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Chancellor Dr. Luis Rey I. Velasco is now an official nominee for the position of President of the University of the Philippines. In a letter addressed to the UP Board of Regents Search Committee for the UP President on August 20, University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB) college deans unanimously pushed for the nomination of Chancellor Velasco. All 11 University deans cited Chancellor Velasco's "integrity, academic qualifications, and his effectiveness as an administrator for over 16 years" as basis for their strong recommendation. They were also one in saying that the Chancellor is "a dedicated leader, a visionary, an inspiration and a role model," according to the official website of UPLB (http://www.uplb.edu.ph/index.php/news/315-chancellor-velasco-nominated-for-up-president).
However, Chancellor Velasco and the U.P. Administration are also remembered for their role in dragging their collective feet in updating the expired enrollment papers of former Student Regent Charisse Bañez such that her swing vote in favor of selecting the new director of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH,) Director Jose Gonzalez was neutralized, allowing the Board of Regents (BOR) to reverse its own decision in favor of Dr. Enrique Domingo (Please see the Diliman Diary on February 27, 2010: http://diliman-diary.blogspot.com/2010/02/day-of-long-knives.html). Bañez, a UPLB student, fell under the jurisdiction of Chancellor Velasco with respect to enrollment matters.
Subsequent protests from the U.P. Community over the simultaneous ouster of Bañez and Gonzalez, involving U.P. Diliman, U.P. Manila, U.P. Los Baños and even other autonomous units of the university reflected the displeasure of many sectors in the university over the undemocratic governance of the administration of U.P. President Emerlinda R. Roman over the University System. Many of Roman's key allies, such as Dr. Velasco, U.P. Diliman Chancellor Sergio Cao and U.P. Diliman History Professor Dr. Ma. Serena Diokno ( a former Vice President for Academic Affairs) have been officially nominated for U.P. President and are seen as the strongest contenders so far since the U.P. Administration continues to defend key midnight appointments made by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo favoring the three Malacañang regents at the BOR and who refuse to step down despite newly installed President Benigno S. Aquino III's issuance of Executive Order # 2, essentially withdrawing midnight appointments made by President Arroyo.
The BOR is the body that selects the U.P. President and with the three regents clinging on to their positions, they are likely to vote together with President Roman, for a Roman ally, thus maximizing the chance to select a new U.P. President and also maximizing the chances of Roman, who is stepping down when her term ends in February, 2011, to continue to dominate University policies through proxies long after she has stepped down.
On March 24, 2010 a mass action composed of mostly students from U.P. Diliman and medical personnel from PGH who were protesting the removal of former Student Regent Bañez and Dr. Gonzales, disrupted a BOR meeting, leading to no quorum at all. At the height of protests, UPLB Chancellor Velasco was pelted with paintball,s, the video of which we have re-embedded above (To see the Diliman Diary's coverage of this event, please click on: http://diliman-diary.blogspot.com/2010/03/up-board-of-regents-march-24-meeting-at.html).
Chancellor Velasco is also remembered for the implementation of the Large Class Size Mode for general education classes at UPLB which dovetailed with President Roman's vision for making U.P. a "more efficient university," but which encountered vigorous opposition from certain quarters in UPLB who wre concerned that larger class sizes were not appopriate for certain foundation courses such as English which required more interactivity for students to learn better and also added to the overall work load of teachers who had to grade more papers.
Chancellor Velasco's nomination also highlights the importance of the UPLB faction as part of a broader coalition of converging factions (See Diliman Diary, August 12, 2010: http://diliman-diary.blogspot.com/2010/08/dearth-of-nominees-for-up-presidency-is.html). At this stage, it also appears that nominees affiliated with the administration of outgoing U.P. President Emerlinda R. Roman, such as Chancellor Velasco, Chancellor Cao and Dr. Diokno are the only ones who have boldly come out in the open in declaring their candidacies with the possible exception of Dr. Patrick T. Azanza, a senior lecturer at U.P. Diliman's College of Education, who has emerged as the only challenger to the Roman bloc so far. However, the BOR-imposed deadline for submission of nomination is August 25, 2010, and other nominees may yet emerge.
However, as a career academician and professional administrator, Chancellor Velasco also appears to have earned the praise of his deans at UPLB as can be evidenced by the nomination they have signed and which is embedded below:
(To enlarge the scans, just click on them)