The university in crisis:

Teaching to Transgress,

and walkout at the Jan. 29 UP Board of Regents meeting

 

UP Diliman

 

January 29, 2010   Posted Feb. 1, 2010

 

 

BONUS (REWIND) TRACKS:

Philippine Collegian 1961 special issue on Academic Freedom

 

 

 

One cannot but surmise, given these series of events, that some very powerful people are intent on preventing the installation of Dr. Gonzales as PGH Director. The protest of Regent Sarmiento was clearly aimed at nullifying the election of the PGH Director but it has been overtaken by events. The fact is Dr. Gonzales has taken his oath of office for a fixed term of three years and has actually discharged his duties for more than three weeks. He cannot be removed or suspended except for cause as provided by law. Moreover, an appointment once made and completed, is not subject to reconsideration or revocation.

 

--- From a report of the UP Faculty Regent, Dr. Judy Taguiwalo

 

   
   
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Photos courtesy of CONTEND-UP
           
           

 

What happened during the January 29, 2010 UP BOR meeting?
Judy M. Taguiwalo
UP Faculty Regent

January 31, 2010

January 29 was the first BOR meeting for 2010. And the start of my second year as Faculty Regent.

The weeks prior to the meeting were hectic as I prepared my report on my 2009 stint as Faculty Regent and received appeals from faculty, staff and students from all constituent universities of UP, with UP Baguio and the Open U as the only exceptions

When I arrived at Quezon Hall at around 8:30 that morning (the BOR meeting was set at 9 am) scores of students, faculty, REPS and staff from Diliman, PGH, Manila and Los Banos were already there. They circulated a statement entitled “A University in Crisis”. (see below)

The BOR meeting started with CHED Chair Angeles presiding. President Roman, Malacanang- appointed Regents Sarmiento, Chua, and Gonzales, Alumni Regent Pascual, Staff Regent Cabrera, Student Regent Banez and myself were present.

The agenda of the meeting was approved with the inclusion of the UP Cebu High School issue in other matters. The minutes of the December 18 BOR meeting was also approved.

Regent Sarmiento protests the December 18 election of new PGH Director

The first item placed on the agenda for discussion was the protest of Regent Sarmiento dated January 29, 2010. Regent Sarmiento protested the election of Jose Gonzales as PGH Director on the grounds that “The Student Regent is not only under suspension but is in fact not a student as defined by the University. Ms. Banez tried to register for the second semester but (sic) was only on November 17, 2009 that she tried to register…… “

The “Final Prayer” prayer of Regent Sarmiento’s written protest was:

“….the election of Dr. Jose Gonzales as Director of the Philippine General Hospital is hereby declared null and void on the following grounds: that an unqualified person claiming to be the Student Regent, although she is not even a student, Charisse Banez was allowed to vote for Dr. Gonzales giving him winning margin

“….the Board declare that the Student Regent be deemed to have ceased, the Student Regent not being a student

“…and items taken up by the Board at the 1252nd meeting on December 18, 2009 including the appointment of the University officials under B of the agenda, without considering, as a vote that of the Student Regent because she is no longer a student of the UPLB, she being thus is no longer a regent, she being no longer a student, all remain approved.”

The Alumni Regent, Staff Regent and I voiced our position that the issue of the Student Regent voting last December 18, 2009 was resolved when the Board voted on the motion of President Roman. In that meeting, the UP President presented the December 15 letter of the Chancellor of UPLB (received by her office on December 17) informing her of the non-student status of the Student Regent on account of her failure to register for the second semester of Academic Year 2009-2010. The UP President also presented the December 17 memorandum of Vice President for Legal Affairs Theodore Te on the status of the Student Regent. The memorandum stated that “considering the information given by the UPLB...that the incumbent SR is not enrolled during the second semester, even for the purposes of residency”…then, “this would be a ground to declare the position vacant”. When asked, VP Te confirmed that under the UP Charter, the BOR has the power to prescribe rules for it own governance.

