In the midst of controversies and accusations, chancellor nominees Azanza and Camacho speak out to clarify “malicious social media posts” and “false stories” targeting their candidacy.
Following accusations of nepotism regarding his position in the Commission of Higher Education (CHED), Dr. Jose Camacho clarified in a September 18 Facebook post that appointees to the position did not apply for inclusion but were instead appointed based on their skills.
“This is in response to malicious social media posts that have been circulating regarding activities in which I am involved,” Camacho said.
The Graduate School (GS) dean discussed that his “expertise and experience” were key to his appointment as the chair of the agency’s Technical Working Groups (TWGs) on Graduate Education
“My appointment as Chair of the CHED TWG on Graduation Education specifically acknowledges my expertise and experience in the graduate education delivery as Dean of the UPLB Graduate School, just as other UPLB faculty members and other experts from a number of public and private higher education institutions have been appointed to other CHED TWGs in other disciplines,” Camacho said.
Moreover, Camacho added that the rumors of familial relationship with CHED Chairman De Vera, specifically them being cousins, were completely false. He deemed this to be nothing more than a workplace joke and an absolute coincidence.
“I grew up in Bayambang, Pangasinan, from where my father’s family hails, and earned my high school diploma at Sual Barangay High School. Chairman De Vera comes from Tayug, Pangasinan and may have previously referred to relatives in Bayambang, the reference to which does not include members of my family,” said Camacho.
Dr. Patrick Azanza, also a chancellor candidate, aired his support in the post’s comment section, denouncing the alleged smear campaign against Camacho.
“I have known CHED Chairman Popoy for more than 2 decades and I know he is a man of integrity. I also believe that a co-candidate like Dong who is a personal friend does not deserve this kind of black propaganda,” Azanza said.
Azanza added that due to his recent experiences with “false stories” in the past month, he would not want similar things happening to his co-candidates.
“I would rather that we keep things above board and discuss issues rather than resort to mudslinging, or worse use falsehoods to advance an agenda,” he said.
“A wolf in sheep’s clothes”
Hours before Camacho released his statement, the Perspective received an email from a user named “Andres Almario”. The email contained a photo of a letter addressed to agriculture secretary William Dar, written by Sen. Imee Marcos, endorsing Camacho to be the next UPLB chancellor.
“Dr. Camacho’s stewardship as [d]ean of UPLB Graduate School transformed its graduate programs to be more inclusive, relevant, and accessible. With his qualification, leadership, and vision, I am certain that Dr. Camacho’s appointment as UPLB Chancellor will make positive contributions to the institution towards maintaining and furthering its goal as home of academic excellence,” Marcos wrote.
“Almario” saw this as a reason to question Camacho’s legitimacy as an activist, and branded him as a “wolf” with “Imeldific tears in the corner of his eyes.”
“Isn’t it ironic that one who claims with pride to be an activist in the 80’s is now asking to be endorsed by no less than a Marcos heir? It appears that the student activist has become the opportunist who conveniently sheds his principles in order to get his seat at the top,” he said.
He further questioned Camacho’s capability to uphold his vision of a future-proofed university, given the accusations.
“How can he be independent and lead UPLB to the future if he will be beholden to his patrons? How can he claim to be the alternative, when h[e] makes himself the minion of the powers that be? How can he be progressive when he chooses to be a trapo?,” the user said.
A day after the documents were given, a Twitter user called ‘dipthroat’ shared pictures of a document from the Office of the Secretary (OS) dated September 2 showing Dar endorsing Camacho to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. In it, he called attention to UP Chairperson Dr. Prospero and praised Camacho for his administrative record.
The Perspective immediately inquired Camacho regarding this matter, where he explained that he had no control on who endorses him for chancellorship.
“I was also surprised when Senator Imee endorsed me to Secretary Dar. Of course, the Secretary is well placed in terms of knowing how UPLB will be a great partner with the Department of Agriculture. Maybe that’s the reason why she sought the support of Secretary Dar,” Camacho explained.
He added that he was pleasantly surprised by how hard the alumni were campaigning for him, noting that he had no control over them as they worked on their own initiative.
“I heard of endorsements to Senators such as Tito Sotto and Alan Cayetano. In other words, people of different political spectrums. I have no hold over their political biases, I was just surprised,” said Camacho.
On why the alumni were working so hard in his campaign, Camacho believed that they simply wanted to help the university in any way they can.
“When they become alumni and graduate, they want to give back in terms of goodwill in any way they can and any political spectrum they may come from. They want to fix UPLB. That’s the way I look at it.”
