Monday, March 1, 2010

OP-ED: The Day of the Long Knives (Part 2): U.P. Faculty Regent Narrates Events leading to Feb. 25 ouster of U.P. PGH Executive Director Jose Gonzales

By Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo

My Report on the 25 February 2010 UP Board of Regents Meeting
Judy M. Taguiwalo, Faculty Regent
March 1, 2010

1) The 25 February 2010 meeting of the Board of Regents was attended by the following: CHED Chair Emmanuel Angeles, President Emerlinda R. Roman, Regent Cynthia Villar, Justice Abraham Sarmiento, Regent Nelia Gonzales, Regent Francis Chua, Alumni Regent Alfredo Pascual, Student Regent Charisse Bernadine Bañez, Staff Regent Clodualdo Cabrera and myself. Only Regent Mar Roxas was absent.

2) When the Chair moved for the approval of the agenda, I made a point of order and moved that the Board first discuss immediate but non-contentious items in the Agenda prior to approving the minutes of the previous meeting and discussing matters arising from the meeting. I explained that there were issues regarding the qualifications of four of the sitting members of the Board which may require thorough deliberations and leave little time for approving urgent but non-contentious items in the agenda. There was an initial objection to my motion but eventually I was asked to withdraw my motion to be replaced by the motion of the UP President to discuss all items in the agenda except for contentious issues which were then enumerated.

3) The following were immediately approved: Policy matters for the approval of the board (except for the UP Policy Paper on Awards); Appointments of University Officials (Chancellor of Open U, Dean of College of Education, Dean of Institute of Small Scale Industries, both of UP Diliman); Confirmation of appointments of UP artists, appointments of faculty and staff, graduation of students (except those with pending cases), establishment of professorial chairs/grants, memoranda of agreement.

4) After the approval of the above, the minutes of the January 29 BOR meeting was approved with the correction made by Alumni Regent Alfredo Pascual that he was in the comfort room, and was not physically present when the motion of Pres. Roman “that the student not be allowed to participate in the meeting given that she has not complied with the qualifications to continue as a Student Regent” was voted upon. By that time, only the Chair, the 3 Malacanang appointees and President Roman were seated around the meeting table. I had left the meeting earlier, followed by the Staff Regent and the Student Regent. Hence the voting occurred with only five (5) regents actually participating.

5) After the approval of the minutes, I raised a motion for reconsideration of the January 29 decision disqualifying the Student Regent on the grounds that her appeal for late filing of residency remains with UPLB and that there is documentary evidence that a UPLB student who enrolled for residency in the middle of February 2010 was allowed to do so.

The motion was denied after VP for Legal Affairs Theodore Te said that the case of the SR was sub judice (i.e. currently being deliberated in court) as she has a pending complaint in the RTC against her disqualification and that the SR’s request for a temporary restraining order vis-à-vis the Board’s decision to disallow her to sit as a regular member of the Board in the February 25 meeting was denied by the court. The BOR Chair then recalled his written invitation to the SR to attend as observer and asked her to leave the room. I still cannot understand why UPLB Chancellor Rey Velasco continues to deny the appeal of the Student Regent for late filing of residency as it had been granted to other students of UPLB similarly situated. Neither has President Roman advised the UPLB Chancellor to grant the appeal as it would ensure continued student representation in the BOR and allow the process of the selection of the next Student Regent to start. The next SR is supposed to be selected by April 2010, meaning the current SR has only two more BOR meetings to attend before her term ends.

6) I also raised the issue of the legitimacy of the three Malacanang-appointed regents, Abraham Sarmiento, Nelia Gonzales and Francis Chua. They were appointed as “acting regents by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on September 2008, March 2008 and January 1, 2008, respectively. According to Section 16 and 17 of Chapter 5, Title I, Book III of the Administrative Code of 1987 (EO 292), the President of the Philippines has the power to “issue temporary designations” but “(i)n no case shall a temporary designation exceed one (1) year.”).

VP Te explained that this issue could not be tackled by the BOR because the status of the three is included in the court case of the SR and any discussion would be considered as sub judice. Furthermore he averred that “temporary designation” is different from an acting appointment based on Supreme Court rulings. (After the meeting, a lawyer whom I consulted sent to me the following excerpt from Pimentel vs. Ermita (GR 164978, 13 October 2005), that “acting appointments cannot exceed one year as expressly provided in Section 17(3), Chapter 5, Title I, Book III of EO 292”. This decision clearly does not differentiate temporary and acting appointments.) The Chair then denied my motion. So during the whole process of deliberations made by the BOR, the three Malacanang Regents with expired appointments remained as regular voting members. I made sure that prior to any voting I put on record my objection to the participation of the three Regents on the grounds that their appointments have already expired.

7) Chairman Angeles then stated that the Board should recommend to Malacanang that the three regents be given regular appointments. It was President Roman who made the motion to do so. The Alumni and Staff Regents asked that such recommendation be deferred until the next meeting to allow time for consulting the various university constituents to forward other names for the positions. The motion of President Roman was passed with Regent Villar, the three Malacanang appointees and herself voting for the motion. The Alumni, Staff and Faculty Regents voted against the motion.

