January 31, 2008
. Last December 19, 2007, Senate Bill No. 1964, otherwise known as the Pangilinan-sponsored Act to amend the University of the Philippines Charter
, was approved in the Senate. It seeks to replace the century-old charter of the country’s premiere state university to “avert the declining competitiveness of UP education.” Granted, the university’s charter is indeed archaic and is in need of amendments in order to effectively perform its role as the country’s premiere state university. However, the present bill, sponsored by Senator Francis Pangilinan, at large, includes provisions that some of us believe will further institutionalize the present Board of Regents’ undemocratic governance of the university and further alienate majority of Filipinos from democratic access to UP education. [You may download this .doc file for a more detailed matrix of the contented provisions and the corresponding amendment proposals
Last Monday, January 28, 2007, as both the Congress and the Senate resume session after their holiday breaks, bicameral conferences were held in the Senate to finalize and pass the government’s priority bills. One of which, was the new UP Charter.
Through the lobbying of students, alumni, faculty and staff who compose UP WIDEM 3 (UP-wide Democratization Movement), and through the assistance of Senator Jamby Madrigal, we were able to insert several revisions and amendments into the Charter through the deliberations that were held the past months, despite harsh objections from the UP administration and its student stalwarts. These amendments shall at very least try to protect what we believe should be the real character and nature of UP as the country’s premiere state university that shall serve the greater interest of the Filipino people. Aside from such, there are more provisions that we seek to see passed with the new UP Charter
. Such provisions rests on two principles; the principle of democratic governance
at all levels in the university through consultation and collective decision-making that will ensure the effective participation of UP’s faculty, REPS, administrative staff and students; and the principle of democratic access
to a UP education by maintaining the status of the University of the Philippines as a public institution of higher learning that aims to provide affordable quality education for Filipinos.
(Funny how the word state
in “state university” has repeatedly and altogether been replaced with the word national
in the new UP Charter as if to detach the institution from the state’s responsibility. It’s quite telling of the original bill’s real and subliminal intentions.)
Despite our lobbying efforts, the possibility that the bicameral conference pass the original Pangilinan-sponsored bill without our proposed amendments, is always present. Which is why, last Monday, more than a hundred students from UP Diliman and UP Manila went to the Senate to register our sentiments and to insist on the provisions we seek to be seen through as the new UP Charter is passed.
After picketing outside the gates of Senate, we returned to campus and updated our fellow students of the progress of the UP Charter bicameral conference approval. I went org hopping with some colleagues in AS, Engineering and Vinzons. Late that afternoon, we held a program at AS steps then proceeded to march towards Vinzons Hall where we continued the information campaign. It’s quite telling, that the passage of the new UP Charter was set right at the beginning of the year of the university’s centennial, because it is indeed part of a larger plan of the UP administration to push for its distorted policies guised with the celebration of UP’s centennial as a very convenient and palatable excuse. It is, indeed, part of a larger government scheme, as ascribed in the Long-Term Higher Education Development Plan 2001-2010 (LTHEDP 2001-2010), of furthering the decrease in state subsidies and transforming all its state universities into self-sustaining semi-private institutions by selling its assets and raising tuition. All to the detriment of the Filipino youth, most of whom can barely afford the present cost of tertiary education in UP and other state universities; and to the disadvantage of the Filipino people such institutions claim to serve.