Friday, November 19, 2010

Update: Outgoing U.P. Administration engineers last-minute dismissal of Student Regent Co, preventing Student participation in today's BOR election of a new U.P. President

In a stunning case of déjà vu, Student Regent Cori Alessa Co has been dismissed as a University of the Philippines (U.P.) student by the U.P. Administration at the last minute, preventing her from acting as Student Regent in today's elections for a new U.P. President by the Board of Regents, which normally has eleven members.

Regent Co's predecessor, former Student Regent Charisse B. Bañez was also prevented from voting last February 25, 2010 by the U.P. Administration, on the grounds that she failed to enroll by the requisite deadline, thus making her a former student and therefore a former Student regent when she voted for Dr. Jose Gonzales as Director of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Dr. Gonzales was later ousted on the strength of that one lost vote from the Student Regent. As a member of the BOR, U.P. President Emerlinda R. Roman did not vote for Dr. Gonzales.

The official reason for Regent Co's dismissal has to do with her supposed academic delinquency. She is currently enrolled in U.P. Baguio. However, the BOR itself only received notice today, on the first round of elections for U.P. President, from U.P. Baguio (through the U.P. Administration which controls the rate of dissemination of such documents). This move is therefore being seen by observers as a preemptive move to deprive some 50,000 U.P. students of representation in the elctions of a new U.P. President.

Current rules allow Student Regent Co to replace herself, and in fact Co can nominate the second nominee for the position of Student Regent, former UP Diliman USC vice-chair Jaqueline Eroles. However, there is also a necessity of acceptance by Ms. Eroles of the position, and this would require an oath-taking (normally before President Roman) which would be highly unlikely to take place until after the elections are finished.

The outgoing U.P. Administration has therefore succeeded in eliminating one critical vote from among the ranks of the eleven-member BOR in what was previously seen as a more uncertain outcome, in view of the appointment by President Benigno S. Aquino III of new Malacañang Regents last November 17. However, it is also true that two of the three Regents - former Chief Justice Renato Puno and former College of Business Administration Dean Magdaleno Albarracin are Roman nominees as well. The third new regent, Ms. Elizabeth Orteza-Siguion Reyna was not nominated by President Roman.

In a statement in her Facebook page, Student Regent Co said that: "Wala tayong ilusyon sa susunod na UP President. Ang tunay na mapagpasya sa panahon na patuloy na nasasadlak sa krisis ang mamamayan, patuloy na ginagawang inutil ang kabataan, at patuloy na isinasawalang bahala ang ating mga karapatan ay ang lakas at diwa ng ating sama-samang pagkilos. Ngayong patindi nang patindi ang bigwas sa ating hanay,hinihingi muli ng kasaysayan ang ating mapagpasyang pagtindig."

(Sources: Twitter updates and the Facebook page of the Philippine Collegian)

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