From Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, Faculty Regent, after the BOR meet:
What happened during the January 29, 2010 UP BOR meeting?
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.
The aforementioned open letter circulated during the BOR meet
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. #
Joint statement of UPD chapters of Anakbayan and LFS, February 1
Tanda ng Panunupil, Tugon ng Paniningil
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.
Statement of the UPD party KAISA, February 1
Statement of the UPV party SAMASA-PA, February 2
The Sandigan Para sa Mag-aaral at Sambayanan – Party Alliance (SAMASA-PA) stands with the whole UP system in condemning the brazen efforts by UP President Emerlinda Roman and her Malacañang-appointed cronies in the Board of Regents (BOR) to unseat Student Regent (SR) Charisse “Chaba” Bañez.
In the context of the Roman administration’s persistent efforts to commercialize and privatize the university, Bañez’s ouster is but another desperate move to silence the student sector’s voice in the BOR. Bañez’s unseating effectively removes our lone student representative in the highest policy making body in the university. It opens the door to the implementation of more anti-student and anti-people policies in the university.
SR Bañez’s delay in her application for her leave of absence and residency has been used by the Roman administration to justify SR Bañez’s ouster during the January 29, 2010 BOR meeting and push for the cancellation of a BOR decision made in its December 18, 2009 meeting. In this January 29 meeting, regent Sarmiento declared that “the election of Dr. Jose Gonzales as Director of the Philippine General Hospital is hereby declared null and void on the… 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.”
But as the Faculty, Sectoral, and Alumni Regents pointed out, it is “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.” There is no basis for reviving the question of SR Bañez’s standing as a student since the BOR already allowed her to vote last December on the issue of the PGH directorship in spite of the matter.
The BOR will not make an issue out of the late application if their vested interests are not at stake. Likewise, the UP Los Baños administration and the BOR can easily facilitate the matter of SR Bañez’s late application considering the many heavy responsibilities and important tasks she has to attend to as student regent. But it seems that SR Bañez’s criticism of the rampant campus repression in UPLB has led to the UPLB administration’s obstructing of her application’s processing.
The ouster of SR Bañez must therefore be understood in the context of her outstanding track record as a student leader. Throughout her term, SR Bañez has been steadfast in upholding the students’ rights and interests within and outside the BOR from the continued struggle against the tuition and other fee increases, the closure of the UP Cebu High School, the directorship of the Philippine General Hospital, the fight for greater state subsidy, to the various cases of commercialization and campus repression throughout the UP system.
This is not the first time that the UP administration has actively sought to cripple the Office of the Student Regent (OSR). During the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, the Dictator Marcos closed the OSR. In the early 90s, former UP President Abueva intervened in the SR selection process by appointing his own puppet SR over the one chosen by the students. Last year, the SAMASA-PA was active in the campaign to confirm SR Bañez during the time when the UP administration blatantly blocked her assumption of office.
We are aware of the significance of the OSR and the great struggles waged by generations of iskolars ng bayan to assure student representation in the BOR. We are thus outraged by this latest attack on the student’s mandate. SR Bañez’s ouster is not a mere case of negligence or the imposition of technicalities. It is a notorious case of political persecution.
History tells us, however, that the intensified repression in the campus will only further strengthen the flames of greater resistance from the students. In these urgent times, there is no room for the spineless. Only through our militancy and commitment can we emerge victorious against this latest threat to our democratic rights. Only our unity and collective action can ensure our victory in our struggles. ■
STOP THE POLITICAL PERSECUTION OF SR CHARISSE BAÑEZ! END CAMPUS REPRESSION! DEFEND THE OSR!
SANDIGAN PARA SA MAG-AARAL AT SAMBAYANAN – PARTY ALLIANCE (SAMASA-PA)
It has been five years since a tyrant took over University of the Philippines.
Emerlinda Roman, President of University of the Philippines (2004-2010) promised and took an oath to uplift the state of the whole UP Community through implementing policies that will benefit the majority of the university’s population. It was in Roman’s term that the tuition fee increased by more or less 300% which resulted to the further commercialization of the University in contrary to its primary goal of giving education to the masses. It was also in Roman’s term that the Ayala Technohub (supposedly a Science & Technology Park) was built which used the university’s idle lands as Income-Generating Projects instead of using it for academic buildings to further cater with the students’ academic needs. It was also in her term that Student Representation was threatened, as there were modes of changing the current Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection which will only result to three scenarios: 1) the Student Regent’s place in the Board of Regents will be vacated 2) the Student Regent will be Malacanang-appointed 3) the disenfranchisement of the Office of the Student Regent. This issue however underwent a referendum and showed that the most decisive force in the university is the collective action of the students, as more than 50% + 1 voted to maintain the current CRSRS.
