Thursday, March 11, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Three (3) Malacañang Regents reappointed to the U.P. Board of Regents

Quezon Hall, U.P. Diliman

By Chanda Shahani

After several weeks of tense waiting for different groups contesting the positional legitimacies of several regents on the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Board of Regents (BOR), the Fat Lady has finally broken out into song.

The Malacañang-based Office of Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza has confirmed today to the Diliman Diary that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed several "midnight" or last-minute appointments for three regents to serve on the U.P. BOR before the constitutional ban on the President signing appointments kicked in on March 10, 2010.

Here are the details:
  • Regent Francis Chua's appointment was signed by President Arroyo on March 1, 2010 for a period of two (2) years.
  • Regent Abraham Sarmiento's appointment was signed by President Arroyo on March 9, 2010 but good only until September 29, 2010.
  • Regent Nelia Gonzales' appointment was signed by President Arroyo on March 9, 2010 for a period of two (2) years.
In a March 1, 2010 report, Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo previously raised the issue of the legitimacy of the three Malacañang appointed regents, during the February 25, 2010 BOR meeting, considering Regents Sarmiento, Gonzales and Chua were appointed as "acting" regents on September 29, 2008, March 18, 2008 and January 1, 2008 respectively by President Arroyo.

Regent Taguiwalo said that she put her objection on record during the February 25, 2010 meeting to the participation of the three Regents in BOR meetings after their respective terms expired after a period of one year.

Despie the March 2010 “midnight” appointments of President Arroyo for the same regents to serve again on the BOR, what is sure to be hotly contested in several courts of law are the decisions made by the BOR based on the votes cast by the three regents during the interregnum, or the period between when the regents' terms expired in 2009 and when they were renewed in March 2010.

The U.P. Administration is claiming that a unanimous vote of the BOR on February 25 resulted in the removal of PGH Executive Director Dr. Jose Gonzales, his replacement with Dr. Enrique Domingo, and the approval of a draft resolution voiding the legitimacy of Student Regent Bañez's right to vote from December 18, 2009 onwards on the grounds that she is no longer a student and therefore no longer a Student Regent.

All of these developments may be additional fuel for what is already a blazing fire within U.P. For example, taking the interregnum or the critical period into account when the “acting” regents with expired terms had not yet received their “midnight” appointments, then nine regents attended the February 25 BOR meeting but three regents - Staff Regent Clodualdo Cabrera, Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo and Alumni Regent Alfredo Pascual abstained from voting leaving six regents who particpated in the voting. However three regents had expired appointments at the time of the voting, meaning that only three regents with valid papers voted on February 25 which does not constitute a majority of the BOR.

These are the kinds of isues which may be taken up by Student Regent Charisse Bañez, who has filed a case against the U.P. Administration with Branch # 215 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court or even Executive Director Gonzales, who said he is consulting his lawyers on his case, possibly leading to a second lawsuit being filed against the U.P. Administration.

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