Discussions ensued in an executive session and at some point the SR was asked to step out while the rest of the Regents deliberated on her status. Then President Roman moved that the SR be allowed to sit in the meeting as an observer. I and several other Regents objected to the motion as it was the first time that the Student Regent was informed of the letter of the UPLB Chancellor and the December 17, 2009 memorandum of Vice President Te. I said that the Student Regent has not been given the chance to consult with a legal adviser regarding her status and due process requires that she be given the opportunity to do so. The Staff Regent said that this was an alarming precedent as a charge could be raised against any of the Regents on the actual day of a meeting set to decide on contentious issues and that Regent would be disenfranchised without the chance to prepare for his/her answers. The Alumni Regent also objected stating that even if the allegations raised against the SR were true, the hold over rule, meaning the incumbent continues to sit until a replacement is named and qualified, would allow her to remain as a voting member of the board.

The SR was called in and Chairman Angeles informed her that the Board would take a vote on whether she would assume an observer status or continue as a voting member of the Board. Right before President Roman’s motion was put to a vote; it was clarified that a YES vote would mean that the SR sits on the Board as an observer until the issue about her enrolment is settled and a NO vote, that she continues as a voting member until the same issue is resolved. The SR was allowed to vote on the motion she continues to be a regular voting member of the Board unless the Board decides to make her an observer as proposed in the motion. In a secret voting, with all of the nine (9) Regents present casting their votes, four voted YES and five voted NO. The motion was not carried so the Student Regent continued to sit as a voting member of the Board at the December 18 meeting.

Regent Sarmiento participated in the voting on the SR’s status and did not question the propriety or jurisdiction of the BOR deciding on the fate of the SR’s participation in the December 18 meeting. Neither did he object when the SR was asked to return to the meeting and participated in the voting on the motion of President Roman. Regent Sarmiento subsequently also participated in the voting for the new PGH Director where Dr. Jose Gonzales was elected by a vote of six (6) while then incumbent PGH Director Dr. Alfiler (who had already served a total of two consecutive terms) garnered five (5) votes. It was only after the remaining items in the agenda were voted upon and when the meeting was about to be adjourned that Regent Sarmiento expressed verbally his intent to protest the election of the new PGH Director.

January 29 protest of Regent Sarmiento: Latest attempt to prevent Dr. Jose Gonzales from assuming the position of PGH Director

We, the Sectoral Regents and the Alumni Regent, were not against discussing the current status of the Student Regent prior to deliberating on the matters on the agenda for the January 29, 20101 meeting. But we found it highly irregular that the question on the status of the Student Regent during the December 18 meeting, which had already been decided was being revisited for the purpose of nullifying the election of Dr. Gonzales as PGH Director.

The irregularity of the protest on the status of the Student Regent by Regent Sarmiento tying it with the election of the PGH Director, who was not the choice of President Roman, Regent Sarmiento, Regent Gonzales and Regent Chua, is better understood by what occurred after the December 18 meeting. The term of outgoing PGH Director Alfiler was to end on December 31, 2009. There was no issuance of the appointment of university officials right after the BOR meeting on December 18, when previous BOR decisions on appointments were announced on the same day as the BOR meetings (e.g. October 21 OSU Memorandum on Appointment of University Officials and November 23 OSU Memorandum on Appointment of University Officials). When I inquired about this failure to issue a similar memorandum on the December 18 decisions of the BOR on the appointment of University Officials, the Secretary of the University said that because it was the last working day of the year, the issuance would be made on January 4, 2010. This clarification was not consistent with the fact that the December 18 decision of the BOR on the appointment of UP Artists was posted on the UP official website on December 18 itself.

