Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Dearth of Nominees for the U.P. Presidency thus far is revealed at the Sixth U.P. Sectoral Regents' Forum

(Dr. Ma. Serena Diokno with U.P. President
Emerlinda R. Roman, DBA)

(U.P. Diliman Chancellor Sergio S. Cao, Ph.D.)

(Dr. Patrick T. Azanza)

By Chanda Shahani

Only three individuals have emerged so far to throw their hats in the ring in the search for the next President of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) to replace outgoing U.P. President Emerlinda Roman whose term ends on February 9, 2011 according to information gathered by the Diliman Diary during the Sixth U.P. Sectoral Regents' Forum held at Faculty Center, U.P. Diliman on August 11, 2010.

The three individuals are U.P. Diliman Chancellor Sergio S. Cao, U.P. Diliman History Professor Ma. Serena Diokno and U.P. Diliman College of Education Senior Lecturer, Dr. Patrick Azanza

Dr. Cao is a professor of business administration from the U.P. Diliman College of Business Administration (CBA), Dr. Diokno was former Vice President for Academic Affairs of the U.P. System and Dr. Azanza is concurrently the CEO of WinSource Business Solutions.

“We need more nominations. Please encourage more people to send in more nominations. There is no need to get the immediate consent of the nominee, as the U.P. Administration itself will contact the nominees to find out if they agree to accept the nominations,” said Faculty Regent, Judy Taguiwalo, who along with Student Regent Cori Alessa Co and Staff Regent Clodualdo “Buboy” Cabrera, organized the forum.

According to Regent Taguiwalo, as of August 6, 2010, only Chancellor Cao and Dr. Diokno were confirmed nominees. However, Dr. Azanza, who attended the forum, confirmed to the Diliman Diary that his nomination was being submitted to the BOR, which is acting as the Seartch Committee for the next U.P. President.

The criteria for the selection of the next U.P. President and the procedure for the submission of nominations can be found at the U.P. website at:

The last search process for the U.P. President in 2004, which ended with Dr. Roman being selected by the BOR in 2005 produced a total of eleven (11) nominees including Dr. Roman (

Former Student Regent Marco de Los Reyes who cast his vote in 2004 in favour of Dr. Roman was the resource person. He shared the criteria, process and experience in the previous search. Staff Regent Clodualdo Cabrera provided the rationale and objectives of the Sectoral Regents fora while Student Regent Cori Alessa Co presented the criteria for nominations, the process and schedules for the 2010 Search for the Next UP President while Faculty Regent Taguiwalo made the Synthesis and Closing Remarks. The Emcees were U.P. Diliman's University Student Council Chairperson Rainier Astin Sindayen and All U.P. Academic Employees Union General Secretary Professor Melania Lagahit-Abad.

The objectives of the forum were to help prepare the informed participation of the university sectors in the search process through the sharing of information and experiences and to elicit suggestions and comments related to the selection process.

Former Student Regent de Los Reyes said that the search process is a chance for democratic governance as well as a chance to practice democracy. He said that while he voted for Roman, the issues in 2004 essentially boiled down to the BOR's having to choose between an acceptable U.P. insider such as Dr. Roman over former Ambassador Edgardo Espiritu, who was seen as an the personal choice of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, an unpopular president; and who embodied Malacañang interference in U.P.'s much-cherished academic freedom.

He said that despite the passage of the U.P. Charter (R.A. 9500) in 2008, which brought down the number of Malacañang Regents from five to three and added a Staff Regent, the governance structure still remains the same. Moreover, the U.P. Charter under Roman demonstrates how powerful a U.P. President could become. He also said that he is forecasting that the selection of the next U.P. President will “show cliques at play.”

He said that in the eleven-person BOR, former U.P. President Edgardo J. Angara and now Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture and who represents the Senate in the U.P. Board of Regents will be joined by his son, Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (Aurora, LDP) who sits in the BOR by virtue of his position as Chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education. The two Angaras represent a voting bloc not sympathetic to President Benigno S. Aquino III, and would be expected to vote according to other relationships they have developed within the BOR itself.

Moreover, a breakdown of the votes by the Diliman Diary shows that Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and BOR Chairperson Patricia Licuanan is currently the only representative of the new administration since the three “Malacañang Regents” - Regent Abraham Sarmiento, Regent Francis Chua and Regent Nelia Gonzalez were reappointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before the constitutional ban on midnight appointments kicked in on March 10, 2010. While Executive Order (E.O.) # 2 of President Aquino effectively overturns all midnight appointments as defined by certain criteria (See Diliman Diary, August 4, 2010:, R.A. 9500 itself allows the Malacañang Regents to simply renominate themselves to President Aquino for reappointment, thus allowing themselves to reinvent themselves as Aquino appointees. In reality, however, observers say that the three Malacañang Regents are close allies of President Roman and can be expected to vote for her personal choice for the next U.P. President.

The three sectoral regents – Faculty Regent Taguiwalo, Student Regent Co and Staff Regent Cabrera can be expected to vote along certain set principles and ethics that reflect the common concerns of their constituencies and can be assumed to constitute a voting bloc in their own right.

