Despite the persistent withholding of its funds by the UP administration, the Philippine Collegian has been able to release a couple of ‘rebel’ issues the past months through financial soliciations and through the internet (by their usual .PDF files). You may download a copy of the latest issue from the editor-in-chief’s multiply account here or through the paper’s deviantart site here.
Editorial Day of Reckoning | News BOR approves 300% tuition increase for incoming freshmen: Student, faculty regents unable to vote in delibs | Tambayan ng Gabriela Youth, nilooban: Mga polyetong may lagda ng PKP, iniwan ng suspek | Susunod na mga rehente ng mag-aaral, guro, napili na | Gahasa sa Konstitusyon | Peli(kulang)? | Chronology of resistance: December 15 in retrospect | Kultura R/Dekonstruksyon | On Duty: Sa Mata ng Isang Guwardiya | “Sariling desisyon” | Jump Cut | Eskapo | Parol, Parada, Panaginip | Graphics | WOW Diliman | Opinion | Acrobat(ics)
Day of Reckoning
December 15 of last year was the day that the UP administration desecrated the very ideals that it is supposed to protect. On that day, the UP administration, without the slightest hesitation or remorse, enforced actions that assaulted every student’s right to accessible education and academic freedom.
As December 15 marked the students’ day of protest against the Board of Regents’ (BOR) approval of the three hundred percent tuition increase, the UP administration employed several strategies to curtail the students’ articulation of dissent. It was the day that saw the culmination of the administration’s successive moves to exert its full force against the students and the entire UP community. Initially, the UP administration used a strategy of containment. The schedule of the BOR meeting was already treacherous in itself, a way of preventing students from organizing given that the Lantern Parade, an event of celebration, was set on the same day. At the last minute, the Lantern Parade was cancelled, for the dubious reason that there are “threats to life and property,” ironically reminiscent of the national administration’s declaration of the state of emergency that the UP administration staunchly opposed. If there were such threats to campus security, it is odd that the Lantern Parade was canceled while the BOR meeting was not. However, when a large number of students marched to Quezon Hall to protest the pending approval of the tuition increase, it became clear that the real reason for canceling the parade was to prevent the inevitable build-up of a large student demonstration.
Indeed, some of the direct casualties of this repressive move by the administration were the students of the College of Fine Arts, who were prevented from joining the protest program with the lanterns they painstakingly made amidst threats from their college’s Dean. Despite this preliminary act of containment, the students persisted in their protest. As such, the UP administration further enacted a strategy of evasion. As the students waited for the arrival of the BOR at Quezon Hall to demand that the tuition increase deliberation be held public, a memo addressed to the Student and Faculty Regent arrived saying that the meeting has been moved to the College of Law to “prevent the escalation of violence.” But the UP administration’s labeling of the student demonstration as “violent” was but a form of deception, a way of escaping their accountability to the protesting students, as they had done so since the beginning of the academic year.
The UP administration’s evasion of the students was cowardly, at the very least. But it became downright ruthless when the BOR meeting finally pushed through. The BOR went ahead and casted their votes even without the presence of the Student Regent and the Faculty Regent, those who represent the largest sectors in the university. It is unacceptable that the BOR did not even consider actively seeking out the Student and Faculty Regent, even though the two regents represent those who will be directly affected by the tuition increase proposal. The UP administration claims that the two regents were to blame, that they failed to perform their duty to attend the meeting. But what the UP administration, headed by President Roman, fails to mention and take into account was that the two regents were the only members of the BOR who heeded the students’ protests against the tuition increase proposal.
The events that unfurled on December 15, the strategies inflicted by the administration, are clear manifestations of the grievous and palpable acts commited by the UP administration: outright repression of students’ rights and abuse of administrative power. Never has the UP administration been more repressive, never more rabid, never more fearless and unheeding of the students’ opposition to an issue that affects the future of all UP students. Yet, for every strategy of containment and evasion, there is always a strategy of refusal and resistance. On December 15, the UP administration ruefully inflicted its authority on the students and the UP community.
But December 15 was not a day of absolute victory for the UP administration, for it reinforced at the same time the validity of mass actions against inherently limited bureaucratic or what many call “legitimate” modes of engagement. The actions of the administration and the BOR only show that legitimate negotiations are never enough, for the players are never on a level playing field. Hence it is necessary that the students exert pressure through the form of demonstrations, to assert that the students are watching the administration’s very move. As such, although the tuition increase was approved, the large student action that transpired on December 15 shows that the students do not respect and recognize the BOR’s decision as valid and justified. What the UP administration does not realize is that the full potential and conditions for student resistance are mounting””out of the administration’s own doing.