As Roman’s term is coming to an end, it is predictable that she, together with her “teammates” will make moves and seize the time left for them to further worsen the crisis our university is facing.
These moves involve the still not granted tenure of a progressive professor from the Dept. of Sociology, Prof. Sarah Raymundo with flawed and unjust reasons such as respecting the “autonomy of the department” when Roman has the capacity to grant the progressive professor’s tenure. It is unjust and flawed as to say that the continuous fight for Prof. Sarah’s tenure is only the interest of the “subjective minority” when in fact, last March 2008, the majority of the Dept.’s tenured professors voted for the granting of Prof. Sarah’s tenure and it was the “subjective minority” from the Dept. of Sociology that relentlessly turned the decision for political reasons.
And Last January 29 2010, four sectoral regents walked out of the Board of Regents’ meeting as a sign of protest against Pres. Roman and her team’s mode of resurrecting the issue of Student Regent Charisse Banez’s legality to represent the students, on the grounds that Banez is not a student of UP as she was not able to comply on the assigned date but contrary to that, Banez is still a student of UP Los Banos until now. But this issue was already resolved on the BOR meeting last Dec.18 2009, wherein Banez was one of those who voted for Dr. Jose Gonzalez as the new director of the Philippine General Hospital. Roman and her “teammates”, being the pro-commercialization regents that they are wants Dr. Carmelo Alfiler, also Malacanang’s bet and is pro-commercialization, to be PGH’s director. In this light, it is tactical for Roman to eliminate one of the regents that go against her will, and the easiest target is the Student Regent. Roman is using Banez’s weakness to eliminate the student’s reprentative to the BOR to make it easier for them to railroad and implement anti-student policies such as the new set of proposed increase in graduate courses and laboratory fee increases in Civil Engineering and EEE, which will only further worsen the students’ state.
These events only show how the current education system is already rotting and that this system does not cater anymore to the welfare of the majority of the students. We, as iskolars ng bayan must act together as one community and oppose the administration’s fascism through collective action. Let us once again unite to defend our representation to the BOR and forward our demands as students.
Defend Student Representation! Defend the Office of the Student Regent!
Kabataan, Itakwil ang Bulok na Sistema ng Edukasyon! Kumilos para sa Panlipunang Pagbabago!
Uphold Student Demands!
End Commercialization and Privatization of UP!
Fight for a Nationalist, Scientific and Mass-oriented system of Education!
Ang aklat ng isang tunay na mag-aaral ay ang lipunang kanyang kinabibilangan, guro niya ang mamamayan, at ang pagsusulit niya ay ang pagsasagawa ng mapagpalayang mga pagkilos
Editorial of the Philippine Collegian, Feb. 3
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.
From KASAMA sa UP, alliance of UP student councils, Feb. 2
For several occasions we have witnessed how the University of the
Philippines Board of Regents (BOR) has become the instrument of the Arroyo
regime to advance its policy of neo-liberal education characterized by
commercialization and privatization in the University. With the expiry of her
term fast approaching, Pres. Emerlinda Roman along with her gang of
Malacañang appointees is fast tracking UP’s ultimate leap to the road of profitmaking and corporate orientation, consistent with Arroyo’s neo-liberal education policy.
The numbers advantage of Roman and her gang have for many instances
lorded over the decision-making in the BOR. Board decisions have almost always
sidelined the sentiments of the sectoral regents – student, faculty and staff – who
represent the largest sectors in the University. The consideration of the different
regents’ voting biases can easily be traced to the people who placed them in the
Board: Roman and her gang owe their position to their patron Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo while the sectoral regents are directly accountable to their respective
constituents from whom their mandate emanates.
However, in the BOR meeting last January, the sectoral regents
including the Alumni Regent could no longer stomach the power play and walked
out of the meeting to protest the maneuvers of Roman and her gang to make a
mockery out of the BOR meeting held last December. Despite the many decisions
the BOR came up with last December, Roman and her ilk are primarily intent to
overturning just one Board decision – the selection of Dr. Jose Gonzales as new
Philippine General Hospital (PGH) director. In total disrespect to the majority
vote garnered by Dr. Gonzales, Roman and her ilk insist on re-appointing PGH
director Carmelo Alfiler – patron of PGH privatization and Malacañang’s bet.
