UST ups the RH Bill ‘debate’ ante: Will Catholic university professors remain in the game?

Grand old University of Santo Tomas (UST), the Philippines’ most ancient institution of higher learning has come out and made a clear and absolute statement on its position on the Reproductive Health Bill through its school paper, the Varsitarian, and it is one that is expected of a Catholic learning institution. In RH bill, Ateneo, and La Salle: Of lemons and cowards, the Editor issues the following admonition:

UST is a Catholic institution. It is a pontifical institution—the second to be so named in world history. Nobody should question whether the University supports the Church’s stand as the Gospel of Christ is UST’s—and any Catholic institution’s—pillar and foundation.

Professors who are affiliated with UST must respect the stand of the University against the RH bill as they are part of an institution which is fundamentally bound with Catholic faith and teachings. If UST professors don’t agree with the stand of the CBCP, then they have a problem. The bishops are the successors of the Christ’s apostles and possess the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church.

Sure. Some online “activists” in their renowned strokes of brilliant originality can dismiss such words as a “depredation on the English language, punctuated by the interloping of dogma and logic.” Whatever. Any bozo can tell you that any attempt to reconcile Catholic dogma with modern peer-reviewed critical thought yields convoluted drivel at best. So, to be fair to some emos out there, the half-arsed attempt of the Varsitarian editor to articulate a consistent underpinning argument for the UST’s position…

It’s quite shocking that Ateneo and La Salle professors should harbor naive and misguided thinking about health and social problems. How could they argue that an RH measure would be needed to lower maternal mortality when the Philippine government not too long ago had told the United Nations that it was on track to meet the Unesco millennium development goals by 2015, one of which was the lowering of maternal deaths? How could they argue that alleged high mortality must be checked by an RH measure when pregnancy complications are not in the Top 10 causes of women’s deaths? How could they argue that contraceptives which allegedly worth billions of pesos must be given to women to avert pregnancy risks when contraceptives have been known to cause cardiac problems, which are the No. 1 cause of death of Filipino women?

How could Ateneo and La Salle professors dismiss the medically established dangerous side effects of contraceptives when they are not even physicians?

In contrast, UST, which has the oldest and the foremost school of medicine in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, has always warned about the dangerous side effects of contraceptives. UST and her physicians surely know whereof they speak. They’re scientists and experts, unlike the Ateneo and La Salle professors who are intellectual pretenders and interlopers!

…falls flat on its face at best, considering that the above all but constitutes a mere wink-wink to invoke the token respect paid to the “academic freedom” that most Catholic insitutions allow its employees.

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Quite simply, the real point the UST makes is in this statement here:

It is quite gratifying that UST has cracked the whip and reminded its faculty members that they’re members of a Catholic institution and should toe the line.


As these professors have chosen to teach in a Catholic university, they must abide by its teachings and beliefs. In the first place, the same is demanded of students.

It’s simple, really.

To be truly free, and to be able to freely and unreservedly express said freedom, you need to first put yourself in a position of not owing anybody anything — not your sources of livelihood, not your sponsors, not the pals you make hobnobbing in blogging contests and social media “conventions”, not the cronies who link back to your blogs and routinely “share” your work on their timelines, and for the most truly courageous amongst us, not the Angel of Death and not the imagined “graces” of a deity.

Indeed, the “heroes” we have become so addicted to celebrating — Jose Rizal and the popular presidential dad — all, as legend goes, submitted their lives at the altar of the ideas they stood for.

For the professors of the UST and other Catholic institutions such as “the” Ateneo de Manila University and, sniff, De La Salle University, their self-imposed aspiration to take a stand for the ideas they are passionate about exacts a far far smaller price: their continued employment.

Anybody can wear a shirt and pump their fists in the air while singing about coming “down from the hill” during a basketball game (not referring, of course, to UST alumni in that instance). But only the truly courageous ones can take their shirts off and continue marching into battle.

[Photo courtesy The Varsitarian.]

14 Replies to “UST ups the RH Bill ‘debate’ ante: Will Catholic university professors remain in the game?”

  1. I’m a Thomasian, alright, and while I’m anti-RH Bill as well, I do not uphold the same bigot arguments these Katoliban people have. Aw c’mon, just because I study here means I have to automatically conform to their opinions? Wow, just look at the damage “Filipino collectivism” has done……

  2. I guess the only way to weaken these Katoliban institutions is to take in more foreign schools who uphold more rational ideas and promote more critical thinking than these bigot schools! But yeah, 60/40 is on the way so………..

  3. The insularity promoted by philippine universities goes a long way to explain the low performance culture, lack of innovation, and individual thought which is prevalent in the country at large, and which in turn acts as a barrier to progress and change.

    An ‘open’ society which is essential in a global environment needs to thrive on external economic competition and learn from external ideas rather than exhibit fear, and to move away from island mentality, protectionism, and group brainwashing, and the endless govt propaganda.

    Visiting professors/guest lecturers could be used effectively, but fear of inadequacy would seem to block opportunities for students to gain a wider perspective from other countries.

  4. Our barangay health center hands out contraceptive pills for free to anyone interested. I can buy rubbers anytime, anywhere – so I cannot understand the fuss over the passage or non-passage of the RH Bill. Ah, must be the moolah, all 3 billion of it, that’s driving the Congress guys crazy. Ironic and tragic that the Church and State are engaged in a tug-of-war when the people have de facto made their choice known by lining up to get their daily dose of the pill. Clueless or just plain stupid? Take your pick.

  5. It is a very conflicting issue…control population, to prevent starvation . Or Let us all multiply with Rabbits…then we will have food riots…

  6. The professors adapt to the teachings of the schools policies or they hit the road,no big deal there.
    the fact that people need to be told,and tax-payers have to foot the bill, for this RH law is mind-boggling.WEAR A CONDOM IF YOU CAN NOT AFFORD TO FEED THE CHILD YOU DO NOT WANT,DUH?
    Look at all the pregnant children and it is clear they need to start using a condom.

  7. since time immemorial, the fidelity of ust to the church is unquestionable. i think there’s no need for ust to further assert its stand on the controversial rh bill given the fact that it is a pontifical u. i just dont get why we continue to get wild reactions from the opposing camp. ust yan eh, ano pa nga ba ang magiging stand nyan?

    the varsitarian was just responding to the call of Pope Benedict XVI on matters of catholic education.

    “teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church’s Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution’s life, both inside and outside the classroom. Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic identity and, far from advancing freedom, inevitably leads to confusion, whether moral, intellectual or spiritual.” – Pope Benedict XVI

  8. This is nothing more than making hay out of nothing — if this stance were made against something less controversial or divisive, this wouldn’t be something people would care about; god forbid, they might even agree with it. For instance, if any institution comes out against pedophilia and exhorts its employees to not rape little kids, are non-pedophiles going to go out of their way to denounce such enforced conformity? I think not.

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