Jan 2, 2012, 5:43 p.m. – There is no truth to the allegation that the University of Santo Tomas broke its rules to favor Chief Justice Renato Corona who graduated with the degree of Doctor of Laws from the University.

The University of Santo Tomas is an autonomous higher educational institution since 2002. By virtue of CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) 52 series 2006 and CMO 08 series 2009 Article 3, an autonomous HEI is considered by CHED as having attained consistent exemplary academic excellence in the provision of education, research and extension services through existing quality assurance mechanisms as evaluated by CHED according to the following critera: (a) long tradition of integrity and untarnished reputation and (b) commitment to excellence (c) sustainability and viability of operations.

As an autonomous HEI, the University of Santo Tomas enjoys an institutional academic freedom to set its standards of quality and excellence and determine to whom it shall confer appropriate degrees. Additionally, as an autonomous HEI, the University of Santo Tomas has been deputized by CHED to implement the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) by virture of CMO 41 series 2007. By virtue of the ETEEAP, the University, in accordance with its policies, processes and procedures accepted by CHED, is authorized to grant academic degrees to individuals whose relevant work experiences, professional achievements and stature, as well as high-level, non-formal and informal training are deemed equivalent to the academic requirements for such degrees.

The acceptance by CHED of the policies, processes and procedures adopted by the University of Santo Tomas for implementing the ETEEAP has been affirmed when the UST Graduate School previously conferred a doctorate degree in Literature to Madame Naty Crame Rogers, a theater icon and a luminary in the field of letters. The UST Graduate School made due assessment of her competencies based on the Ph.D. in Literature program’s expected learning outcomes. Her professional achievements spanning more than half a century were evaluated and were judged as equivalent to the course requirements of the said program. In lieu of a dissertation which is a partial requirement for the conferment of the degree, she presented her published works for which she received corresponding credit units.

Chief Justice Renato Corona, considering his track record as a lawyer, as an academician (he obtained two Masteral degrees, one of which is from Harvard University) and as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court could have easily applied for the degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Santo Tomas via the ETEEAP. But he did not. He painstakingly completed the 48 units course work in the Ph.D. in Law curriculum by regularly attending classes and fulfilling all the requirements in the subjects that he took. He also underwent the required written comprehensive examination and passed this with excellent results.

The Graduate School consultant for law programs requested the Faculty Council to waive the dissertation requirement. After all, she argued, a dissertation is not a sine qua non for the conferment of a graduate degree inasmuch as there are graduate programs in the university, approved by CHED, that follow a non-dissertation track.

The Graduate School Faculty Council refused to grant this request. Instead of waiving the dissertation requirement, it imposed on the Chief Justice an equivalent requirement: to write a scholarly treatise on any subject related to his field, to be delivered in public, and eventually published. He dutifully fulfilled these in 2010. The quality and relevance of his paper, his answers to the questions raised during the public forum, and the eventual publication of his paper were all evaluated and for which he was given the necessary credits equivalent to a dissertation.

Needless to say, since the university is an autonomous HEI, the other issues raised (his residency, the academic honor he received) are moot because these come under the institutional academic freedom of the University of Santo Tomas.
As an autonomous university and no less than the cradle of higher education in the Philippines and the oldest university in Asia, the University of Santo Tomas knows the academic rules and sees to their proper observance. All of those who have received their degrees from the University, including six chief justices before Mister Corona and even jurists from other countries, know that.

We wish Marites Vitug and the Philippine Daily Inquirer have observed the rules on objectivity and fairness—for the former when she wrote her online article, and for the latter when it published her article virtually word for word in its New Year’s edition yet, even adopting her rather judgmental title as banner headline. Miss Vitug did not make a disclosure that she has had a run-in with the Supreme Court and may have an axe to grind against it. The Inquirer did not get the side of the University and rushed to print with the online article; it merely repeated Miss Vitug’s claim that the University didn’t respond to her queries.

The University didn’t reply to Miss Vitug’s questions because it was at a loss on how to respond to “online journalism.” Does anyone claiming to be an online journalist given the same attention as one coming from the mainstream press? We understand that while Miss Vitug used to be a print journalist, she’s part of an online magazine, Newsbreak, which has reportedly been subsumed into “www.rappler.com.” What’s that? Is that a legitimate news organization? What individuals and entities fund Newsbreak and Rappler? Do these outfits have editors? Who challenged Miss Vitug’s article before it went online so as to establish its accuracy, objectivity and fairness? Why was there no prior disclosure made? What gate-keeping measures does online journalism practice?

While we may have the highest respects for Miss Vitug and the Inquirer, we also would like to see that rules on fact-checking, objectivity and fairness are observed, so that no reputation, whether of an individual or an institution, is compromised.


