Friday, September 24, 2010

U.P.'s problems are ventilated by its very own nominees for U.P. President as they present their visions, and answer questions before critical audiences at UP Diliman and the rest of the U.P. System

 (The Oblation at U.P. Baguio)

By Chanda Shahani

Baguio City - Tough talk and frank admissions about the state of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) dominated presentations by eleven nominees for U.P. President who made their second out of a series of three presentations before a live audience in U.P. Diliman which was beamed online in interactive format to the other constituent universities within the U.P. System last September 24.

The nominees fora, which took place at the NISMED auditorium in U.P. Diliman, was covered by the Diliman Diary from U.P. Baguio. Since we also covered the first forum which took place in U.P. Los Baños on September 20, online and out of U.P. Manila, we decided not to publish the exact same points made by the nominees, fearing redundancy. For those readers who are interested in getting a sense of the breadth of the nominees' remarks over time, please refer to our earlier dispatch in order to get a proper appreciation of the essential nature of each nominee (Please click on: 

Meantime, the well-laid plans of the outgoing U.P. Administration to preempt the new President of the Philippines from appointing replacements to outgoing Malacañang regents Abraham Sarmiento, Francis Chua and Nelia Gonzales by convincing then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to reappoint them as "midnight appointees," may be in trouble inasmuch as Malacañang has requested the U.P. Administration to submit the names of new nominees for Malacañang regents in light of Executive Order # 2, removing all midnight appointees of the previous administration. But since R.A. 9500 or the 2008 U.P. Charter does not expressly give U.P. President Emerlinda Roman the sole monopoly to submit nominees' names for the consideration of President Benigno S. Aquino III, Roman has simply resubmitted the names of the three outgoing regents, along with other names; but other names have been submitted by the U.P. Alumni Association, Faculty Regent Judy Taguiwalo, Senator Edgardo J. Angara and even other third parties.

The practical result of all of this is that it is no longer possible to predict the outcome of the result of the search process for U.P. President, which we have written about in the past (, and which was based on the assumption that a Roman-dominated BOR would hand-pick the next U.P. President. This is no longer the case, since President Aquino may choose among the plethora of nominees being submitted. It is with this uncertain outcome very much in place, that the eleven nominees gave their presentations which were markedly livelier and focused on how they would improve U.P. as it currently stands right now.

Here is what each candidate said they would do if they were selected as U.P. President. We are posting this in order of their actual presentations at U.P. Diliman:

1. Velasco, Luis Rey

U.P. Los Baños Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco said he would emphasize building up a research university. He also said that he wanted to see a comprehensive review of the revised general education program. He added that he would make use of U.P.'s idle lands so as to generate more income for the university. He said that it was important, if he were chosen as U.P. President, for his administration to be marked by transparency, accountability and that mechanisms for feedback should be put into place.

2. Diokno, Benjamin E.

Former Budget Secretary and U.P. School of Economics Professor Benjamin Diokno said it was imperative for U.P. to make itself "more relevant to national goals."

"The U.P. diploma is as good as ever and the faculty remains to be our most important resource," he said, adding that it was important toi put into place policies designed to keep the best and the brightest of the faculty for the longest time. He stressed that it was time to review existing programs and prioritize the trult important programs while engaging in creative financing in view of looming budget cuts.

He said that U.P. could continue to provide the Filipino people with expertise in the areas of global warming, disaster preparedness, health care reforms, poverty alleviation and the promotion of human rights. He said that while there are competing demands for state funds, U.P. needs to innovate and become more resourceful. Given a choice between expanding or excelling, U.P. should choose to excel, he said.

3. Diokno Ma. Serena I.

Former U.P. Vice President and U.P. Diliman Department of History Professor Ma. Serena I. Diokno said if she were chosen as U.P. President that she would do what she could to remove "one size fits all policies" that were not appropriate to specific situations.

By way of example, she said that data needs to drive the formulation and implementation of policies. For example data is needed to determine how many students drop out of U.P. due to poverty. Another example, she said is to obtain data to find out what kind of learning U.P. needs. Correspondingly, the formulation of U.P. policies should flow from the data and conclusions derived thereof, she said.

Diokno said that she wanted to promulgate a Learning in Education Assistance Program (LEAP) that students could participate it as researchers. "This will enable them to earn as they learn," she said, saying that LEAP can be promoted to the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education who would also want to develop their own baseline data on specific subjects.

Aside from LEAP, she also placed great importance on the development of an academic leadership program for current and future student and faculty leaders based on their interests and abilities. She also said that an academic appeals system was necessary; implying that there was no particular system currently in place that would quickly decide on academic matters. She said that the final decision on academic matters should rest with the U.P. President who was the chief academic officer of the university. However, the role of the Board of Regents was to ensure that there was no abuse of authority in the process itself.

