Saturday, February 6, 2010

One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: U.P. Faculty Regent releases Copy of Roman memo on UP PGH Director

(To enlarge the picture just click on it)
(Source: Faculty Regent Judy Taguiwalo)

By Chanda Shahani

It's now confirmed. Quezon Hall tried to very aggressively reverse the selection by the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Board of Regents (BOR) of Dr. Jose C. Gonzales last December 18, 2009 as the next Executive Director of the Philippine General Hospital (U.P. PGH) by appointing an OIC and justifying the removal of a critical vote in favour of Dr. Gonzales – that of Student Regent Charisse B. Bañez – by claiming that she is neither a U.P. student nor a U.P. Student Regent.

This has elicited a firestorm of protest from several quarters, resulting in a flip-flopping by Quezon Hall on its attempt to appoint an OIC to replace Dr. Gonzales.

The Diliman Diary has just received a copy of Memorandum No. PERR-2010-001, issued by U.P. President Emerlinda R. Roman dated January 5, 2010, appointing Chancellor Ramon L. Arcadio as Officer-in-Charge of PGH (please see picture). This memo was emailed by Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo to the Diary.

An interpretation of the memo would show that BOR Chairman Eduardo Y. Angeles summersaulted on his tie-breaking vote cast in favour of Dr. Gonzales after the BOR received a December 23, 2009 letter of protest from Regent Abraham Sarmiento questioning Bañez's eligibility to vote as a Regent. Angeles did this by asking Roman to appoint Dr. Arcadio as PGH OIC, as the memo claims.

Adding to this deadly brew are two public statements posted by the U.P. Administration on its website – one on January 29, 2010 and the other on February 4, 2010 which openly challenge the legitimacy of the U.P. Student Regent. Observers question the timing of the public statements as they were both issued before the BOR had a chance to constitute a quorum to decide on the December 18 protest of Regent Abraham Sarmiento questioning Bañez's eligibility to vote as a Regent.

Bañez's vote is being seen as especially critical in the selection of the new Executive Director of PGH, as the term of office of the outgoing Executive Director, Dr. Carmelo Alfiler, expired last December 31, 2009. The BOR voted by a vote of six (6) to five (5) to select Dr. Gonzales

Last January 29, four Regents walked out of a BOR meeting set to discuss the protest of Regent Sarmiento, among other issues. These regents were: Faculty Regent, U.P. Professor Judy M. Taguiwalo, Staff Regent Clolualdo E. Cabrera, Alumni Regent Alfredo E. Pascual, and Student Regent Bañez. The walkout resulted in a lack of quorum, forcing the postponement of the meeting.

Faculty Regent Taguiwalo informed the Diliman Diary in an email that the December 18, 2009 BOR meeting resulted in a unanimous BOR decision to vote for the appointment of U.P. Artists. However, Bañez's vote is seen as being critical in other unresolved issues. “There are a number of pending concerns in the BOR which could go through the division of the house. These include the appointment of a new UP Mindanao Chancellor where there are two nominees including the incumbent and of course the appeal of (U.P. Diliman Sociology) Professor Sarah Raymundo.” Raymundo is appealing to the BOR the decision of President Roman denying her tenure.

The attempt by Quezon Hall to remove Bañez's eligibility to vote has come to symbolize the lack of a voice that U.P. students have in running the university.

An editorial of the Philippine Collegian, the official student newspaper of U.P. Diliman said that “we cannot afford not to have a student representative.”

“The delay in her (Bañez's) 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 (U.P. Los Baños) 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 BOR from UP Faculty, Students, REPS and Staff dated January 29, 2010 and entitled “The University in Crisis” said that,

“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.”

If Quezon Hall succeeds in removing Bañez as a voting Regent, then the position effectively remains vacant resulting in a realignment of the vote within the BOR as the Chairman of the BOR, Eduardo Y. Angeles, only votes in order to break a tie in a vote. If Bañez is removed, then the number of votes in favour of former PGH Executive Director Alfiler are five (5) and the votes for Executive Director Gonzales are four, considering that Chairman Angeles would only vote in the event of a tie, which would no longer be present.

The memo of President Roman states that the issuance of the appointment of Dr. Gonzales has been held in abeyance. This, however is belied by the facts on the ground. By all indications, Dr. Gonzales remains as U.P. PGH Executive Director – for now.

Despite the memo of President Roman, the website of the U.P. administration ( came out with a special feature on February 6, 2010 and entitled, “Normal Operations as Usual at PGH, says UP Manila Chancellor.” The feature said that:

“The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) is conducting normal operations, contrary to a GMANews.TV online report stating that the directorship row is paralyzing the country’s biggest government tertiary hospital. PGH is a unit under the general supervision of UP Manila.”

“UP Manila Chancellor Ramon Arcadio clarified that new PGH Director Jose Gonzales has been given a full appointment with a term that started January 1, 2010 to end on December 31, 2012. On January 7, Gonzales took his oath before Chancellor Arcadio in the presence of the UP Faculty and Staff Regents, UP Manila officials, and members of the All UP Workers Union. Prior to this oath taking, Gonzales was sworn in by UP Board of Regents Chair Emmanuel Angeles on December 21, 2009.”

“Gonzales was also informed by the Secretary of the University and the Board of Regents (BOR) that on Dec. 23, 2009, a Regent filed a letter of protest in connection with the selection of the PGH Director. This issue will be subsequently resolved by the BOR.”

“Since assuming his post, the new PGH director is fulfilling his regular duties. He nominated the hospital’s deputy directors whose appointments were approved by Chancellor Arcadio. They are Dr. Charlotte Chiong for Health Operations, Dr. Reynaldo Ang for Administration, Dr. Virgilio Novero for Fiscal Services, and Ms. Rita Tamse for Nursing Operations.”

“The process of appointing the chairs of the hospital’s 14 clinical departments is ongoing. Gonzales and UP College of Medicine Dean Alberto Roxas started interviewing nominees February 3. The new department chairs are expected to be appointed shortly.”

“Gonzales has also been attending usual activities at the university and the hospital, such as flag ceremonies, meetings, receiving visitors and gracing other events.”

“Every three years when a new director takes over, a transition period takes place when an outgoing director gives way to the incoming one. This is normal in any institution with or without a controversy,” the chancellor explained. “This is also the time when the new members of the executive team are appointed in preparation for a planning seminar to chart the institution’s thrusts and directions,” he added.

The chancellor also stated that, contrary to reports, patient services in all units of the hospital were never halted as a result of the controversy over the directorship.”

Dr. Gonzales is a renowned thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon and was the former Chair of the PGH Department of Surgery in 2001-2004. He is a member of the UP College of Medicine Alumni Class of 1972. He was former Director of the Regionalization Program of the UP College of Medicine.

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