Wednesday, March 24, 2010

U.P. Board of Regents March 24 meeting at Quezon Hall is disrupted by U.P. Students leading to no quorum at all

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Students from the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) today merged their protest actions to seek emergency allocation from the government for state colleges and universities, a press statement released by the Office of Kabataan Kabataan Party-list Rep. Mong Palatino and other reports said today.

UP students from the Diliman, Los Banos, Baguio and Manila campuses held a rally this morning to block the UP Board of Regents from approving additional fees in the university, including a P100 hike in PE fees and P1,000 to P2,500 per unit hike in graduate classes.

The students were able to successfully block two UP regents from entering Quezon Hall resulting in a lack of quorum for the BOR meeting. This was independently confirmed by Staff Regent Clodualdo "Buboy" Cabrera in a text statement sent to the Diliman Diary.

Even U.P. Los Banos Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco was not spared. He was splashed with paint by irate students for his role in denying Student Regent Charisse Banez permission to enroll in continuing residency which is a precondition for her to continue fulfilling her functions as U.P.'s Student Regent.

According to Rain Sindayen, Chairperson-elect of the UP Diliman University Student Council, “This is an initial victory for UP students. The main issue here is that the BOR has no right to table or vote on the proposed fees in the absence of a student representative in the BOR.” The UP BOR unjustly ousted UP Student Regent Charice Banez last month on trumped up technicalities. As a result, students have been stripped of representation in the BOR.

By lunchtime, the UP students welcomed the contingent from 21 PUP campuses nationwide in a rally in front of the Commission on Higher Education office inside the UP campus to protest the 1,700 percent tuition hike proposal in PUP.

Sindayen said, “They have done it in UP but we will not allow the passing of the absurd tuition hike in PUP. We call on all Iskolars ng Bayan to unite.” The UP BOR had already increased tuition in UP in 2006 from P300 to P1,000 per unit.

The U.P. Administration gives its side

Meanwhile, the U.P. Administration gave its version of events which it headlined in the government-owned and tax-payer-funded U.P. System website (

"A meeting of the University of the Philippines’ Board of Regents was scheduled for 9 a.m. March 24. It did not take place because the entrances were blocked by around 150 protesters."

"The main issues being raised by the protesters were: the disqualification of Ms. Charisse Bañez as Student Regent because she is neither enrolled nor on leave as required by the students’ internal rules; and the nullification of the election of Dr. Jose Gonzalez as director of the Philippine General Hospital."

"These matters have been brought to the courts by the interested parties themselves, and the courts are hearing the cases."

"According to Vice President for Legal Affairs Theodore Te, UP respects the right to protest but has the duty to ensure the safety of the Regents. The main reason for the cancellation of the meeting was the possibility of physical injury to the Regents."

"Speeches had become inflammatory. The car of one regent was blocked and paint was hurled at it. The Chancellor of UP Los Baños was assaulted as he alighted from his car in the parking lot in front of Quezon Hall. Paint was thrown at his person and at his car. He was pushed by one protester."

Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo told the Diliman Diary in a text message that only U.P. President Emerlinda Roman and Malacañang Regent Nelia Gonzales were actually able to make it to the BOR board room. The other two Malacañang regents, Abraham Sarmiento and Francis Chua were prevented by students from entering into Quezon Hall.

"The students said, "No student representative, No BOR meeting," Regent Taguiwalo said, in apparent reference to the February 25 decision of the BOR to nullify the right of Student Regent Charisse Bañez to vote in any BOR meeting beginning with the December 18, 2009 BOR meeting.

Emergency budget allocation

“We demand an emergency budget allocation for state colleges and universities to prevent these tuition increases from being implemented. Poor budget allocation for state colleges and universities has resulted in school administrations’ passing on the burden to students,” said Vencer Crisostomo, Kabataan Partylist Secretary-General.

Crisostomo said that the past ten years saw a consistent decrease in the budget allocation for SUCs in line with the state policy of privatization and commercialization of education. “The government has been gradually washing its hands off of the responsibility to subsidize public education. As a result, SUCs are resorting to income-generating schemes and commercial ventures with private entities at the expense of students,” Crisostomo said.

“UP, for instance, requested for P18 billion in the 2010 budget but was granted barely P6 billion. PUP, on the other hand, suffered another budget slash from its 2009 budget at P704 million to P661 million in 2010,” Crisostomo said.

All major SUCs, he added, have zero budgets for capital outlay which is supposed to be earmarked for their operational expenses. “To compensate for these losses, school administrations are hiking tuitions. An emergency allocation for SUCs is imperative to stop tuition hikes,” he said.

Meanwhile, almost 250 private schools have also submitted their proposal to the CHED for tuition hikes as high as 20 percent.

A nationwide protest against tuition increases is set on March 29, coinciding with the PUP BOR meeting scheduled to approve the PUP tuition hike.

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