The memorandum on the appointments of new university officials made during the December 18 meeting came out only on January 4. Early on that day, Dr. Gonzales was informed by the UP Manila Chancellor that he (Dr. Gonzales)would take his oath of office at 2:00 pm of January 4. But prior to the scheduled oath-taking, the UP Manila Chancellor sent a message to Dr. Gonzales that his oath was reset for January 5 as President Roman wanted to meet with them in Diliman that afternoon. There was neither an oath taking on January 5 because on that day President Roman issued Memorandum No. PERR-2010-001, appointing Chancellor Ramon L. Arcadio as Officer-in-Charge of PGH. The Sectoral Regents immediately issued a statement dated January 6 protesting the deliberate refusal of President Roman to install Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as PGH Director, duly elected by the Board of Regents. There was an emergency meeting held at the Manila Hotel in the afternoon of January 6 attended by Chairman Angeles, President Roman, Chancellor Arcadio and Dr. Gonzales. At noon time of January 7 at the height of the protests of PGH personnel, medical students and staff against the refusal to install Dr. Gonzales as Director, the formal notification of appointment of Dr. Gonzales dated December 18, 2009 was sent to the UP Manila Chancellor. At two in the afternoon of that day, Dr. Gonzales took his oath before the Chancellor with other university officials and staff of PGH in attendance.

One cannot but surmise, given these series of events, that some very powerful people are intent on preventing the installation of Dr. Gonzales as PGH Director. The protest of Regent Sarmiento was clearly aimed at nullifying the election of the PGH Director but it has been overtaken by events. The fact is Dr. Gonzales has taken his oath of office for a fixed term of three years and has actually discharged his duties for more than three weeks. He cannot be removed or suspended except for cause as provided by law. Moreover, an appointment once made and completed, is not subject to reconsideration or revocation.

When a Regent moved for a vote supporting Regent Sarmiento’s protest against the Student Regent’s participation in the December 18, 2009 meeting and nullifying the appointment of Dr. Gonzales, the Staff Regent, Alumni Regent, Student Regent and I protested. But there was no more room for discussion as one of the Regents insisted on putting an end to more talk and to proceed to the voting. I asked for a break and conferred with the other Sectoral Regents and the Alumni Regent. We discussed the consequences of participation in the unlawful removal of an elected University official, without cause and without due process, as proposed by Regent Sarmiento, and the subsequent election of another PGH director in spite of the fact that the post is not vacant. I decided that I could not countenance being part of a process which was clearly aimed at reversing the decision on the choice of the PGH Director made last December and which could be considered illegal. It left me physically ill. I opted to leave the meeting.

The Staff Regent, Student Regent and Alumni Regent after a while also left leaving the meeting without a quorum.


We are open to deliberating on the status of the Student Regent but it should not be used to overturn a decision not palatable to the powers that be


Let me reiterate: we, the Sectoral Regents and the Alumni Regent, were open to a discussion of the current status of the Student Regent prior to deliberating on the matters on the agenda for the January 29 meeting. But what we found highly irregular was that the question on the status of the Student Regent involved the nullification of decisions of December 18, in particular the selection of the PGH Director, undermining the integrity of decision-making processes in our institution.
Our university faces a range of burning issues which we as Regents, through our collective wisdom, must deliberate and decide on. But we must do so with the highest respect for due process and respect for decisions, especially on appointments, arrived at by the Board even in the rare case that the decision goes against the wishes of the highest executive official within or outside UP.

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Power Play: Collegian editorial on the status of the Student Regent


The UP Board of Regents.

The BOR is the highest decision and policy-making body of UP, tasked with its governance, serving as the final word and last resort on any matter within the university. Under the UP Charter of 2008, the BOR’s primary duty is the “administration of the national university and the exercise of its corporate powers.”

And we, the students, have but a single representative to this august board: the Student Regent. This year, our duly selected SR is Charisse Bañez.

According to Regent Abraham Sarmiento, a Malacañang appointee, Bañez is “not only under suspension, [she] is in fact not a student as defined by this university.” As such, he urges the BOR to “declare that the Student Regent be deemed to have ceased, the Student Regent not being a student.”

