Friday, October 15, 2010

Into the Homestretch: The last and 3rd of the Search for the Next UP President: Nominees’ Fora is held yesterday at U.P. PGH

(The "Oblation" at the entrance to U.P. PGH)

By Chanda Shahani

The last out of the three "Search for the Next UP President: Nominees’ Fora," where the nominees for University of the Philippines (U.P.) President gave their presentations before the public, was held yesterday at the Science Hall at the U.P. Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Ten out of eleven nominees attended yesterday's forum which was beamed live to various UP campuses through the U.P. Open University. Only one nominee, U.P. Diliman School of Economics Professor Benjamin E. Diokno did not attend yesterday’s forum.

(Inside Science Hall, U.P. PGH)

The Diliman Diary is providing an even-handed coverage of the more unique and original remarks of all the nominees today, in their presentations and answers in the open forum, rather than providing an ad verbatim transcript of the remarks, because much of the material presented today was a repeat of remarks made by the nominees in the previous two fora.

The first forum was held on September 20, 2010 at U.P. Los Baños. Readers can read about our coverage of this forum by clicking on the following links: and

The second forum was held on September 24, 2010 at U.P. Diliman. Readers can read about our coverage of this forum by clicking on the following links: and

Yesterday’s forum was emceed by Dr. Carmencita Padilla, a professor of pediatrics at the U.P. College of Medicine, with U.P. Manila Chancellor Ramon Arcadio, M.D. giving the welcome remarks. Like in the previous two fora, each nominee’s order of presentation was chosen by drawing lots. Afterwards, there was an open forum.

(Dr. Carmencita Padilla, moderating)

For ease of reference, the Diliman Diary will narrate the presentations of each nominee according to the order in which they were chosen, but will also embed the link to their individual remarks during the open forum alongside the narrated presentation remarks of each nominee. Here is what they said:

1. Cabral, Esperanza I.

Esperanza I. Cabral, M.D. and former Secretary of the Department of Health said that even if U.P. should adhere to high scholarship standards, that it should also "imbue honesty and fairness, tolerance and diversity"in the values it inculcates in its students. She said U.P. needs to have a strategic plan and that in an era of dwindling government sponsorship, it must diversify its finances aside from solely depending on government through fund raising efforst and external assistance. She stressed that appropriations for the faculty must be undertaken as well and she ended by describing U.P. as a democratic community and that if chosen as its leader, she would develop a platform of collective interest and that she would place a lot of stress on developing the human being.

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

2. Pangalangan, Raul C.

Former U.P. College of Law Dean Raul C. Pangalangan zeroed in on the dillemma of U.P.'s being a public university. "What is the place of a public university?" he asked his audience. "People think that there is a kind of social partnership between a public and its university in the case of U.P.," he said, adding that on the one hand a university is made up of scholars who are judged by universal standards set by their peers inside and outside U.P. "On the other hand, U.P. is also a public university that is accountable to its people and it is rarely that these two masters talk to each other," he said. He said that U.P. must also make it a point to be accountable to its people "in the interests of social justice."

If he is chosen as U.P. President, Pangalangan said that he would identiy issues, set options and also present alternative courses of action to the different sectors of the community, indicating that he would adopt a very consultative approach to the job.

He said that as U.P. President he would strive to maintain the symbiotic bond between the academic standards of U.P. and the expectation that it would bring services to the people. However, he said every nation needs a U.P., and that "it is only by improving quality that we can continue to reach out."

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

3. Pascual, Alfredo E.

Alumni Regent (on leave) Alfredo E. Pascual said that if he is selected as the next U.P. President by the BOR, that U.P. could expect to depend on his international exposure which includes several years as a professor of finance at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and an executive at the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He said that U.P. should take a leadership role in national development and that he would help in making that a reality.

It is through teaching, research and extension work that the development needs of the country can be met, he said. However, he said that high academic standards should always be maintained throughout, adding that U.P. also needs to reinvent itself to become a true research university.

"U.P. should gear itself to research output in language that people can understand; but it should also undertake a search to finding niches in the research world that it can excel in, such as in scientific research and creative outputs," he said.

Pascual also called for an expansion of U.P.'s graduate program, and also said as far as human resources issues were concerned, that U.P. should observe terms that applied too and not just one category of personnel. Elaborating further, Pascual said there should be an honest-to-goodness incentive program with benefits to all. This statement was met with heavy applause in the fully packed Science Hall.

Pascual said that while he supported the alternative generation of funds beyond a reliance on the National Government for a budget, he was nevertheless against the commercialization of education. He said that extra revenues generated should not replace national government funding but that these should be subjected to control measures and safeguards.

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

4. Diokno Ma. Serena I.

U.P. Diliman History Professor Ma. Serena I. Diokno opened her statement by acknowledging U.P.'s problems. "Dahil sa hirap ng panahon, walang gustong makitang maisatabi ang U.P. Pero, hangad kong makita ang U.P. sa liga ng pinakamagaling."

