An Open Letter To The UPLB Office Of Student Affairs

June 10, 2013

From: Filipino Freethinkers-UPLB et al

To: Dr Leticia A. Afuang, Office of Student Affairs Director, UPLB

CC: Dr Rex Victor O. Cruz, Chancellor, UPLB

Good day,

It has come to our attention that your good office has once again distributed (or at least, caused to distribute) free bibles at the recent campus tour for UPLB freshmen. As far as we are aware, this has become a tradition for you, Dr Afuang, since you took charge as free bibles were given out too during last year’s freshman convocation. This was on top of blatantly preaching Christianity during this year and last’s leadership training seminar, which is required for all student organizations seeking university recognition to attend, among other breaches of secularism that have been reported to us.

This is completely unacceptable. Unless you still are not aware, the University of the Philippines is a secular institution. And this fact is explicitly defined in Sec 3 and Articles 177 and 452 of the UP Code, which we are sure you are well aware of.

For surety, we have included excerpts here:

  1. Sec 3. Purpose of the University.As the national university, a public and secular institution of higher learning , and a community of scholars dedicated to the search for truth and knowledge as well as development leaders, the University of the Philippines shall perform its unique and distinctive leadership in higher education and development.

  2. Art 177. Members of the teaching staff enjoy academic freedom; Provided, however, That no instructor in the University System shall inculcate sectarian tenets in any of the teachings, nor attempt either directly or indirectly, under the penalty of dismissal by the Board of Regents, to influence students or attendants at the University System for or against any particular church or religious sect or political party.

  3. Art 452. Any priest, preacher, or minister of the gospel of any religious denomination may speak before student groups or organizations of the University; Provided, That in every case the written permission of the President/Chancellor shall have been previously secured; and Provided, further, That speakers do not discuss questions which might provoke dissension in the University.

While you may argue that the bibles were donations or that receiving them was voluntary anyway, these are but poor excuses. Secularism means fair treatment and privilege to all religions, or to none at all. It’s either you give out free scriptures of all religions or you don’t give any. If this isn’t clear enough, let us stress that there is simply no place for religious instruction and proselytizing within the university, academic freedom notwithstanding.

The university should be a place for students to explore and criticize new ideas and long-held beliefs. It is no place for certain churches to exploit this opportunity to increase membership in the pretense of saving souls or “making disciples.” Let us let students find their own way to faith or disbelief. This is what academic freedom means.

In light of this, we petition the following:

  1. That Dr. Afuang issue a public apology for all accounts of breaches in secularism and violations of the UP Code;
  2. That the UPLB administration conduct an investigation regarding the events cited and take disciplinary measures if found necessary;
  3. That the Chancellor issue a memorandum reminding all staff and faculty of these portions of the UP Code, and prohibiting any university-sanctioned event and academic class to include religious elements that may, directly or indirectly, be meant to proselytize or otherwise influence students’ religious views.


Rafael Navarro


Filipino Freethinkers-UPLB


Ma. Patricia San Jose

Vice President

Filipino Freethinkers-UPLB

[Attached signatures of petitioners]


Yesterday’s events were not the only breaches of secularism that have occured inside the university, and by the looks of it will most probably not be the last. There are many more incidents involving many more UPLB instructors. Let us make this petition a reminder that state universities are best kept secular. Surely, UPLB has got more ways to acquaint its freshmen than lambasting that it endorses particular churches, right?

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Note: A similar incident also happened last year under the auspices of Dr Afuang. Several students have testified to us that it is usual for Dr. Afuang to preach Christianity in her classes, no matter how unrelated it is to the subject matter. A followup article is scheduled to be posted documenting these first-hand accounts.

Update: A pastor from Victory Christian Fellowship UPLB has spoken on the matter in defense of Dr. Afuang, the Office of Student Affairs and the Bible-giving brouhaha.

Editors note: two images concerning Victory Christian Fellowship have been removed from this article since publishing. Those two photos are not relevant to the secularism violation of the Office of Student Affairs (in UPLB).