What defines a UP student?

The BOR focuses on the technical. The Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS) states clearly that the position of SR may be considered vacant due to “incapacity to enroll or file a LOA.” As of the January 29 BOR meet, Bañez was neither enrolled, nor was she on leave of absence.

The simple answer, then, is to assert that Bañez should simply be removed. However, this cut-and-dried “solution” leaves out the context of this case.

That Bañez had in fact already completed every academic requirement for graduation; the only reason she is applying for residency or LOA, instead of continuing with graduate studies, is a pending case with the Student Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) on trumped-up charges dating back from her term as chair of the UP Los Baños Student Council.

That this is not the only attempt to discredit the SR; nearly a year ago, that same SDT case was cited as the reason for relegating Bañez merely to “observer” status for the first two months of her term as SR.

That, had Bañez been anyone else but a regent unflinchingly critical of the administration’s policies, this issue could have been neatly and quickly resolved. The BOR’s power is well-established. It would have been a simple matter to urge the UPLB administration to facilitate the acceptance of Bañez’s application for residency or LOA.

On one side of the scale, her tardiness; on the other, the question of student representation. Where there is room for discretion, the bias should be for the upholding of democratic rights.

Indeed, the context of this case is the reason why UP students must defend the Office of the Student Regent. Consider the CRSRS rule cited above, so convincingly utilized by the BOR against Bañez. In full, the provision reads: “Upon vacancy of the position of the SR-select or the incumbent SR due to… incapacity to enroll or file a LOA… or any other cause which prevents him/her from discharging functions, the position shall be filled by the second selected nominee, or the third nominee.”

The provision is unquestionably worded in a manner intended to ensure that an SR will always be part of the BOR. Yet despite Bañez’s clear capacity to amend her lateness to enroll or file a LOA, despite her clear ability to continue discharging her duties and functions as SR, several board members have intentionally elected to interpret the provision in a way that will do the most damage to Bañez.

Underscoring the importance of this conflict is the fact that the BOR is set to decide on numerous concerns, which are essential to determining the future of the university.

In Diliman, there is the refusal to grant Sarah Raymundo tenure, a case which has transcended the single professor seeking tenure to encompass concerns like faculty rights and academic freedom. In UP Los Baños, there is a proposal to implement the Large Lecture Class Scheme (LLCS) in all general education classes, which will determine whether UP, instead of fighting for greater state subsidy, will sacrifice quality education on the altar of “cost-cutting” measures. In UP Cebu, there is the planned closure of the UP Visayas Cebu High School, delineating the priorities of a college which seeks to rechannel the resources funding the high school into the self-interested goal of becoming an autonomous unit.

In the face of these issues, every vote matters. Indeed, during the contested December 18 vote on the directorship of the Philippine General Hospital, Jose Gonzales won over Carmelo Alfiler by a single vote. One of the votes in favor of Gonzales was cast by our SR.

In short, we cannot afford not to have a student representative.

The delay in her residency application notwithstanding, Bañez was democratically selected through a fair and democratic process by the students of the university. She was a student enrolled at the university at the time of her nomination, and has sought to remain so, though UPLB has denied her LOA request. Most importantly — though other members of the BOR may not agree — she has a proven “track record reflective of [her] commitment to serve the university.”

If the only “solution” to the resolution to the problems concerning Bañez’s status as a student is to remove the SR, we reject it. If the BOR refuses to let our representative into its hallowed halls, then we the students will stand at the fringes of the seat of power, outside every BOR meet held without an SR, to assert, defend, and uphold our rights and welfare.

