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"Time to call it a day."
After being one of the prime patrons of the Ateneo de Manila University for nearly a decade, business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan announced on Friday that he is cutting ties with the school following disagreements over mining and the RH Bill. Pangilinan is also the main sponsor of Ateneo's champion basketball team, which is gunning for its fifth consecutive UAAP title this year.
In a letter to university president Fr. Jett Villarin, Pangilinan highlighted the difference between his and the school's stand on the RH Bill. After Ateneo professors came out in support of the bill, Villarin issued a statement saying that the university still supports the CBCP's stand against the proposed legislation.
Pangilinan, who is the Chairman and CEO of Philex Mining, was also reacting to a letter by Rev. Fr. Jose Magadia, Jesuit Provincial of the Philippines, in which he referred Jesuit communities to a document entitled "The Golden Mean in Mining: Talking Points."
"Failure to manage one’s affairs – such as weak institutions, failed regulatory agencies, corrupt enforcements – do not mean a particular business is per se evil, as suggested about mining in that Jesuit Paper. It is man’s frailty – Filipino frailty to be exact – that should be blamed, not the business," said Pangilinan.
"And in the context of two other gruesome incidents (i.e., plagiarism and the first mining blow-up) in the recent past, I believe we have come to the irretrievable point where it is best and appropriate to draw the line in the sand, to conclude that we have little or no common interest, and to say that I’d look like a fool helping an institution which opposes my conviction diametrically and unequivocally ('non-negotiable')." By "plagiarism," Pangilinan was referring to his Ateneo commencement speech in 2010 which was found to contain passages lifted from speeches by US President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and others. After explaining his disagreements with the Ateneo, Pangilinan ended his letter to Villarin with the following lines:
"The logical consequences of this are: (i) each of us can pursue our advocacies freely without having to be sensitive with regard each other’s feelings; (ii) my complete and total disengagement from the Ateneo – something which, after reflection, I must confess I welcome with some relief at this stage."
The letter was originally posted on the Twitter account of Denis Lucindo, with the caption, "for the attention primarily of my Ateneo Alumni Friends, the full text of MVP's letter to Fr. Jett Villarin with the subject 'Jesuit Paper.'"
Lucindo is identified as the Vice President for Business Development of Philex Mining Corporation.
Ateneo president Villarin could not be reached for comment, but Sonia Araneta, Ateneo's public relations head, confirmed the Pangilinan letter and said that Villarin has sent him a reply, but declined to say whether Villarin accepted Pangilinan's "total disengagement." "This matter is now best handled in quiet and private conversation," Araneta said. An Ateneo official said they were surprised by the letter and were still "reeling."
The break-up with Ateneo was just the latest of Pangilinan's recent bitter experiences. He personally went to Japan in order to endorse the Philippines as host for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, only for the organization to award that role to Lebanon. He was also dragged into a row on Wednesday involving Senators Enrile and Trillanes, regarding the latter's participation in backdoor deals with China. Trillanes claimed that Pangilinan was helping orchestrate the Philippines' dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea to serve his business interests in the region, which Pangilinan has vehemently denied. - Renee Fopalan/Adrian Dy/HS, GMA News