  1. some people are too comfortable being the majority, they forget how to put themselves in other people's shoes. evangelizing the minority? spreading God's words to those "lost sheep"?

    you dare call that freedom of religion? though minorities were always silent in front of such vulgar display of power of majority, it doesn't render their approval of it, nor they can do anything to ease their inconvenience. obviously at odds of offending majority of classmates, professors, and school officials, minorities know better not to open their mouths or throw what these people treasure. this is respect they don't get back.

    shame on the lack of sensitivity.

    (my first comment with the same thought was modded so this is a repost/rephrased a bit. maybe because of the word "fu*ked up" being full)

  2. some people are too comfortable being the majority, they forget how to put themselves in other people's shoes. evangelizing the minority? spreading God's words to those "lost sheep"?

    you dare call that freedom of religion? that's an attempt of MONOPOLY right on a state ground! some here argues, "what's wrong with that?" well, what's wrong with a public place turned inconvenient by the foul smell of bias?

    silence from the minorities doesn't mean they've always approved such vulgar displays. they just know better not to offend the majority of students, the majority of professors, the majority of school officials. You are so used and comfortable of your status being the majority. Shame for that insensitivity. Fucked up virtue.

  3. question… does the giving of bible (or quran, or other religious leaflets) are 'evil in nature' itself?

    if yes, then I rest my case.

    if no, then we ask the next question…

    which shall prevail… UP Code or the Constitution?

    if it is the UP Code, then kick those people already and exercise your authority (para magka-alaman na)

    if it is the Constitution, then congratulations. you know the essence of 'freedom of religion' and you know the next thing to do– 'communicate'.

    note: personally, giving bible/quran and preaching christianity or catholism or islam is a different thing. if you will FORCE someone to accept your material, it is a blatant violation already. however, if it is just giving away something for free, why are you guys so sensitive about it?

    also, if you will force someone to listen to your doctrines, there is a clear violation as well since freedom to associate involves freedom NOT to associate as well. if this is the argument of filipinofreethinkers, then you have my support.

    good day.

    • How about: you're a vegetarian in a school whose charter prohibits the distribution of meat by the school, then an administrator starts handing out hamburgers to students.

    • You're likening religion to FOOD, which is a BASIC NECESSITY for LIFE. That is a false equivalence. You do not need religion to live. Sometimes, it even poisons people.

  4. Interesting case. Secular does not mean non-religious. It means favoring no religion or non-religion. Should Muslim head coverings be banned as religious statement? I think not. Nor should students be restricted from preaching their beliefs. I'd like to get the Catholic Church out of my mall on Sundays so I can get down to Jerry's Grill for early lunch without cutting through the people praying. But it is the mall's right to inconvenience its customers.

    Now as for a school official handing out bibles or preaching in class, that is ethically incorrect for an instructor of higher learning should be able to discern intellectual matters from political/religious matters and keep the latter out of his professional workplace. It would be just as wrong for a school official to hand out posters of his favorite senatorial candidate. Offending school officials should be fired for either ethical violations or incompetence.

  5. Why are you atheists so afraid of the Bible?! If you truly don’t believe in God, then just leave us all alone to evangelize. Evangelism is one of the major tenets of Christianity. To deny Christians the opportunity to evangelize and share the Faith is a violation of our right to freedom of religion. The right to freedom of religion (not from religion) guarantees us that right, provided that no public or taxpayers money was spent in the production and distribution of the Bibles.

    Moreover, the Supreme Court held that the separation of church and state does not mean a wall of hostility but of a recognition of its respective spheres. In fact, the State itself recognizes the role of the Church in nation-building through the inculcation of sound moral values to its citizens thereby alleviating the inherent evils of man and society in general.

    Nobody is forcing anyone to believe in God. A university is a place where ideas can be shared and advocated. We can debate it all we want but for you to prevent the free flow of ideas, such as Christianity, is counter-productive to education. Nobody prevented anyone from distributing Qur’ans or other supposedly sacred books anyway. It’s just that Christians are more likely to share their Faith than others due to the Great Commission of Jesus to His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations”.

    • So by your logic, if I believe that it is part of my faith to–say–kill Jews, does my religious freedom permit me then to kill Jews?

    • You seem to have glossed over this tiny little detail where the government institution (OSA) was doing the evangelizing. Nobody is denying Christians the opportunity to evangelize. They're perfectly free to do so. The government cannot evangelize; it isn't even Christian. The government works for all Filipinos, not just for your club.

