Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Commentary: U.P. Manila University Council to U.P. President Emerlinda Roman and Palace Regents: "We uphold Dr. Jose Gonzales as PGH Director."

College of Arts and Sciences, University of the
Philippines Manila showing the Oblation (Source:

The website U.P. Issues has just posted an update on developments in U.P. Manila with respect to faculty support for deposed University of the Philippines (U.P.) Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Director Jose Gonzales. The website states: "The University Council of UP Manila resolved (on April 13, 2010) to uphold the UP College of Medicine College Council resolution upholding Dr. Jose Gonzales as PGH Director. (U.P. Manila) Chancellor (Ramon) Arcadio wants to conduct a referendum on the matter. If Arcadio wants… a resounding approval of Dr. Jose Gonzales then let’s give him a wake up call."

With this development, U.P. President Emerlinda Roman and the Malacañang Regents are now presented with a classic dillemma with respect to their recent railroading of a decision to depose Dr. Gonzales as the duly selected Director of the PGH and replacing him with a more malleable but more junior Dr. Enrique Domingo, who has publicly stated that he is in favour of the continuation of the project to privatize portions of the PGH through a contract signed last July 2009 by President Roman with the Daniel Mercado Medical Center (DMMC). Dr. Gonzales says that he opposes the project in its present form. The Department of Justice is against the project because it says it is contrary to existing laws, and has pointed out that the U.P. Charter (R.A. 9500) requires that thorough public consultation of affected constituents needed to be done rather than through a legal sleight-of-hand where the U.P. Administration is essentially stating that since negotiations began before the passage of R.A. 9500 into law, then the more rigorous requirements of the U.P. Charter did not apply to the DMMC contract (see Diliman Diary, March 3, 2010:

On the one hand, President Roman, who voted for Dr. Domingo, and the Malacañang regents, can collectively be expected to be in favour of retaining Dr. Domingo since they are essentially the same proponents of the PGH privatization, and Dr. Domingo can be expected to act as their strong right arm in U.P. PGH to ensure the project is followed to the letter.

On the other hand, President Roman and the Malacañang regents are also guided by clause 3h of R.A. 9500 ( which states that the University shall:

"Provide democratic governance in the University based on collegiality, representation, accountability, transparency and active participation of its constituents, and promote the holding of fora for students, faculty, research, extension and professional staff (REPS), staff, and alumni to discuss non-academic issues affecting the University."

President Roman's conduct and behavior in the case of the PGH Director is also guided by Section 14 of R.A. 9500 which states that, "The President of the University is the chief academic officer, head of the university faculty and the chief executive officer of the University." Thus, as the chief academic officer and head of the university faculty, she cannot ignore the academic freedom of the U.P. Manila University Council who voted in the majority to uphold the selection of Dr. Gonzales as PGH Director.

Observers state that Dr. Gonzales was targeted for removal by elements within the BOR for his uncompromising stand on rejecting the rampant commercialization of PGH at the cost of denying much needed revenues to revenue generating units  such as PGH's pharmacy and diagnostics center; by allowing DMMC to directly compete against them. Dr. Gonzales says that given the annual budgetary shortfall of PGH, the cannibalization of mission-critical revenue generating units had to be opposed since the funds were needed to augment the budgetary shortfall of the PGH, which services up to 500,000 indigent patients a year. PGH's budgetary shortfall in 2008 reached PhP 1.7 billion, according to the Commission on Audit.

However, for standing up for his principles and paying the price by being deposed as PGH Director by the BOR , observers state that Dr. Gonzales has essentially been stripped of his academic freedom by President Roman and the BOR. Scholars worldwide cite how Academic Freedom is repeatedly under attack in several fronts by bureaucrat-capitalists in the academe. For example, proponents of academic freedom believe that "the freedom of inquiry by students and faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy," and that Dr. Gonzales should not have been persecuted for merely expressing an opinion.

An article on Academic Freedom in Wikipedia stated that: "(Proponents) argue that academic communities are repeatedly targeted for repression due to their ability to shape and control the flow of information. When scholars attempt to teach or communicate ideas or facts that are inconvenient to external political groups or to authorities, they may find themselves targeted for public vilification, job loss, imprisonment, or even death. For example, in North Africa, a professor of public health discovered that his country's infant mortality rate was higher than government figures indicated. He lost his job and was imprisoned."

It still remains to be seen as to whether President Roman will undertake the harder right -- which is to close ranks with -- and respect the Academic Freedom of the U.P. Manila University Council to uphold the selection of Dr. Gonzales by the BOR in December 18, 2009 or at the very least initiate a new round of votes in the BOR for a "sudden death" vote between Dr. Gonzales and Dr. Domingo -- or whether she and the Palace regents will succumb to the pressure of commercial interests and pressure from the Palace to retain Dr. Domingo -- and -- thereby -- wholeheartedly embrace -- the easier wrong .


The draft of the resolution can be accessed through the website, U.P. Issues which was posted on April 17, 2010:

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