Diokno, a former Vice President for Academic Affairs of the U.P. System, also made the point that questions of academic merit should be decided upon by departments and colleges, but that abuses of authority should be decided upon by the multi-sectoral Board of Regents.

In the case of employee welfare, she said that if she were selected as U.P. President, that an Ombudsman would be created to deal with government institutions such as GSIS to represent U.P. employees. This Ombudsman would not be a mere liasion but would be tasked to test policies and to propose alternatives for the best interests of U.P. employees.

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

5. Cao, Sergio S.

U.P. Diliman Chancellor Sergio S Cao said that as U.P. President that he would grow U.P. into a research university. He would operationalize this, he said, by having good policies on hiring, tenure and sourcing funds for the different departments and campuses. He said he would also strengthen the graduate programs and improve the quality of laboratories and improve internet access.

As U.P. President he said he would also work to make sure that incentives were granted for more research by faculty and he would also support international collaboration. Given the flexibility granted to U.P. under the 2008 U.P. Charter (R.A. 9500) to raise money, he said he would take advantage of this, but would also make sure that funds were properly used and not misused.

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

6. Teodosio, Virginia A.

U.P. School of Labor and Industrial Relations (SOLAIR) Professor Virginia A. Teodosio said that "maswerte ang U.P. President sa 2011 dahil malaking tulong ang U.P. Charter upang itaas ang mga pondo." On the other hand, she said, a lot of U.P. Faculty are set to retire soon, and it was impossible to rely on the younger ones who have not made it yet in the worlds of sidelines and consultancies to generate their own supplementary income.

She said that considering it would cost an estimated PhP 50 billion to make U.P. a true research university, then U.P. needed somebody like her who was an expert in generating alternative sources of income. By way of example, she said she was travelling abroad when customs examiners checked the baggage she was carrying and were astounded to find that she was carrying organic coffee and soap made from papayas. "Where can we find these?" she was asked. Teodosio said that there was a big market abroad for items like she was carrying, adding that it was this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that would get results in generating funds for raising the PhP billion to make U.P. a research university. "If as U.P. President, I cannot raise the needed funds, then you can impeach me," she said.

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

7. Briones, Leonor M.

National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) Professor Leonor M. Briones opened her statement by citing the PhP 29 billion allocation for the government's conditional cash transfer program next year, and also for 2011, PhP 20 billion was allocated for the Department of Agriculture and agriculture expenditures, PhP 15 billion for public-private sector partnerships, and PhP 60 billion in unprogrammed funds, "Yet U.P.'s requests for a budget increasde was turned down."

If selected by the BOR as U.P. President, Briones said that she brings to the table "a love of country, a knowledge of numbers and a love of wisdom." But Briones also warned against political upheavals and a loss of democratic rights. She also cited her track record as a former Secretary of the Commission on Audit, and as a former Vice-President for Finance of U.P. Briones also said she left PhP 125 billion with the National Treasury when she was fired from her job by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as National Treasurer for certifying that that ousted former President Joseph E. Estrada had left a budget surplus worth that amount.

Briones said that U.P. Manila, U.P. Diliman and U.P. Los Baños, were the older of the universities which should pave the way for establishing a true research university in both basic and applied research in U.P., with the younger ones such as U.P. in the Visayas, U.P. Mindana, U.P. Open University and U.P. Baguio also making their own efforts.

She said that of the PhP 1.179 billion budget allocated to U.P. for 2011, there were many missing components. For example, she under the U.P. Charter, U.P. was entitled to PhP 500 million under the Centennial Fund, but that it had only received PhP 200 million so far. Paradoxically, Briones said that the National Government was awash with revenue collections such as from the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation as well as funds colected by the Land Transportation Office for motor vehicle registration updates. "These are alternative sources of funds for U.P. that we can tap on top of maximizing our property resources and intellectual properties," she said, adding that "sa totoo lang, may deficit ang ating gobyerno sa pera, pero sa totoo lang, mera pera din na pumapasok."

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

8. Alaras, Consolacion R.

Former Department of English and Comparative Literature Chair Professor Consolacion R. Alaras, wearing a maroon U.P. T-shirt proudly displayed her shirt to the audience and invoked her love of the University. But Alaras also invoked her love of one of the Philippines' Founding Fathers, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, and  pointed out that the approximate location of PGH and U.P. Manila was very near to Luneta, the place of execution of Dr. Rizal.

Alaras, whose style is to essentially jettison almost all references to operational details about how she would conduct herself as U.P. President, said the details were not important unless the primary issue was addressed. "This issue is the spiritual health of the nation, and the moral redemption of the Filipino race. Since I am running for U.P. President, then it stands to follow that if selected, I will stand for U.P. to be the mirror of a moral sacred Philippines."