    • While it is true that you are free to talk about your faith, you are NOT free to do it while wasting government money. Taxpayer's money. MY money.

      Whether or not those bibles were donated is besides the point – the fact that they are being distributed by students who represent the school sends a clear message that the school is favoring that particular religion over others.

    • [ In fact, the State itself recognizes the role of the Church in nation-building through the inculcation of sound moral values to its citizens thereby alleviating the inherent evils of man and society in general.]

      Another fact:

      Fr. Joaquin Bernas, one of the authors of the constitution, was also against religion imposing on Philippine Law.

      And if the church is so vital in nation building, can you explain why their much-vaunted Catholic Vote movement blew up in their face, with virtually all of their senatoriables finishing dead last?

      Or how about the fact that the government pissed 50 million of taxpayer money away on an NFP program, gave it to CFC, only to see that program fail?

    • Playing the persecution card already? You know, for people who profess steadfast faith, you guys are strangely onion skinned. You seem to always act with the arrogance that comes with believing in the same thing the majority does (mobocracy) and yet when the minority objects to you shoving your beliefs where they don't belong you play the Monty Python peasant scthick. "Help help I'm being oppressed!".

      Your double standard is showing. Then again, you never were ashamed of that in the first place.

  6. With the looks of it, parang kayo yung nag-iimpose na wag paniwalaan ang sinasabi naming mga Kristiyano. May karapatan naman tayong magsalita o sabihin kung ano ang paniniwala natin. Nasa sa tao na iyon kung paniniwalaan nya. God loves you and blesses you. 🙂

  7. Well.. Students are given the free-will, still. The OSA just gave out Bibles. Nobody forced them to convert or anything. What was done was that they were merely introduced and nothing more. However the students want to deal with is still the sole choice of the students. I do not see why there is such a commotion? Has it been proven that the money spent to buy the Bibles that were distributed came from University budget / us taxpayers’ money?

    I agree that the student “preachers” can be quite invasive and irritatingly so. But no one is forcing anyone anything. They are merely enthusiastic. Don’t make such a petty and big fuss over it as this makes you just as annoying for trying to be self-righteous.

    • The "preachers" shouldn't have been there in the first place. It is not OSA's responsibility to introduce any religion.

    • "wag kayo magpamigay nyan dito, baka sabihin ng ibang sect o religion, Catholic School na ang UP. Na lahat ng mga professor dito eh willing magpreach sa klase ng pagka katoliko o kahit anu pang personal na paniniwala."

      Ganun lang kasimple.

  8. "Secularism means fair treatment and privilege to all religions, or to none at all. It’s either you give out free scriptures of all religions or you don’t give any. If this isn’t clear enough, let us stress that there is simply no place for religious instruction and proselytizing within the university, academic freedom notwithstanding."

    This statement is a contradiction and for that it isn't clear enough. A secular university is obliged to give a space for religious instruction because the Constitution protects freedom of worship. What the secular university can't do is to shell out public money for these spaces. The UP has provided worship space to religious groups but doesn't pay for the maintenance of these spaces. Even the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in Diliman which is a national cultural treasure does not receive a centavo from government or UP. The Roman Catholic parish is saddled by the responsibility of protecting this heritage.

    UPLB OSA may be criticised for not being sensible enough. But what UP has to develop is a Free Speech Zone in which bibles, qurans and other religious lit including atheist religious lit can be distributed without censure.

    • given that a particular religion has the means to fund events, giveaways, preach and so on; you mean a secular university has no choice but to cater that? provided they are using their own money? sounds so delicious for the major sects eh. unmoved by that kind of interpretation of the law. what determines that space? how is that fair for others who have no means of grandeur to recruit members?

      if there's anything the secular part of the law protects, it is the equality of everyone's right to subscribe and express their belief. how can giving a freehand to major sects be protecting that right?

      and of course, the article 177 of the UP code above states it clear.

  9. Pati na rin 'yung Christmas tree na mas matagal 'yung prosesong paggawa kompara sa haba ng nakatindig ito sa unibersidad. LOL

    • O kaya wag kayong mamigay nyan wala kayong karapatan! Hindi saklaw ang religion niyo sa kalayaang pang relihiyon.

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