"The Board . . . heard of your resignation after your term had ended [and] when it really had no intention of re-electing you."
This was the statement contained in the letter written last March 1 by Ateneo de Naga University (AdNU) President Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J. which responded to Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo's resignation from the Board of Trustees of the said university.
Earlier, Mayor Robredo had submitted a resignation letter to Board Chairman Monico Jacob with allegations that the former was being demonized in the university's classes. Robredo also accused AdNU of "fail[ing] to uphold the values of truth, integrity, and fairness" which according to him prompted his resignation.
In defense of Ateneo de Naga, Fr. Tabora issued a letter to the Mayor which maintained, among others, that Robredo's term had effectively expired prior to the Board's reception of the resignation letter.
Tabora's letter also stated that the AdNU Board did not intend to re-elect Robredo due to the latter's continued absences from Board meetings for the past two years; at the same time, it asked the mayor to substantiate his accusations.
The relationship between the Mayor and the University had deteriorated in the last two years owing to criticisms by members of AdNU, led by Fr. Wilmer Tria, regarding Robredo's public policies on the Peñafrancia Fiesta, his administration's claims of transparency, and patronage politics in its urban poor housing program.
Accusing AdNU of "allow[ing] itself to to be used by certain parties who have an axe to grind against" himself and his administration, Robredo cited the "Regional Convention on Decoding Philippine Politics" held at the university last January as evidence that "[these parties'] purported search for the truth ha[d] unfairly focused on the city government, with the intention of casting it in a bad light."
Fr. Tabora, however, pointed out that as member of the Board of Trustees, Mayor Robredo "shared oversight of AdNU and [was] in a unique position to point out the failure to very distinguished members of the Board, including the Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus."
Fr. Tabora added that as a member of the Board, Robredo "could have called [Fr. Tabora] to render an account for management's alleged failure to keep AdNU on a path of truth, integrity and fairness."
In fact, according to Fr. Tabora's letter, Mayor Robredo avoided the possible substantiation and "genuine discussion" of these accusations by choosing "to remain silent" about them in Board meetings, and instead, opted to submit a resignation letter containing serious allegations about AdNU.
To the charge that Mayor Robredo was being demonized in classes, Fr. Tabora clarified that he "ha[s] heard criticisms, but no demonization." He nonetheless added that the mayor "may wish to substantiate the claim [that he was being demonized]."
In the meantime, the Department of Philosophy of AdNU which had organized the "Regional Convention on Decoding Philippine Politics" has issued a statement denouncing the mayor's unsubstantiated accusations which had "cast aspersions on all the classes of the University and all the faculty members who teach in these classes," and had "maligned" AdNU's reputation as a learning institution.
The statement also demanded that "if these complaints are mere allegations [by the mayor], if there are no proofs at all to these insinuations, then we demand that a public apology and a retraction be issued."
Meanwhile, in a radio interview aired in a local FM station last March 10, Mayor Robredo said that contrary to what he had written in his resignation letter, he had no intention of attacking the University.
Instead, during the same radio interview, Robredo explicitly accused Fr. Tabora and Fr. Tria as among those parties who had spread malicious lies about him and "who have an axe to grind" against him.
"Gusto kong sabihon itong yaon dyan sa surat ko na pigpaparakalat na makandidato si agom ko, sinda po yan, si Fr. Wilmer, sya [Fr. Tabora], asin iba pa," Robredo asserted.
The Ateneo de Naga University, in the meantime, responded to these new statements of Robredo with clarifications coming from Atty. Maria Rose Sergio, Presidential Assistant for Research and Advocacy of AdNU.
In an interview in the same radio station the following day, Atty. Sergio pointed out that Mayor Robredo's clarification made earlier was inconsistent with his letter which had maligned unequivocally AdNU and not any personalities belonging to the university.
"Inconsistent si nadangog ko [kay Mayor Robredo] kansoodma duman sa letter niya. Kung talagang ang pagtubod niya may mga personalities [sana an umaatake saiya], ano ta sa conclusion [nya] institution an tigtaraman niya na arog kadto na 'we failed to uphold the principles of truth, integrity, and fairness?'" challenged Sergio. (F. J. Lagdameo)