8) The main highlight of the February 25 BOR meeting, after the Student Regent was disqualified, was the matter arising from the minutes of the January 29 meeting titled “Interpretation of the Decision of the Board to act on the Protest of Regent Abraham Sarmiento”. “Regent” Gonzales moved that the Board revisit the decision appointing Dr. Jose Gonzales as PGH Director, on the grounds that the voting in December was limited only to two nominees (Dr. Alfiler and Dr. Gonzales) when there was a third nominee, Dr. Enrique Domingo. When I stated that what I recalled was that Pres. Roman and Chancellor Arcadio at the December 18 meeting said that Dr. Domingo was not qualified as he did not have tenure, President Roman denied saying such and said non-tenured personnel can be appointed as Director of PGH. Since there was no transcript of that portion of the Dec 18 BOR meeting which was declared an executive session, there was no way of verifying what was actually said during that meeting.

I objected to the motion of “Regent” Gonzales, stating that the board cannot remove an official who has taken his oath of office, except for cause. The Staff Regent and Alumni Regent supported my objection. When the motion was put to a vote, Pres. Roman, “Regents” Sarmiento, Gonzales and Chua voted in favor of the motion, the Alumni, Staff and Faculty Regents voted against and Regent Villar abstained.

With the motion carried, the Regents were then asked to vote from among Dr. Alfiler, Domingo and Gonzales for PGH Director. The Chair ruled that the voting be done in secret in spite of my proposal that it should be done viva voce in the interest of transparency. The Chair ruled that secret voting be done. The Alumni, Staff and Faculty Regents abstained from voting. The six written votes handed in by Chairman Angeles, President Roman, Regent Villar, “Regents” Sarmiento, Gonzales and Chua all went to Dr. Domingo. At this point, Staff Regent Cabrera asked the University Secretary if this was the first case in the history of the board that an appointed official was removed from office based on a revote. The Secretary answered yes.

9) There were two nominees for the UP Mindanao Chancellorship: the incumbent Chancellor Gilda Rivero and Prof. Benjamin Bagadion. The President endorsed Chancellor Rivero for a second term. The Staff Regent and I requested for a deferment of the selection as there was strong written opposition from faculty, students and staff to giving the current Chancellor another term. And that the Chancellor has still to answer the 19 February 2010 COA Audit Observation Memo (attachment B) that she spent a total of P643,800.67 for her 30 July 2007 investiture rites when the approved budget was only P372,216.00 thus exceeding by 72% the approved budget. The rest of the Board did not find this reason sufficient to defer the selection. President Roman, Regent Villar, “Regents” Sarmiento, Gonzales, Chua and the Alumni Regent voted for Dr. Rivero. The Staff Regent and I voted against her.

10) The items on “Other matters” were deferred for the 25 March 2010 BOR meeting. These items include the appeal for tenure of Prof. Sarah Raymundo, the appeal of UPLB faculty and students to hold in abeyance the full implementation of the large class policy, appeals of several staff, students and faculty related to disciplinary actions meted out to them and the endorsement of the Staff Regent of the petition of administrative staff and REPS for equity to the additional 10-day sick leave benefits granted to faculty.

Some clarifications:

1. The denial by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court of the request of the Student Regent for a temporary restraining order (TRO) applies to the implementation of the Board’s January 29 decision that she “not be allowed to participate in the meeting given that she has not complied with the qualification to continue as Student Regent”. This was the reason used by the “majority” of the Board when the SR was not allowed to participate in the February 25 BOR meeting or even sit as observer. The denial of the SR’s request for a TRO does not pass judgment on the decisions made in 18 December 2009 BOR meeting.

2. The question of the legitimacy of the status of the three Malacanang-appointed regents whose acting appointments have expired remains. The motion of President Roman to endorse the three to Malacanang for regular appointments as Regent only two weeks before the March 10 election prohibition on appointments smacks of the much-criticized practice of “midnight appointments” by Malacanang.


1. The day after the BOR meeting, President Roman went to UP Mindanao . She was met by protesting students, faculty and staff calling for an “end to the Roman empire”.

2. The day after the BOR meeting, UP Manila Chancellor Arcadio administered the oath of office to Dr. Enrique Domingo as PGH Director. The lawyer of Dr. Jose Gonzales then sent a letter to the Chancellor that a legal case will be filed against UP for declaring vacant a position filled by a qualified personnel and appointing another person to such position. The speed by which the Office of the Secretary of the University issued the notification of appointment of Dr. Domingo and the administration of his oath is in stark contrast to delay in the release of Dr. Gonzales’ appointment and the administration of his oath after the December 18 meeting.

Editor's note: Professor Taguiwalo's narrative has also been posted on:

(Judy M. Taguiwalo is the Faculty Regent and represents the University of the Philippines (U.P.) System Faculty at the U.P. Board of Regents. She is concurrently a professor at the College of Social Work and Community Development at U.P. Diliman).

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