September 11, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 206 views

A House leader urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to scrap the partnership agreements recently signed between several Philippine and Chinese universities.

Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, said the CHED, particularly Chairman Prospero de Vera, should cancel those partnerships because the government is protesting against continuous Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea

He said by initiating the engagements, De Vera and the CHED “are sending the wrong signal that we, as a country and people, are not united in showing our dismay, disgust, disappointment, and even anger over Chinese harassment and bullying of our soldiers, Coast Guard and fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.”

Rodriguez stressed that De Vera and the commission “should take the cue from our military,” which has stopped sending officers to China for education, training or social visits, and which has refused to conduct joint patrols with them within the country’s maritime territory.

“We cannot do what Mr. De Vera and several of our universities have done or we will be sleeping with the enemy. I support the actions taken by our military. We cannot have a frenemy and a bully joining us in watching over our own backyard, on which it has encroached and it does not want to leave despite our repeated protestations and arbitral victory,” he added.

Instead of Chinese higher education institutions, local universities should partner with their counterparts in the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and other Philippine allies.

He pointed out that these countries “have supported our sovereign rights over our 200-mile exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 international arbitral award.”

Rodriguez recently visited Seoul, South Korea together with members of the board of regents of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP).

He said they signed a partnership agreement Korea University and Sogang University, which are among the biggest higher education institutions in South Korea.

USTP President Butch Cultura signed the agreements for the state university, which has its main campus in Cagayan de Oro City.

Rodriguez said the engagements aim to strengthen USTP’s research and development programs, and training of USTP professors on research and development at Sogang University in Seoul.

They will also provide opportunities for USTP students to study under scholarships in Sogang University for three- year diploma courses after passing an online Korean language proficiency course, he said.