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kapihan with paepIt was UPLB's turn to host the Kapihan with UP President Alfredo E. Pascual (PAEP) on Feb. 9 at 2 PM at the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Annex Auditorium. The Kapihan, initiated in UP to bring the university constituents together for a public discussion on university issues, is held in various UP campuses. The Kapihan at UPLB was on ethics and public service.

In his opening remarks, Chancellor Rex Victor O. Cruz said that it entails much to develop students who are truly public servants, who are unselfish and dedicated professionals who serve with their whole hearts. He said that the University is now crafting mechanisms to integrate in the curriculum the development of ethics, a sense of nationalism, public service, morality, and pride among the students.

Dr. Edna E.A. Co, dean of the National College of Public Administration and Governance in UP Diliman, discussed the theoretical perspective of ethics and public service. According to her, public service ethics has three factors that are crucial and decisive, namely, ethical reasoning, ethics in action, and moral agency or exemplary leadership. Dean Co described ethical reasoning as a space for discerning between "right" and "wrong." She said that an institution may provide the facilitative or conducive environment to encourage its members to stay on the ethical path.

Ethics in action is manifested in the efficiency, the efficacy, and the outcome of one's work. Dr. Co acknowledged that while it is true that efficiency, efficacy, and economy are management goals, these principles are also the indications of ethics in action.

The third factor, moral agency or exemplary leadership, according to Dean Co, breathes life to ethics in action. "Leaders are the bearers of organizational principles and rules, and must be exemplars in their personal and professional lives. Ethics in public service are borne by leaders themselves," she emphasized.

Three resource persons talked about ethics and public service in carrying out the mandates of an institution such as UPLB. Dr. William Padolina, deputy director general for operations of the International Rice Research Institution (IRRI), discussed issues in research ethics, university-industry partnership, and the use of intellectual property generated from R&D.

He said that the University should be a non-individualistic group that is in pursuit of common growth. He also discussed issues in research ethics such as authorship, plagiarism, peer review, conflicts of interest, data management, and research misconduct. Dr. Padolina was a professor at UPLB where he also held administrative positions before joining IRRI.

Prof. Alleli Ester C. Domingo, associate professor at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics, discussed ethics and public service from the viewpoint of teaching. Quoting Washington Sycip, who gave a lecture during the UP Centennial Lecture Series, Prof. Domingo said that faculty or mentors must encourage learning and the use of knowledge towards nation building. Through her talk, she promoted a culture of service and voluntarism among UPLB faculty and students as well. She quoted liberally from intellectuals, including Jose Rizal, in arguing for a culture of giving.

Dr. Rowena Dt. Baconguis, director of the UPLB Pahinungod, discussed her experience in doing public service while overseeing the UPLB Pahinungod, the university's volunteer arm. She talked about how Pahinungod is an instrument of values education and a means of encouraging public service engagements. She also presented a framework for revitalizing voluntarism in the University, saying that the ultimate goal of a volunteer program is the production of a critical mass of socially involved alumni and leaders. She said that the volunteer program of a university should not begin and end during the student's stay in the university.

At the open forum President Pascual gave his reactions to the issues raised in the Kapihan. Among these were the ethical standards that UP as a secular University should follow, suggesting that these should be based on the rational mind rather than on dogma. He said that UP's general education program should include courses that discuss moral and ethical standards. He further said that ethical standards and values of a University should be based on the greater good. (Josephine M. Bo, OPR)

Photo courtesy of OPR

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