The dogged attempt to re-appoint Alfiler disregards also the two-term limit rule
of the University which can only be overturned by an exceptional performance of
the incumbent to which Roman cannot justify.
The PGH directorship would have continued to be in limbo and PGH operations
undermined if not for the aggressive protests of the PGH workers and the sectoral regents. Desperate, Roman’s gang thus maneuvered to unseat Student Regent (SR) Charisse “Chaba” Bañez in the January 29 Meeting of the BOR to force their will on the PGH directorship. Roman’s ilk resorted to technicality and legalese to question the status of the SR in the BOR. If not for the collusion of Roman and the UP Los Baños (UPLB) administration headed by Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco, the processing of the late application for residency of SR Bañez can easily be facilitated to ensure continued student representation in the Board.
Student representation under attack
Contrary to the attempt to depict the ploy to unseat SR Bañez as just an attempt to abide by the law, the UP administration is bent on finding ways to rid the BOR of a representative who has consistently sided with her student constituency and has been critical to several un-democratic and anti-student policies.
Upon the implementation of the UP Charter of 2008, the administration caused months of delay in the selection of a new Student Regent by insisting on the requirement of referendum of the rules for student regent selection despite standing rules that have adequately ensured the selection of a new Student Regent for a decade.
In April, cases were then lodged against SR Bañez right after the day of her selection by all student councils in an attempt to prevent her from assuming her post. The BOR then arbitrarily invoked its “right” to prescribe rules for its own government (UP Charter, Section 13 t) and required SR Bañez to submit an audited financial report of UPLB University Student Council 2008-2009. They also forced SR Bañez to comply with the public apology ordered by the UPLB Student Disciplinary Tribunal.
Both BOR requirements can never be found in the UP Charter nor the Codified Rules on Student Regent Selection yet the arbitrary BOR requirements effectively denied the students of a new Student Regent for almost three months as SR Bañez was only sworn in last July 2009. To advance their agenda of placing Malacañang’s bet in the PGH and the microprivatization of the public hospital, Roman and her clique are now desperate to remove SR Bañez from the BOR.
Roman-Malacañang bloc conflicting itself
The attempt of the Roman-Malacañang bloc to marginalize the Student Regent has in effect exposed their arbitrary and selfish character.
In three instances, the Roman-Malacañang bloc has arrogantly invoked Section 13 t of the UP Charter to create rules for the appointment of the sectoral regents. For the Faculty and Staff Regents, both were required to resign their posts in their respective Unions before they were sworn in. Despite the majority decision of the BOR to allow the SR to participate and vote in the PGH directorship issue during the December 18 BOR Meeting, the Roman-Malacañang bloc is questioning the process they willingly participated in only after unexpectedly losing the vote on the PGH directorship.
The urgency of unity
The call for all Iskolars ng Bayan and their different organizations and institutions to unite and resolutely struggle against the blatant assault to student representation in the BOR is of utmost urgency and importance. Yet, the students must remain guarded against opportunism by partisan organizations which attempt to posture as concerned to the crisis brought about by the brazen attack on the OSR of the Roman-Malacañang gang. They feign concern but their actions reveal their partisan motives.
The recycled proposal to amend the Codified Rules and Student Regent Selection is nothing but a cheap attempt to resuscitate amendments that were rejected by an overwhelming majority of UP students nationwide who participated in the successful referendum.
Re-affirm solid support
The Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa U.P., the broadest and most
comprehensive alliance of student councils in the U.P. System, re-affirms its continued recognition of and support to Student Regent Bañez.
The crisis brought about by the evident abandonment of the government to sustain UP and the education sector demands our unceasing and concerted actions. The time calls for us to march and advance the students’ demand for a mass-oriented and accessible education.
The Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa U.P. vows to place itself at the forefront of the struggle in defense of student representation and the OSR!
Assert Our Student Demands!
Defend the OSR!
Defend Our Lone Representation in the BOR!
End Commercialization and Privatization of UP!
Uphold Democratic Governance in UP!
Resist Roman-Malacañang Tyranny in the BOR!
Statement of UPD political party Alyansa, Feb. 4