MANILA (UPDATE) — Sen. Imee Marcos on Wednesday criticized the University of the Philippines for supposedly being "madamot (selfish)" with its distance learning materials.
At a Senate hearing, Marcos asked Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Chairman Prospero De Vera to remind the country's premier state university that it was mandated by law to share materials that it had developed for distance learning.
"Pakisabi naman hindi ito time na maging madamot o talagang ipagkait sa mas maliliit na eskuwelahan ang mga materyales," she said.
Marcos said she had received complaints from the provinces of students who found UP-developed learning materials inaccessible.
The senator cited the Open Distance Learning Act, which mandated the UP Open University to assist other higher education institutions design quality learning materials and objects.
In response, De Vera said he had heard the complaint against UP before.
He said other universities were more open in helping smaller schools, citing the De La Salle University and Mapua University.
But UP Open University Chancellor Melinda Bandalaria said she wanted to know the basis of Marcos' complaints.
Bandalaria said even before the Open Distance Learning Act became a law, their institution has been sharing learning resources with other schools.
"Kahit nga training eh, ang training ibinibigay namin for free (Even trainings we give for free). And the resources we have developed can be accessed and used for free and we are promoting that," she said in a phone interview.
Schools in need of learning materials may even reach out to the UP Open University, she added.
But some materials belonging to UP, not just UP Open University, may be subject to copyright, according to Bandalaria.
"Baka din kasi restricted ang UP in terms of sharing the materials dahil copyrighted," she said.
(Even UP might be restricted in terms of sharing the materials because they're copyrighted.)
The UP Open University is one of the schools that recently contributed to CHED's web app, which offers free access to learning materials.
Marcos also raised concerns over the possibility of schools, especially small private universities, becoming online diploma mills with distance learning.
She urged the CHED to strengthen its monitoring and check the quality of materials that would be used in distance learning.
"Very convenient excuse na bigay na lang nang bigay ng diploma, automatic ang promotion, 'di naman natin alam kung ano talaga ang tinapos ng bata. Hindi naman nakakapag-monitor ang CHED," she said.
(It's a very convenient excuse to just give out diplomas, automatic promotion, we don't know what the student finished. And CHED couldn't monitor.)
The Senate hearing aimed to discuss how open distance education could be strengthened in the country as in-person classes remain prohibited due to the prevailing threat of COVID-19.
Last year, Marcos, daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos whose regime was marked by killings, human rights abuses and a plunder of state coffers, also had a brush with the state university on her claims she had graduated from UP.
A high-ranking UP official said Marcos did not graduate from the top state university after questions were raised regarding the senator's academic records.
Marcos earlier shared on Facebook photos of her supposed graduation at the UP College of Law held at the Meralco Theater.