Remember Melania Flores, the professor of the University of the Philippines in Diliman and her arrest last month in connection with her criminal case in a Quezon City court?
Flores was arrested by Quezon City police operatives on the strength of a warrant issued by Judge Maria Gilda Loja-Pangilinan of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.
The criminal case against Flores was filed by her househelper for Flores’ alleged failure to remit employer’s contributions to the Social Security System account of the househelper.
Under the law, an employer’s failure to remit the required contributions is a criminal offense. That is one reason why many employers are hesitant to be part of the SSS.
At the time of Flores’ arrest, many noisy members of the UP Diliman community openly protested both her arrest and the police presence in the UP Diliman campus.
Almost everyone who protested were radical elements known for their stubborn opposition to any administration of the national government.
Police authorities have reason to believe these radical elements are either communists or red sympathizers.
These radical elements chanted the usual mantras against the government, the police in particular.
Their mantras range from the usual vague accusations of police abuse, to unfounded allegations that a witchhunt in UP against its faculty has been supposedly sponsored by ex-President Rodrigo Duterte during his time, and by incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
In addition, the radicals sweepingly claim the arrest of Flores was an affront to UP’s academic freedom.
The radicals likewise denounced the country’s justice system, and even unfairly insinuated the judge was a puppet of the establishment.
What was immediately noticeable was the angry mob’s statement to news reporters that the presence of the police inside the UP Diliman campus violated a 1992 accord between UP and the government.
That accord purportedly requires policemen to seek the prior approval of UP officialdom just to enforce a judicial warrant of arrest inside the campus.
Suspiciously, the radicals conveniently kept quiet about the fact that the said accord has been long terminated by the government because the UP campus should not be entitled to special treatment not afforded other public places.
They were also silent about the fact that Flores was able to post bail and was released just a few hours after she was arrested.
UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo, fresh from his recent defeat in his bid to become UP President, was at the forefront of the fanfare surrounding Flores’ arrest.
He expressed disapproval over the arrest, and, like many of those present, mouthed all sorts of excuses against the enforcement of the law inside the UP campus.
Nemenzo ought to know the criminal case against Flores is a private domestic concern of the professor and, therefore, the same has nothing to do with academic freedom.
For the same reason, ex-President Duterte and President Marcos Jr. have nothing to do with the said arrest.
From the way he publicly comported himself, Nemenzo insists UP is entitled to special treatment, and that UP professors are a protected class which need not obey the law.
Nemenzo is running for re-election as UP Diliman Chancellor.
The UP Board of Regents should not re-elect a sitting chancellor who wants UP to be exempted from complying with the law. Nemenzo’s policy sets a bad example to the gullible among the UP students.
Last March 19, the RTC dismissed the criminal case against Flores after the parties reached a de facto settlement.
When news of the dismissal was disseminated by the media, the UP radicals, as expected, praised the court’s decision.
Without even familiarizing themselves with the case record, the radicals hollered that Flores was a victim of trumped-up charges.
As usual, they also chanted mantras about academic freedom and the alleged harassment of activists by state forces.
Two groups in UP, namely, the All UP Academic Employees Union and the Congress of Teachers / Educators for Nationalism and Democracy were among those involved in making those baseless, sweeping generalizations.
Equally unsettling is the news report that a member of the UP Board of Regents also denounced the criminal case of Flores without a prior, thorough legal understanding of the entire situation. I certainly hope the same is just an isolated incident.
At any rate, university academics should undertake a thorough study of all the pertinent facts surrounding a controversy before they announce their conclusions to the public.
As in any situation, it is unwise to engage in hasty judgments and conclusions.
What the radicals in UP have succeeded in so far doing is to encourage the youth to resort to bullying and to engage in misleading, anti-establishment propaganda to influence the justice system in their favor.
That is a serious cause for alarm and concern for everyone.