Monday, February 1, 2010

The U.P. Board of Regents' Clash of Civilizations: Democracy vs. Victory-at-any-Cost?

                                    (Artwork by: Pam Liban)

The Diliman Diary has been furnished with several letters and position statements from the Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo, Staff Regent Clodualdo “Buboy” Cabrera, Student Regent Charisse Bernadine Bañez  and concerned U.P. Faculty, Reps, and Staff over the issues of the opposition by the U.P. Administration of the eligibility to vote in the U.P. Board of Regents of Student Regent Bañez.

Other issues hanging in the balance and depending on Bañez's eligibility to vote are  the selection of Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as Executive Director of U.P. PGH, the unresolved appeal of U.P. Diliman Sociology Professor Sarah Raymundo to the Board of Regents to grant her tenure, and the validity of the appointment of 27 individuals by the BOR last December 18, 2009 with the official title of Artist with corresponding grades or ranks. The appointment of the U.P. Artists was announced officially by the U.P. Administration on its own website last December 18, 2009 at:

The letters and position statements have been provided by Faculty Regent Taguiwalo through Silverio Cabellon, Jr., M.D., Chair of the Board of Governors of The University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Association (UPMASA).

In view of significant reader interest on the matter, we are posting the letters and position statements below without comment because they are compelling enough to make them rise above mere "propaganda." However. in light of our policy of providing balanced content, we will also provide updates of the side of the U.P. Administration and other important viewpoints as they are made available.

Here are the letters and position statements:

JANUARY 29, 2010

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.


Offices of the Faculty, Staff and Student Regents
University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City

Protest Against Deliberate Refusal of President Emerlinda R. Roman to Install Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as the PGH Director, Duly Elected by the Board of Regents January 6, 2010

We, the Regents representing the faculty, staff and students of the University, call upon all concerned members of the University of the Philippines community, particularly those from the Philippine General Hospital, to express their united condemnation of President Emerlinda R. Roman’s illegal, undemocratic and unfair refusal to install Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as the PGH Director who was duly elected by the Board of Regents last December 18, 2009. We call upon everyone to protest this blatant violation of the University’s standards of good governance.

We wish to remind President Roman that the Board of Regents at its December 18, 2009 meeting duly elected Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as director of the Philippine General Hospital. The Office of the Secretary of the University in its January 4, 2010 notification of the decisions of the BOR on appointments of UP officials included the appointment of Dr. Gonzales as PGH director.

Despite these facts, President Emerlinda R. Roman issued Memorandum No. PERR-2010-001, dated January 5, 2010, appointing Chancellor Ramon L. Arcadio as Officer-in-Charge of PGH. This memorandum cannot supercede a BOR decision and is therefore in direct defiance of the BOR. President Roman cannot fill up a position that is not vacant. We shall be taking steps to hold President Roman legally liable for possible violation of the University Charter that she is obligated by her oath of office to uphold

We acknowledge that one Regent has expressed his intention to protest the election of Dr. Gonzales. The presence of such protest, however, cannot overturn the decision already made by the BOR. By refusing to implement a duly approved decision of the BOR, President Roman has prejudged by herself alone an issue that should also be decided by the BOR as a body at its regular meeting. She has no legal or practical justification to withhold implementation of a BOR decision as the term of the previous PGH Director has already expired

We regard President Roman’s January 5 memorandum refusing to implement a BOR decision to appoint Dr. Gonzales as PGH Director as a very dangerous precedent. Here is one individual member of the Board, by the mere issuance of a memorandum, exercising a power that effectively frustrates the implementation of a duly authorized decision by the BOR.

We should not allow such autocratic actions to be exercised without resistance. We call for the immediate withdrawal of said memorandum and for the recognition of Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as the duly elected PGH Director starting January 1, 2010.

Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo (SGD) Staff Regent Clodualdo “Buboy” Cabrera (SGD)
Student Regent Charisse Bernadine Bañez (SGD)


What happened during the January 29, 2010 UP BOR meeting?

Judy M. Taguiwalo
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” 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. [1] 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.


[1] Senator Mar Roxas and Rep. Cynthia Villar voted through signed letters sent to Chairman Angeles and President Roman, respectively.

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