 

     
     
           
           


AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS
CONCERNED UP FACULTY, STUDENTS, REPS AND STAFF
JANUARY 29, 2010

THE UNIVERSITY IN CRISIS

A crisis is well underway when people who make up an institution are responsibly aware of shared values that facilitate the attainment of their common goals and recognize that the same values are threatened. The issues being raised by various sectors in the different constituent units of the University of the Philippines System are sufficiently alarming for they cast considerable doubt on the UP Administration's commitment to good governance and democratization.

The Large Lecture Class Scheme (LLCS) which converts the regular class size of every General Education subject from 30-40 to 150-200 in UP Los Banos will be effective by the first semester of AY 2010-2010 according to a memorandum released by Chancellor Luis Velasco on January 4, 2009. This decision was arrived at without substantive and participative consultation with students and faculty. The LLCS has ushered in the largest, most relentless opposition in UPLBs recent history.

In January 14, 2009, Dean Enrique Avila of UP Visayas Cebu College (UPVCC) announced the suspension of the UP Visayas Cebu High School (UPVCHS) admission test in consonance with his proposal to phase out the secondary institution. The reason for this drastic move is UPVCC's bid for becoming an autonomous constituent unit of UP, hence the need to rechannel resources.

Both cases reveal the setbacks of commercialization espoused by the Roman Administration and the violation of the principles of democratic governance which the University is supposed to uphold. When proposals are turned to decisions made behind closed doors, and when the same decisions bear the effect of the abolition of educational institutions in the case of UPVCC and the contractualization of labor or even job loss for the untenured faculty; and the steady decline of general education on account of large class size in the case of UPLB, any university aiming for survival must rethink its dogmatic commitment to rationalization schemes.

A series of huge and furious protests earlier this month were undertaken by hospital staff, students and concerned faculty from the Philippine General Hospital, UP-Manila and UP-Diliman to condemn the refusal of President Emerlinda Roman to install Jose C. Gonzales PGH Director. The vigorous protests based on sound arguments and just ground resulted in the swearing in of Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as the PGH Director, duly elected by the Board of Regents on December 18, 2009.

UP students across the nation are outraged by what they claim as a systematic violation of their right to representation in the University's highest policy-making body. The various charges against Student Regent Charisse Banez, now under appeal, have also been used to threaten her of a denial of participation in the BOR. This situation is reflective of the Administration's proclivity to silence the voice of the studentry in crafting decisions that greatly shape the quality of education.

The long and drawn-out tenure application of Sociology Professor Sarah Raymundo, that had gone through the process of appeal and denied twice by the offices of the Chancellor and the President have elicited the most unyielding objections from local and international scholars, students and university unions. Professor Raymundo's has proven that when the university institutionalizes and proclaims its academic standards, the public stakes its claim on it. Her tenure application has exposed not only the arbitrariness of the tenure process but also the Administration's disposition on not granting permanency on activist professors. Despite the series of denials from different administrative levels, Professor Raymundo's case has not been discussed in a manner that is substantive and observant of the procedures approved by University bodies.

The cases stated above are by no means disparate. They are testimonies to the crises of good governance and democratization that plague the UP system. They raise fundamental questions, beyond political stakes, on our ability as members of an academic institution to oppose grave abuses of discretions and to assert that the ideals of a democratic institution should be actualized. It is in the spirit that we call upon the Board of Regents to heed our call to question the corporatist claims of the Roman Administration. There is no better time other than this moment of crisis to take another look at another vision of our pact to good governance and democratization.

 

     
     
     

 

Tanda ng Panunupil, Tugon ng Paniningil
Today at 4:42pm
 

Pahayag Hinggil sa Hindi Pagkilala at Panunupil Kay SR Bañez

Sa harap ng lumalalang krisis sa edukasyon, muling lumilitaw ang pangil ng panunupil ng administrasyon sa loob ng unibersidad.

Nilisan ng apat na rehente ang pinakahuling pulong ng Board of Regents ngayong Enero, bilang protesta sa pagnanais nila Pangulong Emerlinda Roman at iba pang kasapakat niya na bawiin ang mga nabuong desisyon sa pulong nila noong nakaraang buwan.

