JURISDICTION over Asia’s oldest and only Pontifical university will finally be turned over to the Filipino Dominican province from the Rome-based Master of the Order Preachers this year, but top officials are quick to dispel any notion that UST will be completely “Filipinized.”

Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, O.P., prior provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines (DPP), said in an interview that the transfer of jurisdiction of UST to Filipinos is not about Filipinization, Hispanization or Romanization, which, he said, are concepts from a post-colonialist struggle that already belongs to the past.

“We are more conscious now of the ‘Catholicity’ or universality of the mission of the Church and of the Order that cannot be circumscribed by any single nationality alone,” said Timoner, who is also UST vice chancellor by virtue of his post as prior provincial.

Timoner added that the transfer of jurisdiction mandated by the General Chapter of the Dominican Order in Rome in 2010 means entrusting the mission in UST of the centuries-old order founded by St. Dominican de Guzman to the DPP.

“It means that the Provincial of the DPP is entrusted with the responsibility of assigning Filipino and non-Filipino brothers to the Priory of St. Thomas, the Dominican community charged with administering UST,” he said.

General Chapter of 2010

In 2010, the General Chapter of the Order of Preachers in Rome tasked the Master of the Order, Fr. Bruno Cadore, O.P., to appoint a commission for the turnover of UST to the Filipino Dominicans this year. The General Chapter, the supreme authority of the Order, gathers leaders of Dominican provinces worldwide every three years.

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The turnover seeks to achieve subsidiarity in governance for the University, Timoner said. “The principle [of subsidiarity] holds that, as far as possible, important decisions must be made at the local level,” he said in a previous interview, adding that this is an act of obedience to the will of the Master of Order who sees to it that the acts of the chapter are faithfully carried out.

Ahead of the 2013 deadline, Cadore sat with the UST Commission last Dec. 11 to discuss the turnover.

“The body also approved amendments entailed by the entrustment of UST to the jurisdiction of the DPP,” said Timoner, opting not to discuss the amendments until the Rome-based Congregation for Catholic Education officially approves the revised statutes of UST.

Changes

UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. said there would be changes following the turnover. “The University will become an official apostolate of the Dominican Province of the Philippines,” he told the Varsitarian.

Central Seminary Rector Fr. Quirico Pedregosa, Jr., O.P. echoed Dagohoy, saying the transfer would mean greater responsibility for the DPP.

Pedregosa, formerly prior provincial of the Filipino province, said local friars have called on the rector to submit a report to the Holy See, the Master of the Order, and the prior provincial following the transfer.

In a general assembly of local schools under the Dominican Order last Dec. 5, former UST rector Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P. also confirmed that UST would become part of the DPP. “UST will have a very active role to help us in our collaborative activities and programs,” Lana said.

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With the transfer of jurisdiction, the Master of the Order of Preachers who is ex-officio Grand Chancellor of UST will transfer his power to appoint University administrators to the prior provincial of the Dominican Order in the country, who is ex-officio vice chancellor of UST.

The prior provincial will also have budget supervision, Pedregosa said.

However, the vice chancellor’s decisions will still require approval from the Master of the Order.

“The Provincial in his Council has to approve unbudgeted expenses of the University whenever the amount would require incurring a debt or a loan and the amount is beyond the competence of the Board of Trustees,” Pedregosa said.

No more Spaniards?

Meanwhile, Department of History chair Augusto de Viana fears the turnover would lead to the departure of the Spanish friars.

Spanish Fr. Joaquin Valdes, O.P., regent of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, believes “Filipinization” won’t be completed this year. “I think there is a certain process that still needs to be taken over by another General Chapter,” Valdes said.

Pedregosa, however, said the turnover would not mean an all-Filipino set of UST officials. “It’s not a question of Filipinization, and they (Spanish friars) may continue to assume their roles,” he said, noting that Spanish friars voluntarily relinquished their administrative positions as early as the 1990’s.

Filipinization wave of the ‘70s

In the 1995 General Chapter in Caleruega, Spain, the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas was transferred from the Holy Rosary Province to the Dominican Province of the Philippines, the first step toward the eventual transfer of jurisdiction over UST to the Filipino Dominicans.

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It insisted that the transfer occur under a “climate of mutual understanding and of fraternal search for consensus.”

In the book, Beginnings of the Filipino Dominicans, former rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. said the Filipinization movement of the Dominican Order began in 1951. In the 1970s, students staged demonstrations and demanded the Filipinization of the UST administration, which was almost completely under the Spanish control.

De la Rosa added that Filipino Dominicans in UST fought for the Filipinization not only of the University but also of the entire province. It was eventually fulfilled when the Dominican Province of the Philippines was established on Dec. 8, 1971.

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