She said that in all details of governance in U.P., "I stand for equity." She referered to "pamathalaan," or the Sacred Prophetic Politics based on the writings of Dr. Rizal and Ferdinand Blumentritt which would govern her decision making as U.P. President.

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

9. Azanza, Patrick Alain T.

Dr. Patrick Alain T. Azanza, a senior lecturer at the U.P. College of Education fired off his opening salvo by brandishing a white paper that he says was being circulated by unknown persons who emerged from Quezon Hall (the main offices of the U.P. Administration) in U.P. Diliman, questioning his credentials.

"Ganitong kababaw ba ang proseso ngayon?" asked Azanza who has been critical in past fora where he questioned the judgement of officials of the outgoing administration of U.P. President Emerlinda R. Roman for their failure to shed light on financial transactions of university-affiliated foundations such as the University of the Philippines Foundation. He has also made scathing remarks about the Roman administration's failure to get betetr deals for real estate transactions with Ayala Land, Inc. for the U.P.-Ayala Land Technopark along Commonwealth Avenue in Diliman Quezon City.

Azanza said the white paper, authored by unknown persons, questioned his receipt of the Lingkod Bayan Award in 1996, which is the highest award conferred by the President of the Republic of the Philippines to oustanding civil servants in his capacity as the Director of the Human Resources Development Office of the U.P. System and was given on September 13, 1996 on the occasion of the Civil Service Commission in Malacañang. Then-CSC Commissioner Alma de Leon was in attendance in 1996, and Azanza said that she was in attendance also in the PGH forum, leading him to question the dirty tactics of Quezon Hall. "They even got my student number in the white paper wrong," he said, "and it starts with 85," he said.

Azanza then went on to describe a U.P. that had slipped in global rankings. He said that U.P. was # 262 in world rankings, whle Ateneo de Manila University was at a higher # 234. He said that in regional surveys, ADMU was # 58 while U.P. was only # 74. "U.P. must deserve the title of National University," he said, stressing that he would bring his extensive private and public sector experience to bear on serving U.P. if he is selected as U.P. President. Azanza said that he had worked for the Asian Development Bank, and essentially had a direct hand in putting together almost all the modules of the Saint Agustine School of Nursing.

Azanza also said that U.P. must treat its employees more fairly, and mentioned the benefits which were granted by the U.P. BOR but which have not been released by the U.P. Administration which is citing a lack of funds.

Azanza said that if he is selected as U.P. President he would maximize the 30,000 hectares of idle lands within the U.P. System to generate more revenue so that U.P. could take care of its expenses as well as modernize. He said he would accomplish all of this without increading tuition fees or miscellanous fees of the students.

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

10. Velasco, Luis Rey

U.P. Los Baños Chancellor Dr. Luis Rey Velasco, an entymologist, began his presentation by referring to the oft-quoted phrase describing U.P. students as "Iskolar ng Bayan." He said that U.P. should keep the term, but should also add or append to it the term, "Iskolar para sa Bayan," or in other words, U.P. students should be pro-Philippines, pro-people and pro-nation.

If selected as U.P. President, he said he would focus on three main thrusts. Firstly, he said he would strengthen the constituent universities. Secondly, he said he would reorient U.P.'s orientation to become a research university and thirdly, he would also focus on resource generation.

Velasco said that in reality, there were synergies that existed between the different constituent universities. "We should strengthen the CUs in order to democratize access to U.P. education," he said, adding that he was concerned about " Iskos and Iskas with low income." Velasco said that he was in favour of a study-now-pay-later scheme for U.P. students, especially for those in graduate programs.

In an era where students could access a plethora of information "with just one click," Velasco said he wanted to emphasize the development in U.P. students of the ability to process information, to develop critical thinking skills and to internalize the philosphy and methodlogy of the scientific research process.

Velasco said it was important to integrate transdisciplinary research in order to create and innovate, stressing that it is only by strengthening CUs that research can be made more meaningful.

As for resource generation, Velasco said he was against the commercialization of U.P. education.

To read the answers of all the nominees in the Open Forum at Science Hall, U.P. PGH, please click on this link:

The presentation of the eleven nominees vision and programs before the U.P. Board of Regents (BOR) and corresponding interviews is on November 18, 2010 and the election of the new President by the BOR is on November 19, 2010 (first round and possibly more), according to U.P.’s website at:

(Faculty Regent Dr. Judy M. Taguiwalo with U.P.
Dept of Mathematics Professor
Dr. Fidel R. Nemenzo after the proceedings
at the merienda prepared by the UPM
administration for the nominees and for other UP personnel)

Readers may also check out the curriculum vitae and vision papers of the eleven nominees by clicking on the following link from the U.P. website:

(Photo of "Oblation" by Chanda Shahani. The remaining photos are courtesy of Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo)

(Chanda Shahani is the Editor of the Diliman Diary)

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