(Remarks delivered by the Very Rev. Fr. Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P., Rector of the University of Santo Tomas, during the Faculty Convocation held at the Medicine Auditorium on October 19, 1972 at 2 p.m., published on The Varsitarian’s November 22, 1972 issue)

I shall speak very plainly and very frankly. 

The Government of the Philippines, through the President, has seen fit to place the country under martial law. The Government is the legitimate government of the nation, no one can quarrel with that. The President, by the powers vested in him by our Constitution, can proclaim martial law. No one can quarrel with that either. 

Under martial law, certain freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution have been suspended. Those include freedom of speech and of the press. Suspension of these freedoms means we can no longer criticize the Government. 

With that as background, let me now talk about how our University will be affected by the new dispensation and what is expected of all of us as faculty members of the University. 

First and foremost, we must remember that the University operates under Government license. As the licensing authority, the Government has the right to impose certain conditions. If these conditions are not fulfilled, the Government can revoke the license and close the University. 

As you know, the University has been authorized to resume operations at all levels. This authority, however, was given under certain conditions. Together with a number of memoranda emanating from my office consisting of interpretations and amplifications, these conditions will be explained to you by your respective Deans in the meeting which you will have with them immediately after this convocation. 

I shall confine myself at this point to a discussion of that condition which categorically states that the University will be responsible for security conditions within its premises. 

Permit me to quote from the Department Order No. 30 issued on October 13 by Education Secretary Juan L. Manuel:

“Colleges and universities authorized to resume classes are required to comply with the following guidelines: 

“a. School administration officials shall assume full responsibility for any acts of violence or any violations of existing laws, as well as Proclamation No. 1081 and other Orders, Decrees and Instructions issued as consequence thereof, committed within their jurisdiction, and shall take appropriate means to prevent subversive activities or acts of violence or violations of existing laws… Non compliance is a ground for the revocation of the permits and/or recognition of the school.” 

It is clear that these are awesome responsibilities imposed upon the School Head which make him fully responsible for their strict implementation, non-compliance of which renders the school liable to immediate closure and/or such punitive measures as the Government may determine against the head of the school, in our case, against the Rector of the University. 

It is also clear from the foregoing Department Order that the University’s responsibility does not end with the mere maintenance of order and discipline. Even more important, it also means the avoidance or prevention of such situations which may incite the students to mass action or to inflame them to a degree where they may violate the laws against the state, against persons or against property. 

To this end, I have ordered the strengthening of our Security Force with strict orders not to allow any unauthorized persons to enter our buildings. To simplify the procedure, all faculty members, students and employees will be provided with ID cards, and no person — myself included — will be permitted to enter the University building without showing this ID. 

I will admit that a measure like this will prove repugnant to some of us because it could be interpreted as an affront to our dignity as faculty members. This will be especially obnoxious to those among us who have been associated with the University for a long time, who have, indeed become recognized as “institutions” within the campus. I know this and I regret that we have to enforce the rule about IDs without any exceptions. As you very well know, the moment we allow any exceptions, the entire process will break down and our security problems will be magnified.

And so I appeal to you: please, let us all cooperate on this point. By our precept and example, let us show to everybody, the students especially, that we are willing to undergo minor inconveniences in the interest of adequate security. 

This measure, while it may prove sufficient in debarring unauthorized outsiders from our premises, will be sadly inadequate if our students, acting on their own violation or upon instigation by some angry faculty members, should decide to launch a collective but illegal protest action. 

Any such protest action, believe me, could be deemed sufficient cause for the closure of the University. Hence, every effort should be made to prevent any outbreak. And in this effort, I call on each and every one of you to cooperate. More than the Deans and Regents and all other University officials, you are in closest touch with the students. More than your Deans and your Regents, you can influence the students in good or ill. In a manner of speaking, you have your fingers on the students pulse. You can sense their thinking, you can gauge their feeling, and on you devolves the responsibility of aborting any possible outbreak which could lead to the closure of our school. 

Under the new dispensation therefore, your responsibility is no longer limited to teaching. It includes the maintenance of discipline, the kind of discipline that is required under martial law. If you neglect this responsibility, if you renege your duty or — worse — if you deliberately incite your students to rashness, you may be jeopardizing, not just the continued operation of the University, but the opportunity for thousands of students to acquire an education. Just as important, you may be depriving your colleagues and their families of their right to a decent livelihood and a decent life. 

Consider the awesome consequences if the University were to be ordered closed: no less than 33,342 students would be shut out from their classrooms, their education deferred, their careers imperiled. Some 626 employees would be rendered jobless. And 1,344 faculty members with 5,376 dependents would be thrown out of work, their talents wasted and their noble mission aborted. Surely, this is too high a price to pay for turning our backs on our responsibility as faculty members. 

I am a realist. As such, I realize that it is possible that there are those among us who have not accepted the reality of Martial Law or who still have some reservations about its motivations. It is to these people that I now address these words, and, again, I beg their pardon for speaking frankly and plainly. 

Look into yourselves, please. Search your hearts and examine your souls. Are you committed to an ideology which seeks to destroy institutions such as the University of Santo Tomas, an ideology which rejects the kind of education that it offers? Does this ideology of yours seek to overthrow a present government and substitute a godless one in its place? 

If you belong to this group, then I say to you most earnestly: leave the University now and do what you feel you must do. For if you stay here, if you disguise your true beliefs and then work undercover, you disseminate your ideas to your students, you would be making them subversives under the law. You would be exposing them to the terrible penalties of subversion under martial law. And you could become the cause for the permanent closure of the University. 

But if you are really a committed Maoist, you probably would not care what happens to the University. Even so, you would still be concerned about what happens to your colleagues whose sole source of income is what they earn in the University, and the students who were sent here by their parents to get an education. Whatever the extent of your commitment, I cannot believe that you would be indifferent to their welfare or uncaring about their future. 

Or, there may be a number among you who in the past, out of firm conviction, lent your support to the activist agitation for reform without actually joining cause with the Maoists. As such, you may have been very vocal in your criticism of the Government and in your opposition to its policies. As a consequence, you may have become tolerant of, or cooperative to breaches of discipline by the students in their opposition to the University and the Establishment. 

If any of you belong to this group, I tell you now: Present conditions prevent us from persisting in this attitude. For if we do, our University could be ordered closed. I appeal to you then: please desist from any which may be interpreted as an act of civil disobedience; and please cooperate positively in insuring the compliance of the students with the conditions which have been set as a prerequisite for the renewed operation of the University. 

If you believe you cannot do this, if your convictions and conscience stop you from cooperating, please, I beg of you: resign your position. Do not jeopardize the livelihood of your colleagues or the education of your students. 

My dear faculty members: if my plain talk has offended some of you, I am sincerely sorry. If I have dispensed with fancy rhetoric and called a spade a spade, it is because of my overriding concern to see the University continue to discharge its mission of giving a relevant Catholic education to the youth of our country. For 361 years, it has striven to fulfill that mission and it should not—it must not—stop now. For 361 years, it has weathered crises much worse than the present one. It survived earthquakes and revolutions, bombings, and enemy occupation. With your help and cooperation, it will emerge from the current challenge stronger than ever, and infused with a new spirit of dedication worthy of its proudest traditions. 


Compliance with rules under new society urged


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