Tampok dito ang usapin ng paghirang sa direktor ng Philippine General Hospital. Disyembre pa sinisikap harangin nila Roman ang pagpapaupo kay Dr. Jose Gonzales, na siyang hinalal ng BOR bilang bagong direktor ng PGH. Hindi pa kikilalanin si Gonzales kung hindi nagprotesta ang mga kawani ng PGH kasama ng ilang rehente.

Sa kabila nito, ipinagpipilitan pa rin nila Roman na mahirang muli ang dati nang direktor ng PGH na si Dr. Carmelo Alfiler, na may basbas ng Malakanyang at panig sa pribatisasyon ng PGH. Minamaniobra ng administrasyon ang pagpapatalsik kay Student Regent Charisse ”Chaba” Bañez upang mabawasan ang sagka sa nasabing plano, at iba pang anti-estudyanteng palisiyang maaaring mapasa sa nalalabing dalawang buwan ng kanyang termino.

Walang batayan ang muling pag-ungkat sa usapin ng katayuan ng SR bilang mag-aaral sapagkat pinahintulutan na nilang bumoto si Chaba noong Disyembre hinggil sa usapin ng PGH. Gamit ang labanang teknikal, pinalalabas nila Roman na walang karapatang maging kinatawan ng mga estudyante ang SR. Subalit kung tutuusin, napakadaling ayusin ang pagkuha ng residency na iginigiit ng panig ng administrasyon, kung hindi lamang nauuwi sa pulitika ang labanan.

Sa puntong ito, malinaw na may interes na pinangangalagaan ang administrasyon sa pagpapaalis sa SR. Payagan man siyang maupo sa BOR sa kondisyon ng pagkuha ng residency o leave of absence, tiyak na hahadlangan ito ng administrasyon ng UPLB, lalo at nakabangga ni Chaba si UPLB Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco dahil sa kanyang kritikal na pagbatikos sa laganap na represyon sa UPLB.

Simula pa lamang ng pagkakaluklok niya bilang SR, inulan na ng kaso’t protesta si Chaba mula sa Chancellor ng UPLB, kabilang ang kaso laban sa konseho ng UPLB dahil sa di raw pagpapasa ng financial statement. Ginawaran ng suspensyon si Chaba at ilang piling kasapi ng UPLB-USC gayong naipasa nila ang financial statement bago matapos ang kanilang termino. Ngayon, nagsisilbi itong tuntungan upang hindi payagan ni Velasco na makakuha ng residency ang SR sa UPLB.

Patuloy na hinaharang ang pagtatapos ng SR dahil sa gawa-gawang mga kasong isinasampa laban sa kanya, at taliwas sa pahayag ng administrasyon, nananatiling estudyante ng UP si Chaba hanggang kasalukuyan, bagaman hindi siya nakakuha ng residency sa itinakdang oras.

 

Higit sa pamumulitika, ginagamit lamang na tuntungan ang naging kahinaan ni Chaba upang tuluyang alisan ng boses sa loob ng BOR ang mga estudyante.

Sa kasaysayan ng unibersidad, inaabuso ng adminsitrasyon ang kapangyarihan ng BOR upang magpasa ng mga palisiyang kontra-estudyante gaya ng pagtataas ng matrikula noong 2006. Pagtunggali naman dito ang dahilan kung bakit ipinaglaban ng mga iskolar ng bayan ang pagkakaroon ng kinatawan sa loob ng BOR ng iba’t ibang sektor ng pamantasan, kabilang ang mga estudyante, kawani’t kaguruan.

Ang SR ang nagsisilbing daluyan ng isinusulong nating Student Demands tulad ng mas maayos na serbisyo’t pasilidad at iba pa. Nasa estratehikong posisyon din ang SR para alamin ang mga palisiyang nais ipasa ng administrasyon na maaaring makasama sa interes ng mga estudyante. Gayundin upang tutulan ang napipintong pagtataas ng laboratory fees tulad ng sa Civil Engineering, EEE, at pagtaas ng matrikula sa mga kursong gradwado. Mahalaga rin ang paninindigan ng ating SR sa mga pambansang panawagan ng mga mamamayan.