4. Alaras, Consolacion R.

Retired Professor Consolacion R. Alaras, a Former Department of English and Comparative Literature (DECL) Chair, began her presentation of her vision for U.P. if she became a U.P. President, by referring in an allegorical manner to the 2010 centennial celebrations of the DECL which she called "historical and prophetic." She mentioned that 2010 was also the 150th birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal, one of the founding fathers of the Philippine independence movement that was later consummated when the Philippines became a full-fledged republic in 1946.

"Time will come when we can rediscover who we are and when that happens, we will discover the wide road of progress," she said in reference to the the Philippines. She said that it was "now time to Rizalize the Philippines because the time will come when Rizal's ideas of governance, development and diplomacy will take root."

Professor Alaras pointed to as medal pinned on her chest and said that it was part of an award given to her by the Czech Republic through Cezch Republic Prime Minister who conferred the award on her in 2009 in Manila for her contributions to the understanding of the professional and personal friendship Dr. Rizal had with Ferdinand Blumentritt of the then Czechoslovakia. Blumentritt, a scholar of the Tagalog language, wrote the preface of El Filibusterismo in German, and who pointed out to Rizal that the root words of government ("pamahalaan") and God ("bathala") had a common ancestor in the Sanskrit language which had influences on the Philippine and Southeast Asias languages. "Pamathalaan" therefore embodies Rizal's and Blumentritt's writings as "Pamathalaan" refers to Sacred Prophetic Politics and Its Impact on Education, Governance, Development, and Diplomacy. In her "Pamathalaan studies", Rizal embodies the spirit and ideals of Pamathalaan or A Moral Sacred Nation.

She said that if she became U.P. President, she would press for a U.P. run on moral and sacred grounds, and that this would spill over, by way of example into the rest of the country.

5. Azanza, Patrick Alain T.

Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza, President of Winsource Solutions, Inc., and a senior lecturer at the U.P. College of Education opened his presentation by sounding the alarm that U.P. already lags behind in several fields of study. Azanza, a B.A. Sociology graduate from UPLB said that once-upon-a-time it was UPLB that dominated in the field of agriculture, but that distinction now belonged to Mindanao State University. It was Visayas State University that excelled in agricultural enginnering, and not U.P. He said kudos belonged to Benguet State University in the area of veterinary medicine and not U.P. He said San Beda is now the top school in the field of law and that in medicine the distinction belonged to the University of Santo Tomas.

Azanza said that U.P. needs to modernize as it lacks technology and equipment. He also said that the large class scheme needed to be reexamined. He said that he was disappointed at the U.P. Administration's highly touted U.P.-Ayala Technohub along Commonwealth Avenue in Diliman because all it was was "a bunch of eateries and call centers. It is not the research hub in partnership with industry that it was meant to be." He said that by way of comparison, National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan was in strong partnership with such global Taiwanese giants such as Acer, which is the number one laptop manufacturer in the world and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. which is the world's largest independent dedicated semiconductor foundry. "U.P. should be like the Silicon Valley of Asia," he said and added that if he became U.P. President, he would work to ensure that U.P. became a global ICT university.

He also pointed out that the lease rental enjoyed by U.P. for the rental of the 36 hectare property on Commonwealth Avenue to Ayala Land, Inc.and on which the U.P.-Ayala Technohub stands, only garnered U.P. PhP 160 a million a year in rental income. The rental income would average only PhP 36 per square meter per month, which is a far cry from what call centers pay in Makati City and Libis who pay anywhere from PhP 350 to PhP 600 per square meter per month for their facilities. "U.P. could have easily raised the capital to construct the facilities to Ayala's requirements and charged commercial rates, thus netting higher revenues for itself," he said.

As U.P. President, he said he would take a more tough-minded bargaining approach to private sector enterprises wanting to conclude deals with U.P., compared to the outgoing administration of U.P. President Emerlinda R. Roman who has a Ph.D. in business administration from U.P. Diliman.

6. Teodosio, Virginia A.

U.P. School of Labor and Industrial Relations Professor Virginia Teodosio said that if she became U.P. President, that she accepted the challenge for U.P. to become financially self-reliant.

She said that based on her experience in providing consultancy services as a cooperative development expert to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that it would be perfectly possible to set up social enterprises within U.P., if she becomes U.P. President, in order to attend to business concerns in the face of U.P.'s declining budget. She cited government universities in China who were doing the exact same thing.

She added that U.P.'s faculty and students still merited high marks, but that U.P. could not afford to isolate itself from the high population growth in the country and the large swathes of the population suffering from poverty. U.P. had to remain engaged with those issues, as a national university, she said.      
7. Pangalangan, Raul C.                            

