctors and medical personnel who oppose the removal of Dr. Gonzales and his replacement with Dr. Enrique Domingo. The threat of the loss of job security may be on the line for these doctors - who have gone on mass leave of absence to protest the removal of Dr. Gonzales - as well as the use of state-sanctioned violence and intimidation through the use of PGH security guards to limit the doctors' right to assemble - may also be in the offing.
Here's what we know so far about the U.P. Administration and the U.P. PGH Administration's official pronouncements:
- On March 29, 2010 the U.P. Administration posted an announcement on its own website that was billed as a joint statement from PGH and UPCM (http://www.up.edu.ph/features.php?i=196) stating that: "Consistent with the University’s policy of respecting our constituents’ right to express their views, the reported leave of absence will be properly evaluated and approved upon submission, subject to existing University rules and regulations." This statement means that the U.P. Administration has the right to disapprove any LOAs and to impose sanctions for pesonnel who embark on unapproved leaves of absence.
- On March 31, right before the start of the Holy Week celebrations, Dr. Domingo issued a memo, Memorandum 2010-44 addressed to all department and unit heads, Memorandum Circular No. 6 of 1987 of the Civil ServiceCommission "which reminds all concerned of the prohibition for government officials and employees from staging strikes demonstrations, mass leaves walk-outs and other forms of mass action which will result in temporary stoppage or disruption of public service." However, while the concerned Memorandum Circular No. 6 prohibits government employees from effectively engaging in a strike by staging a mass walk-out, a mass leave is nothing but the sum total of several individuals filing their formal leaves of absence. As of March 31, 92 doctors had already signified their intention to go on mass LOA in the near future.
- On March 29, 2010 Dr. Domingo issued Memorandum 2010-39 which stated that "The Flag Raising Ceremony is a solemn activity honoring our flag and country at the start of every working week. To avoid any disrespect to the Philippine flag all programs following the flag raising are hereby suspended until further notice. The flag shall be raised every Monday at 6:00 am with full honor guard by the UP Manila Security Office and all those present at that time are invited to witness and attend." Since flag ceremonies in all government institutions, including U.P. are usually held at 8:00 a.m., this move is widely seen by observers as a tactic by Dr. Domingo to circumvent the kind of mass gathering that could take place at a later time when more doctors and medical personnel are around. The presence of armed security guards at that hour also ensures that all other programs remain suspended and creates a "chilling effect" against mass gatherings protesting the removal of Dr. Gonzales.
The U.P. Administration and the BOR has failed to intelligently explain to its own faculty and the public why Dr. Gonzales, who is more senior and experienced than Dr. Domingo was removed and replaced by Dr. Domingo beyond the legal arguments being peddled by the U.P. Legal Office. The majority of the faculty of the UPCM have voted to retain Dr. Gonzales and are insisting that their Academic Freedom be respected. But Dr. Domingo's administration seems determined to pursue a mailed fist policy against his own colleagues, including the cutting off of the electricity to Dr. Gonzales's office despite the U.P. Administration's unwillingness to to credibly answer questions about the legitimate right to vote of several regents who voted to remove Dr. Gonzales and replace him with Dr. Domingo when they had expired papers during those periods of time (See Diliman Diary, March 23, 2010: http://diliman-diary.blogspot.com/2010/03/success-diliman-diary-finally-gets.html).
Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity asked to join Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity in mass LOA to help UP-PGH
Meantime, Dr. Iggy Agbayani, one of the organizers of the LABAN UPPGH Movement wrote today in his Facebook account that there was no correlation between the calls to protest the removal of Dr. Gonzales and the fact that Dr. Domingo was a member of the Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity. The only other medical fraternity in UPCM is the Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity.
He said therre were "those who have created a fake fraternity war between the Phi Kappa Mu and the Mu Sigma Phi fraternity to keep members of the Mu Sigma Phi from joining the protest activities against the oppressive and undemocratic governance of President Roman and BOR. Even if it is clear that no member of the BOR nor Roman herself is a member of the Mu Sigma Phi this mindset of Phi vs Mu abounds.”
“During the short period of Dr. Gonzales' directorship he even appointed five members of the Mu Sigma Phi to be chairmen of the various PGH Departments because he believes that what is good for PGH transcends the rivalry of fraternities. There exists a strong rivalry between these two organizations but I think the excuse of not joining a cause to help PGH because of affiliation or friendship has long expired.”
“Even rivals can agree and see if real oppression has been done or when true democracy has been thwarted. I know that my many friends and colleagues in the Mu Sigma Phi are just as passionate and as keen to fight what is wrong and to bring back what is right. In this spirit I would like to call on the Mu doctors and faculty of PGH and even the students and alumni of my rival fraternity to join our protest. Signify your intention to join the mass LOA before it is too late. Sumama na kayo sa Laban para sa UP-PGH upang Ibalik ang Tama.”
(Chanda Shahani is the Editor of the Diliman Diary. He finished A.B. Comparative Literature from U.P. Diliman)
1) The embedded video is from: http://www.youtube.com/
2) Picture of the Oblation at the U.P. College of Medicine is reproduced with permission: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ggermar/4174819993/)