Camacho speculated that the critics may have been trying to link his endorsement to the Marcoses, which he said might be linked to the Martial Law anniversary on September 21.
On a related note, Camacho addressed another allegation, relating to him allegedly not filing his individual Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN), which he claimed to have done “two or three years go.” He noted that he and his wife held a joint SALN sometime 2019.
University Student Council (USC) Vice Chairperson Angelo Aurigue said that most of Camacho’s supporters are relying on his pro-student policies and his good administrative track record.
“But if Dean Camacho wins the race but later on proves himself to be an apologist of a dictator guilty of corruption and mass murder, then it will be this very institution that will lead the action to remove him in his position,” Aurigue said.
Aurigue added that the student movement will “always be vigilant” regardless of who the chancellor is.
Don’t feed the trolls
Last August 9, the Perspective released a story regarding an supposed paid troll endorsing chancellor candidate Azanza that has been promoting him in Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS) and Marcos loyalist Facebook pages.
As questions piled-up, Azanza commented on the publication’s Facebook post, requesting to have his side be heard.
“I have been called names which are not true to my person and character. Yes, I got used to being red-tagged since my student days and I took them as a badge of honor. But to be falsely accused of being a “Marcos apologist” makes my stomach crumble[,] wanting myself to throw up as it is something one who fought hardly the Marcos Dictatorship would not expect to be called,” Azanza said.
After the Perspective forwarded him questions, Azanza released an open letter addressing numerous allegations raised against him, even from parties outside of UPLB.
“I [also] take offense on those who accuse me of having a troll farm as I have documents to prove that another camp is the one trolling my supporters,” said Azanza, “No, I do not have a troll farm. I urge UPLB Constituents to please open your eyes.”
Azanza claimed that due to the nature of UPLB being a public university, anyone who pays taxes should have the right to express their views on how the university should be run.
“Let us discard the myopic lens of ‘exclusivity’ and its parochial focus that prevents UPLB from becoming a great Global Research University. Instead let us adapt an “inclusive” mindset that listens to the views of the “broader UPLB community” because the best ideas are not a monopoly of one group,” Azanza said.
Azanza denied the accusations of his relation to a certain Videas Corona, a DDS, who called for support to him.
“I can assure the UPLB Community that I do not know Vides Corona and I have no ties and never dealt with his/her organization,” said Azanza, adding that if IT experts in UPLB cared to analyze and check, they would find that he was innocent.
Concerning his alleged labor issues in Cosmotec, Azanza said that his track record as a pro-labor businessman was “clean”.
“What happened in Cosmotec was an intra-corporate battle among stockholders in one out of three Cosmotec companies, when our American clients suddenly pulled out their accounts from the Philippines particularly from the Pasig City Branch, due to various economic and security concerns,” Azanza said.
He explained that shareholders disagreed with him on prioritizing the payment of the employee’s salaries, and to instead release the allowances to the Board of Directors first.
“Not getting what they wanted from me, they threatened me that they will file labor disputes at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) by claiming they were employees. They also warned that they will destroy my name if I will not give in to their demands,” Azanza said.
In the case in the Supreme Court involving AMA and Roland Austria’s “Dean for Life”, Azanza insisted that he had limited participation in the case despite being a respondent of Austria.
“Now, why is this case being brought up again and again in the black propaganda against me?” Azanza asked, “It is because my name appears in the case and it is a click-bait for those who are easy to be swayed. What my detractors are not revealing is that Roland Austria lost his weird demand to become ‘Dean for Life’!”
Additionally, Azanza denied any ties with the police or military, noting that he cannot control who expresses support for him, while adding that he was the only progressive candidate among the three.
“But what I wish to highlight is the fact that, among the three candidates for the chancellor, I am the only one who truly served the progressive movement,” added Azanza.
Azanza admitted that he was a member of the Masons, however he questioned the portrayal of him as an “outsider”.
“Ganun po ba yun? Kasi hindi ko raw alam ang mga problema ng UPLB dahil ‘outsider’ daw ako. Mali po. Alam ko po ang mga problema ng UPLB at lalong hindi ako ‘outsider’ dahil aktibo akong kaugnay ng UPLB saksi nito ang aking mga kinabibilangang organisasyon at komunidad na pinaglilingkuran,” Azanza said.
Azanza then hoped that there would be more focus on the chancellorship race instead of the controversies.
“I hope and pray that in the next coming days the focus of the Chancellorship Search Process shall be on how we can all make UPLB a truly great and world[-]class University providing relevant service and impact on the Filipino people. Let us work together and plant the endowment seeds of a resilient, nationalist and progressive UPLB,” Azanza concluded. [P]
Photo from My Pope – Philippines