The Alumni Regent – Alfredo Reyes – has an independent voting record and can be considered a wild card in the votes cast for the next U.P. President.

If the two Angaras close ranks with the Roman bloc, then a minimum number of six votes will have been reached to constitute a majority to elect the next U.P. President.

Conventional wisdom would indicate that Roman would favour Chancellor Cao, a colleague of hers from CBA, but who is actually a professor of mathematics from the U.P. Diliman College of Science (before he switched to CBA), and who was groomed by his more senior colleagues within CBA to assume a series of high-level positions within the U.P. System.

But it is more complex than that. The history of the last five U.P. Presidents would illustrate there are several interlocking relationships that link themselves backwards from the Presidency of Dr. Roman (2005 to the present), Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. (1999-2005), Emil Q. Javier (1993-1999) and Jose V. Abueva (1987-1999). These relationships are based on professional relationships, ties through blood and marriage and also fraternity relations. The combined impact of all these relationships indicate that Dr. Diokno and Chancellor Cao may actually be co-nominees representing the same convergence of voting blocs.

For example, there is a clear University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB) bloc involved that transcends the current BOR composition. Dr. Roman graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from U.P. Los Baños while Regent Nelia Gonzales is a leading member of the UPLB Alumni Association. Former U.P. President Emil Q. Javier taught at UPLB for many years. Even Senator Angara is a graduate of UPLB. On another level, former President Nemenzo is the second cousin of former U.P. President Abueva. On yet another level, former President Abueva's son, Jonas is married to President Roman's daughter, Regina. However, President Abueva was a close professional colleague of Dr. Diokno when he was U.P. President and she was Associate Dean of U.P. Diliman's College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (1992-1998). Dr. Diokno was the Director of the Third World Studies Center (1995-1999) which was founded by former President Nemenzo in 1976 when he was the Dean of the then College of Arts and Sciences of U.P. Diliman. The TWSC was founded, along ideological lines,  to "gradually reinsert radical thinking into a severely traumatized university environment," according to author Patricio N. Abinales in an essay written in the book, "Revisiting Marxism in the Philippines" (Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2010).

But perhaps the convergence of interests between seemingly ideological opposites repesented by former President Nemenzo (an avowed Marxist) and Dr. Roman (who holds a doctorate in business administration from U.P. Diliman and has been at the forefront of commercializing U.P. assets) is best illustrated by narrowing in on key members of Pan Xenia fraternity of U.P. Diliman, which is is “an International Honorary Fraternity dedicated to the promotion of interests in foreign trade and the establishment of higher standards and ideals of business ethics” and counts among its fraternity alumni former President Nemenzo, three other former U.P. Presidents, Onofre D. Corpuz, Emmanuel V. Soriano and Carlos P. Romulo and eleven deans of the CBA (1929 to 1998: before two women deans headed the CBA – former Dean Elvira Zamora (1999 to 2001) and former Dean Erlinda Echanis (2001 to 2010), who was replaced by the current CBA Dean, Dr. Ben Paul B. Gutierrez. The CBA faculty therefore represent another imortant clique within the structure, but so do the so-called "radicals" represented by Dr. Nemenzo and Dr. Diokno.

The blurring of the seeming ideological divide was best symbolized when President Nemenzo who was set to retire on February 8, 2005 made an impassioned plea to the BOR in favour of Dr. Roman, which had the result of breaking a series of split votes between Roman and Espiritu which resulted in a vote of 7-5 in favour of Roman, who was then selected as the U.P. President.
Dr. Diokno does not suffer the handicap that former Ambassador Espiritu did of being seen as an outsider who was an unpopular president's choice. Like Chancellor Cao she is a career academician and a consummate insider who enjoys the support of the convergence of interlocking interests currently running the U.P. System.

However, nominees such as Dr. Azanza and others who are outsiders to the interlocking interests represented by Dr. Diokno and Chancellor Cao still have an even chance of getting a real democratic decision by the BOR on each of their cases even if the three Malacañang Regents refuse to step down voluntarily and resign as E.O. # 2 already provides for their automatic removal and even if the affected BOR members renominate themselves, President Aquino is not obligated to act on the nominations if there are other competing nominations to the BOR by President Aquino coming in from other quarters outside the BOR.

Admittedly, there is one other wild card. It is the Supreme Court, which in a related development, has turned down the petitions of Justice Assistant Secretary Jose Arturo de Castro and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority director Eddie Tamondong for a restraining order (TRO) on Executive Order # 2, which revoked the midnight appointments made by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The SC did not immediately issue a TRO but ordered Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr, the sole respondent in the petitions for a TRO, to comment on the separate petitions of de Castro and Tamondong for a non-extendible period of 10 days.

This means Malacañang could proceed with the implementation of EO # 2, which was signed by President Benigno Aquino III on July 30.

Meanwhile, Student Regent Co said in the forum that the Call for Nominations which began on 15 July 2010 will end on 25 August 2010 with the Evaluation and Screening of Nominees on 27 August 2010.

(Chanda Shahani is the Editor of the Diliman Diary)

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