Response of the Board of Trustees on the issues arising from the Commencement Address of Manuel V. Pangilinan

SPECIAL BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING

11 April 2010

The Board of Trustees met on April 11, 2010 to deliberate on the issues arising from the commencement addresses of its Chairman, Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan, on March 26 & 27, 2010. The Board reviewed the history of the case, from the writing of the speeches to the posting of the blogs, from the response of Mr. Pangilinan to the reply of Fr. Nebres issued on April 3, 2010. It kept in mind as well the concerned statements from faculty, students, staff, administrators and the public at large.

The Board came to the following conclusions:

1.    The Board considers the matter of plagiarism very serious, particularly for an academic institution. It recognizes that Mr. Pangilinan considered this a very serious matter that has caused him deep embarrassment and pain. With him, the Ateneo community has struggled with the issue and engaged in a deep reflection on its own values of honesty and integrity.

2.    In its discussion, the Board kept in mind the Catholic moral tradition which for culpability considers not just the seriousness of the matter but also whether there is full awareness and consent. It recognizes that the matter is serious, but that the plagiarism happened without full awareness on the part of Mr. Pangilinan.

3.    At the same time, the Board acknowledges with deep respect Mr. Pangilinan’s immediate and full acceptance of responsibility and apology for this mistake. This is particularly admirable, because in acting in this manner, he spared others from this responsibility. This is a rare example of humility, selflessness, and leadership in our midst.

4.    The Board accepts Mr. Pangilinan’s apology as the appropriate response to this unfortunate incident.

5.    However, the unanimous decision of the Board is not to accept Mr. Pangilinan’s resignation. It expresses full confidence in his leadership as Chairman.

6.    On the matter of the honorary degree conferred on Mr. Pangilinan, the reasons for the conferment are articulated in the citation. These are his visionary leadership, his love of country and service and commitment to our people, his generous self-giving to our country, the Ateneo de Manila and many other institutions. These remain unchanged.

In conclusion, the Board of Trustees asks Mr. Pangilinan to please reconsider his resignation from the Ateneo Board of Trustees. There is so much to be done, not just for the Ateneo, but for our country and people. His leadership is needed today more than ever.

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Manuel V. Pangilinan and Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres: an exchange of letters on the Ateneo de Manila University commencement speech scandal



Commencement Address of Manuel V. Pangilinan to Ateneo’s Sesquicentennial Batch (Editor’s Note)

date posted: 2010-04-03 21:08:00

Concerns have been raised about the commencement speeches delivered by Mr. Manuel V Pangilinan, chairman of the Ateneo Board of Trustees, last March 26 and 27, which were previously posted on this site.

Below, we post the statements of Mr. Pangilinan and Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ, president of Ateneo de Manila University, contained in their exchange of emails stemming from the said expressed concerns. We are sharing these with the community for its enlightenment.

Thank you very much.

The Ateneo Web Team



Dear Father Ben

Easter greetings!

I have been told last night that portions of my graduation remarks – in particular my address to the Schools of Humanities and Social  Sciences – had been borrowed from certain other graduation speeches.

I had taken a look at the side-by-side comparison @ Facebook, and must admit to this mistake.

For this, I wish to express my sincerest apology to you, the University and to the 2010 graduating class.

I have had some help in the drafting of my remarks, but I take full and sole responsibility for them.

In mitigation perhaps, the body and substance of my speech represented my own story and my thoughts.  And I have labored long hours to get those speeches done.  It is my hope that their impact has not been lost on the graduates. That said, this post  fact event I am certain has devalued the words I have uttered at graduation – whether original or copied.

I am told further that comments posted on Facebook have started to spill beyond graduation, and are now alluding to my misconduct with respect to Meralco, with former President Erap, and so forth.  Under the circumstances, it is best for the Ateneo and myself to shorten the life of this controversy and prevent it from spinning out of control.

Fr Ben, this has been a source of deep personal embarrassment for me.

I am truly regretful for it.  I already have too many battles to fight, and some of them I wish not to have to fight.  In this instance, I do not want to, and would seek only the honourable  and principled way out.  The matter at hand may rest after this public apology, but it gives me a lot of  personal discomfort to continue to be closely involved with Ateneo affairs after this incident.  I am afraid the damage has been done – wala talaga akong mukhang ihaharap pagkatapos.

With much regret, Fr Ben, I would wish to retire from my official duties at the Ateneo.

With all good wishes to you and to our graduates.

M. V. P.



Dear Manny,

I received your apology just a few minutes ago and feel how deeply embarrassed and pained you are by this event. We realize that this was a mistake and we respect and appreciate your taking responsibility and your immediate apology.

At the same time, we know that this happened without your full awareness, though you take full and sole responsibility.  Thus this does not diminish our admiration and respect for your person and for your care and accomplishments for our country and for the Ateneo. In fact, your acceptance of responsibility and apology command our utmost respect.

In reading again through your speeches, we also see that indeed the main part of your speeches were your story and your thoughts. We thank you for taking so much time to craft them and to share them with us and our graduates. We are deeply touched by this sharing of yourself.

Again I realize how profoundly embarrassed you are by this event and that you believe that resigning from official duties at the Ateneo is the principled thing for you to do. However, reflecting on the events and circumstances, I cannot quite agree, and I believe with many others that what is appropriate is the apology you have given.  Neither can I agree with you that “wala talaga akong mukhang ihaharap pagkatapos.”  I would thus like to take up your retiring from official duties at the Ateneo with our officials and Board of Trustees and discuss it further with you.

It is Easter Vigil and may the Risen Christ be Light to you.

Fr. Ben, S.J.