Friday, February 5, 2010

The Empire Strikes Back: The U.P. Administration Breaks its Recent Silence on the Issue of the Student Regent

                    Darth Vader: “You Don’t Know the Power of the Dark Side!”
                               From: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Editor's Note:

In line with its policy of balanced coverage, the Diliman Diary is posting below the official and unedited statement of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Administration with respect to the issue of the Student Regent Charisse B. Bañez as posted on its website at on February 4, 2010. We have given equal coverage to the proponents of the eligibility of Student Regent Bañez to vote in earlier posts.

We do so, because our readers would require nothing less and would want nothing but access to as much information as possible before making up their minds on this burning issue which has consequences on other issues that are up for decision by the U.P. Board of Regents.  Thus the single question of the eligibility of Student Regent Bañez to vote in the last BOR meeting dated December 18, 2009 and subsequent BOR meetings thereafter will have a large impact in view of the fact that the potential elimination of Bañez's eligibility to vote effectively amounts to a hung jury in the selection and thus appointment of Dr. Jose C. Gonzales as Executive Director of U.P. PGH.

Considering that six (6) Regents including Bañez voted for the selection of Dr. Gonzales, and five (5) Regents voted for outgoing PGH Executive Director Dr. Carmelo Alfiler, then if Bañez's elimination is sustained upon appeal and beyond the U.P. Executive Department's mere say-so, then the vote is now 5-5 and the conditions exist for Quezon Hall to unilaterally appoint another individual who did not necessarily win the original vote.

However, questions have been raised that if Bañez would be eliminated as a voting member of the BOR; would this not also invalidate the appointment of 27 individuals who were recommended for the rank of U.P. Artist as approved by the BOR on December 18, 2009? The answer to this rests on how many Regents voted in favour of the U.P. Artists and this needs clarification. Another issue that remains unresolved with the existence of what effectively amounts to a hung jury within the BOR is the pending appeal of U.P. Diliman Department of Sociology Sarah Raymundo to the BOR for tenure after this appeal was denied by U.P. President Emerlinda Roman and U.P. Diliman Chancellor Sergio Cao.

The Diliman Diary will continue to provide updates to this story as it continues to develop.



Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Student Regent and the Issue of Due Process

A question has been raised to the effect that the Student Regent was deprived of due process when the issue of her qualification to continue as Student Regent was taken up by the Board of Regents in its December 18, 2009 meeting.

During this meeting the BOR Chair asked Ms. Charisse Bañez whether she was enrolled for the second semester 2009-2010. She replied that she wasn’t. She was then asked why she had not enrolled, and she replied that she was in Manila at the time and could not go to UP Los Baños because of her tight schedule.

This meeting took place a month after the deadline for late registration in UP Los Baños (November 17). Clearly therefore, Ms. Bañez was neither enrolled nor on leave of absence during the meeting. These two grounds (plus “permanent disqualification from the University”) constitute the bases for considering the position of Student Regent vacant.

Because she was neither enrolled nor on leave, Ms. Bañez ceased to be a UP student, and therefore ceased to be Student Regent.

There is a precedent for the disqualification of a UP Student Regent. In its 1134th meeting on August 26, 1999, the Board of Regents decided that since Mr. Ferdinand Zafranco had been deemed permanently disqualified from UP for failing all his academic subjects, he ceased to be the Student Regent. He was replaced by Mr. Dennis Longid.

The Protest Filed by Regent Abraham Sarmiento

The protest filed by Regent Abraham Sarmiento has been described as “irregular” because it involves the nullification of the decisions made by the BOR on December 18, including the appointment of the PGH Director.

Before the adjournment of the December 18 meeting, Regent Sarmiento said that he was going to protest the appointment of the PGH Director. It was clear then that the basis for his protest was the Student Regent’s having voted on the matter when in fact she was no longer qualified to be Student Regent.

It has been argued that the Board of Regents decided on her fate when the motion for her to sit as observer was defeated. It is precisely this which is the “prayer” of Regent Sarmiento’s protest letter. This letter reads partially thus:

“I pray accordingly that:

The protest be hereby given due course, and the election of Dr. Jose G. 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 Bañez, was allowed to vote for Dr. Gonzalez giving him winning margin.

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

There is no irregularity involved here. Regent Sarmiento had indicated his intention to file the protest as early as December. The protest was included in the agenda of the January 29 meeting (III, A). This Agenda was unanimously approved by the Board. It therefore came as a surprise to the rest of the Board when some regents chose to leave the meeting when the protest was being taken up, resulting in the absence of a quorum.

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