  1. UST is an academic institution. This is the academia not the political arena. There are two different consortia which operates on their specific lights. Such UGLY thing to do to drag the university to this blatant bickering. I have nothing but respect from the people of online journalism, but is this what we call the evidence of a healthy democracy? What if “corrupt” people [who are dominantly from UP] share the same fate? Hope Ms. Vitug and people from rappler.com have earned their end?

    Why not we all focus all our scholarly caps on things worth of allotting our energy with? Nation Building. It would not be attained by changing the leadership. Having the change of each individual to share the same vision: NATION TRANSFORMATION. Collectively, Change shall create from bottom to top.

    [Views from a USTGradStudent]

  2. The Graduate School consultant for law programs requested the Faculty Council to waive the dissertation requirement…The Graduate School Faculty Council refused to grant this request. Instead of waiving the dissertation requirement, it imposed on the Chief Justice an equivalent requirement: to write a scholarly treatise on any subject related to his field, to be delivered in public, and eventually published.
    – in short, UST bent its own rules for CJ Corona. this isn’t fair for students who worked hard to earn their well-deserved degrees

  3. Ganyan ba talaga tayo’ng mga Pinoy, d makaiwas sa mga away? Ang daming intriga from the work place down to the hallways of government. Mabuti nga sana ko’ng talagang nakakatulong ito sa ating ekonomiya, hinde naman. Might this be a reason why some of us are leaving our country because they have grown tired of our dirty politics nt only in the government but amost everywere in our country? A historian once mentioned based on his own observation of our people that we Filipinos abhor arogance of imperialism, those foreigners who once ruled us with arrogance, however he also mentioned that based on his observation, that Filipinos left on their own can also suppress or act arrogantly against his fellow Filipinos he considers beneath him. Is this he reason why there is so much feud here in this country? As if we can never solve anything unless we remove or imprison another. This time it is the justice system no less than our Supreme Court that is being attacked. I just hope these attackers are on the right side of justice themselves. There have been many in their ranks who once also ascended to power but once there proved to be as unjust or incompetent as the ones they have replaced. I am truly sad for our country at times and for our people. the innocents here could hardly expect anything good if there are many elements in our society who are only out there to foment ill will and nothing more. Indeed it is easier to destroy than to create.

  4. We seem to have the most brilliant writers with most impeccable grammar and yet, we’re still trailing behind so many countries when it comes to level of development. Your flawless grammar is not a guarantee that you help our country become what it hould be, a highly developed nation charaterized not only by high standard of living but also politically mature society with a stable executive, legislative, and judicial bodies. Minsan, ang gagaling ng mga Pinoy siraan ang isa’t isa sa pamamagitan lamang ng paniniwalang mas mahusay sila sa iba nilang kababayan sa panitikan o nao pa man, ngunit ang totoo nyan, hanggang dyan lang pala talaga ang maiambag niya at walang maitulong sa kapayapaan o pag unlad ng kanyang pamayanan kahit mn lang sana makatulong sya sa pag usbong pa ng kapayapaan. Kakatawang isipin na minsan mas mahusay pa ang mga banyaga sa ati magsalita ng sarili nating wika samantala, ang iba naman sa atin walang ginawa kundi mamuna ng English grammar ng iba. Haha!

  5. Ms. Vitug must have realized the academic freedom of the University of Santo Tomas, being the Oldest Western University in Asia, Pontifical and Royal University, The Catholic University of the Philippines, and is enjoying an “Autonomous” status given by the government through CHED.

    Having an autonomous status means that the university can break and even adjust its rules for any students exemplifying remarkable academic (or even national) prowess.

    What does the rappler.com, which has just launched last December 2011, say on one reputation of the University, being the oldest university in Asia? What is rappler? What is online journalism then? What is it to challenge UST?

  6. 1.Am i looking at Varsitarian’s online website? A resounding yes. Congratulations for being the pot calling the kettle black.

    2.Apparently, someone here has not yet understood how online exchange of information goes. Why did UST not reply when it CAN and SHOULD, instead immediately dismissing disseminated information as not worth answering when it can?

  7. Nation Building, National Transformation? Ano nga ba ang nagawa ng UST at Varsitarian para makatulong sa Pilipinas? Oldest university in Asia, Non-profit educational institution (pero mataas ang tuition), Pontifical blah blah: ang daming pangalan. Ang daming title. Pampaarte LANG. Relevance?

    Yes. 6 Chief Justices, including Corona came from UST. OK. Then what is Corona now?

    Bottomline: Whether Corona earned his Ph.D. degree in ‘regular’ basis, he will always be a CORRUPT Chief Justice, and a GRADUATE of UST. 🙂

    • e IKAW, ano ba nagawa mo para makatulong sa Pilipinas? Oo nga pala, mula elem. hanggang law niya nag-Ateneo si Corona bago siya napunta sa UST…


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