Former College of Law Dean Raul C. Pangalangan said that the concepts of universities and democarcies "compete with each other," in the sense that democracies are based on the principle of one person having one vote. But a university is not dependent on the tyranny of numbers in the way that a democracy might be, because a university is own reason for being, since its principal audience is a community of scholars dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. Having said that, however, he said a special obligation belongs to public universities such as U.P.

Pangalangan said every nation needed a public university to showcase its talent and that it was wrong to "go down to the market." As U.P. President, he said he would "inspire the marketplace of ideas to go to U.P.'s higher level."

8. Cabral, Esperanza I.

Esperanza I. Cabral, M.D., currently a senior policy adviser to the United Nations Population Fund, the former Secretary of Health and a former professor of pharmacology at the U.P. College of Medicine said that if she was chosen by the BOR as U.P. President, that she would run an administration "based on honesty, fairness, independence of mind and tolerance of adversity."

Quoting Bertrand Russell, she said "Mankind has become so much one family, that we cannot ensure our propserity without ensuring everyone elses propserity."  Therefore, as U.P. President, she would make sure that resource allocations are priotized for academic offerings, student assistance, the welfare of the faculty and the upgrading of facilities in U.P.

9. Pascual, Alfredo E.

Alumni Regent Alfredo Pascual (on leave), who is also a former Asian Development Bank executive and a
former professor from the Asian Institute of Management, said that “U.P. has been eclipsed,” and that it needed to assume a leadership role for national development for the developing needs of the country.

“The country’s many problems remain unresolved, and that’s because many of them are not properly defined,” he said, adding that many of the problems transcended one discipline, requiring a multi-disciplinary approach, “and that’s where U.P. with its many experts in various disciplines can come in and participate in the national discussion,” he said.

As U.P. President, he said he would continue to build up on U.P.’s highly regarded research function, such as the planning of the country’s socioeconomic strategies, strengthening centers of excellence, and use U.P.’s expertise to address the issues of poverty, food self-sufficiency and public health.

Pascual said he would expand U.P.’s graduate program . He also said that:

  • U.P.’s excellent faculty and staff need a good compensation program to retain talent and he would work for that, including improving employment terms, medical care, and making housing affordable and accessible.
  • U.P. would continue to attract the best students, and thus U.P. should offer comparatively low tuition fees to allow those disadvantaged but bright students from availaing of an excellent education, and thus maintaining “U.P.’s public character.”

He said that to address the issue of financial sustainability, it was important for U.P. to develop a ten year strategic plan in order to justify long-term funding from the government. He said that while the U.P. Charter ensured that government could not renege on its financial commitments to U.P., U.P. still needed to work on its financial sustainability.

Incentives can be offered to alumni and other donors, such as giving donors tax breaks in return for making financial donations to U.P. Pascual, who was a professor of finance at AIM or nine years also said that corporate taxes can be tapped to also ensure sustainable funding for the national university.

“If I become U.P. President, I will have an administration that is characterized by god governance, collegiality, predictability, accountability, responsible stewardship and ethical conduct,” he said.

10. Cao, Sergio S.

U.P. Diliman Chancellor Sergio Cao, who is also a professor of finance from the U.P. Diliman’s College of Business Administration, stressed that his administration would concentrate on making U.P. a true research university.

“I will concentrate on helping to develop a research culture,” he said, saying that he would put into placed policies on hiring, the granting of tenure and the provision of funds for the purpose.

He said that it was imperative that only Ph.Ds be teaching in the specialist programs and that for individuals who wanted to teach in general programs, that they must have Ph.Ds before they are given tenure.

He said as U.P. President he would impart to the students the culture of “making moral decisions” and “how to have respect for oneself and for others.”

11. Briones, Leonor M.

Former National Treasurer and U.P. Diliman National College of Public Administration and Governance Professor Leonor M. Briones told the audience that she "left PhP 125 billion with the National Treasury when I was fired by then President Gloria M. Arroyo," adding that "hindi ako agree na nabubulok na ang U.P.," in apparent reference to some of the statements of her fellow nominees that U.P. was not doing so well.

She said that U.P. still excelled in giving sacrifices and "sa pagsabi kung ano ang pagkakamali, kung ano ang totoo."

Briones said that U.P. is still the leading institution of higher learning with the best writers, artists and dancers. She added that "there are many patriotic contribtions that U.P. has made that cannot be quantified and are underalded."

Briones called on U.P. to conduct a comprehensive annual state f the nation review to complement the Philippine President's State of the Nation Address which is given every year. She said that U.P. can help contribute heavily to the Philippines reaching its millenium development goals.

Briones said that those from U.P. should not feel that "hindi tayo ang sinusweldohan. Tayo ang resource."

(Editor's note: After the presentations by the nominees, there was an extended open forum with questions pouring in from all over the U.P. System. To read the proceedings of the open forum, please click on this link:

(Photos by Chanda Shahani)

(Chanda Shahani is the Editor of the Diliman Diary)

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