Several days ago, a small but noisy group of trouble-making Left-leaning students and faculty members of the University of the Philippines in Diliman heckled Irene Marcos-Araneta, the youngest daughter of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, while she was in the campus attending a cultural activity organized by members of the UP community who invited her over.
When the verbal attacks against Marcos-Araneta escalated to threats of actual physical harm, her assistants and several UP security personnel took her away to safety.
It was bad enough that the incident happened. What was completely unsettling was the regret expressed by the Left-leaning students and faculty members that Marcos-Araneta “escaped unharmed.” They even scored the UP security personnel for protecting Marcos-Araneta.
One Left-leaning professor whose attempt to join the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte was effectively blocked by the Commission on Appointments supported the anti-Marcos incident.
“Is that what they are teaching in UP now?” was the question asked by many UP students and their parents. Freedom, they said, does not include the liberty to threaten other people with bodily harm.
Surprisingly, the Left-leaning UP Diliman student council issued a resolution banning members of the Marcos family from entering the UP campus.
So far, the office of UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan has not revealed UP’s position on the Marcos-Araneta incident and the ban against any Marcos presence in UP.
Under the Revised Penal Code, government employees, a term that includes UP officials and professors, who directly or indirectly disrupt a peaceful activity like the one attended by Marcos-Araneta, can be held criminally liable.
Just like everybody else, a member of the Marcos family has the right to participate in a lawful, peaceful activity in the UP campus. To disallow such right is a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Under the Civil Code, government employees who violate a person’s right to the equal protection of the laws is liable for civil damages.
In addition to the foregoing criminal and civil liabilities, administrative raps may also be filed against the erring government employees before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Going back to the Marcos-Araneta incident, many observers were aghast at how the anti-Marcos elements in UP comported themselves in public, and in a public place at that. They noted that while the Left-leaning students and faculty members readily condemn the way the Marcos family have been comporting themselves in public, the same students and faculty members are themselves engaged in deplorable behavior, no different from the bad ways they attribute to the Marcoses.
Ironically, while the campus radicals summarily accuse the Marcoses and, by extension, President Rodrigo Duterte of being fascists, the radicals are behaving like fascists themselves.
Other observers maintain that the troublemakers in UP have conveniently overlooked certain undeniable facts that highlight their unjustifiable conduct.
First, UP is a public university and a haven for contrasting ideas and ideologies. Communists and their Left-leaning students-allies do not own UP and its campuses. Its democratic space is open to all, members of the Marcos family included.
Second, the sovereign Filipino people pay for the operations and upkeep of UP. Being so, the will of the sovereign Filipino people should be respected by everyone who benefits from UP, including its radical students and faculty members.
More importantly, the same sovereign Filipino people who pay for UP’s expenses have elected, and continue to elect to national office members of the Marcos family, even after the anti-Marcos 1986 EDSA Revolution.
Add to that the reality that in the recent May 2019 senatorial elections, the sovereign Filipino voters elected Imee Marcos and rejected reelectionist Bam Aquino and his fellow anti-Marcos allies in the Otso Diretso ticket supported by the anti-Marcos Liberal Party.
From a constitutional perspective, therefore, the will of the sovereign Filipino people, in whom all government authority emanates, is clear. The anti-Marcos sentiment desperately being peddled and nurtured by the noisy, radical students and faculty members in UP today is nothing more than plain and simple anachronism.
In other words, the ghost of the Marcos dictatorship no longer stalks the national stage, and it’s about time the UP community realizes this.