Ngayon, higit lalong kailangan ang presensiya ng SR sa loob ng BOR, lalo at papatapos na ang termino ni Roman sa pagka-Pangulo habang nagkukumahog pa rin itong maipasa ang mga programa ng komersyalisasyon sa UP.

Nagpapatuloy ang laban ng mga iskolar ng bayan para sa ating mga student demands na matagal na nating ipinapanawagan. Matining ang pangangailangan upang tiyaking hindi mawala ang kaisa-isang tinig ng mga mag-aaral sa loob ng BOR na siyang nagsusulong ng ating mga interes at maniningil sa administrasyon para sa ating demokratikong karapatan.

Batikusin ang maniobra ni Roman at mga kasapakat sa BOR!
Pangulong Roman, taksil sa pamantasan!

Ipagalaban ang ating mga student demands!
Ipagtanggol ang Opisina ng Rehente ng mga Mag-aaral!
Manindigan para sa ating Karapatan at Kagalingan!
Wakasan ang komersyalisasyon at pribatisasyon ng UP!

Makiisa sa Systemwide-Coordinated Programa ng Pagkundena sa mga hakbangin ng BOR at laban sa patuloy na komersyalisasyon at panunupil sa pamantasan. Martes, Pebrero 2, 11:30 ng umaga sa Bulwagang Palma.

ANAKBAYAN –UP Diliman*
League of Filipino Students – UP Diliman*

*Ang ANAKBAYAN at LFS ay kasapi ng Student Alliance for the Advancement of Demoratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) at ng Kabataan Partylist.

     
     
     
     


 

Official Statement of the USC-UP Diliman)

UNMASK THEIR SUBTERFUGE: Self-Interest In Discrediting Our Student Regent

Unmask Their Subterfuge:
Self-Interest In Discrediting Our SR


We have a Student Regent.

Contrary to the claims of the UP administration that Ms. Charisse Bernadine Bañez is not qualified to sit as a Student Regent (SR), the University Student Council of UP Diliman (UPD-USC), asserts that Ms. Bañez remains qualified and remains to be the Student Regent, unanimously mandated by the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC), to represent the student body.

The UPD-USC further condemns to the highest level the manipulation of some members of the Board of Regents (BOR) and the Chancellor of UPLB in once again trying to render our SR incapacitated to discharge her duties as the representative of the students in the highest policy- and decision-making body in the University. We detest this abuse, clearly driven by the interest of reversing the decision of the BOR on the PGH Directorship at the expense of the student’s essential right to be represented.

While it is true that Ms. Banez does not officially have a Residency or Leave of Absence (LOA) status in UPLB, she remains to be a student, as she has not been officially separated from the University. She has also filed an application and appeal for Residency and then an LOA, both pending the approval of the UPLB Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco even before the January 29 BOR meeting. Contrary to the claims of the UP administration, Ms. Banez never withdrew her application for residency.

It bears notice that this is the same UPLB Chancellor who had continuously attempted to discredit Ms. Bañez and prevented her from sitting as the Student Regent ever since her selection in April 2009. He is also the same Chancellor who had prevented her from graduating from the University despite her fulfillment of all her academic requirements. Yet again, he is the same Chancellor who had refused to grant her a residency status in UPLB.. Clearly therefore, our SR's application shall not be easily granted without the strong pressure and assertion from the students.

The vendetta of Chancellor Velasco against Ms. Bañez is familiar to the students of UPLB. During the term of Ms. Bañez, she has effectively exposed Chancellor Velasco as a conspirator behind the repression, harassment, and militarization incidents in UPLB. It became known that Chancellor Velasco’s hands were not clean when the UPLB-USC of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 were made to face trumped-up charges; when the UPLB Administration refused to collect the student fund and publication fees, thereby depriving the student council and publication of the necessary source for their operating expenses; when the Editor-in-Chief who topped the editorial exam of the UPLB Perspective was not appointed; and when the military agents were permitted to enter the campus and conduct surveillances against progressive student organizations. In all these, SR Bañez was able to effectively lead the students in victorious campaigns. Clearly, this is not the first time that the Velasco administration attacked our student leaders in an attempt to abate student protests and the movement for democratic rights in the University. The removal of our SR --one of UPLB's most assertive student leaders-- from office would be a great source of relief for Chancellor Velasco.
 

 

 

Currently, even President Roman and the Malacanang appointees in the BOR have their own interests in making the SR position vacant. They have currently cited the ratified CRSRS to discredit our SR, but we must not forget that nine months ago, they had explicitly violated the same document when they kept our SR from representing us in the Board for two months. They have proven to us that they can implement the rules when it suits them; they disregard the same rules when it is in conflict with their interests.

Their interests lies in the Directorship of the Philippine General Hospital and the micro-privatization of PGH. The PGH Directorship became a highly-contestested position during the BOR vote-casting last December 2009, such that some members of the BOR who lost in the vote tried to move to rescind and invalidate the decision to appoint Dr. Jose Gonzales as the new PGH Director, in order to field their own bet. Pres. Roman even issued a memorandum in January to hold the oath-taking of Dr. Gonzales but was defeated by the mass movement in UP Manila . Now, despite the decision of the BOR to permit our SR to participate and vote in the December BOR meeting, they are now moving to invalidate all BOR decisions since November where our SR have participated, including the votation for the PGH Directorship. .


The ill motives are clearly laid down in front of us. We shall be disenfranchised of our right to representation as Ms. Bañez is attacked and discredited just so the few can secure their interests in the BOR. This move from the administration to discredit our SR is a curtailment of our right to genuine representation as they are aware that Ms. Bañez does not have a successor and that the GASC shall not convene until April 2010 to select a new SR.

They have proven once again, that for the powers that be led by Pres. Roman and the Malacañang bloc, self-interest gains more weight than our fundamental right to be represented. They have committed a grave disrespect not only to Ms. Banez and the institution she represents, but as well as to the University that expects a transparent and democratic governance from its administration.

It is imperative for us to take our historic role of defending our student institutions. We are called once again to stand by our Student Regent and condemn this intervention from the Roman administration. Our SR must discharge her duties of representing the students until the end of her term especially since fee increases and various anti-student policies in other campuses shall be decided upon. Together, let us assert that UPLB Chancellor Velasco grant the application of Ms. Banez for Residency, give back her rights and privileges as a student of the University, and stop the political persecution and harassment in UPLB.

With the firm resolve demonstrated by those who fought for the establishment of the OSR, we call on our fellow members of the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) to reaffirm the mandate we have given to Ms. Banez. We call on the broadest number of students in the entire University system to support the campaign to defend our SR from political persecution and attacks; to prove, once again, that measures meant to impede our democratic rights shall fail against the collective militancy of the students.


Stop political persecution in the University!
Reaffirm the mandate and Defend our Student Regent!
Fight for our right to be represented!

     

 

BONUS (REWIND) TRACKS

 

Philippine Collegian special issue on Academic Freedom

 

           



Selected Articles:

 

■    The University in a Free Society by James Bryant Conant

■    Academic Freedome and the CAFA Inquiry by Perfecto Fernandez

■    The University and the State by Pacifico Agabin

■    Editorial Page
 

 

Philippine Collegian

April 1961

 

Editor-in-Chief: Reynato S. Puno (now SC Chief Justice)

Associate Editor: Leonardo Quisumbing (now SC justice)

     
     
     
           
           
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