Youth Action Day & the 148th anniversary of Jose Rizal’s birth

Kabataan Party-list commemorated last June 19, 2009 the 148th birth anniversary of national hero Jose Rizal and its founding anniversary with a Youth Action Day against the convening of a constituent assembly and charter change.

148th Rizal Birth Anniversary (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09)

The Youth Action Day kicked off with a Morning Jog against Cha-Cha at 8:00 in the morning around Rizal Park. After which, youth and student leaders led by Kabataan Party-list Mong Palatino went back to the Rizal Monument to offer a wreath symbolizing the youth’s respect and honor for the national hero.

Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09)

In the main program held in Luneta, Palatino said that “Rizal should be honored for his patriotism and nationalism and today’s youth should all be made aware of the lessons he bequeathed upon us.”

Palatino said, “It was Rizal who said that “˜There can be no tyrants where there are no slaves.’ His words ring true today when our youth and people are being confronted with attempts to discard democracy and wield a modern-day dictatorship. It is just fitting that we commemorate Rizal Day with the youth’s resounding call against Arroyo’s cha-cha and tyranny.”

Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09) Youth Action Day at Luneta (Jun. 19, '09)

Students from different schools in Metro Manila were in attendance. National youth groups such as the National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students, Anakbayan, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, and Kristiyanong Kabataan para sa Bayan were also present. Youth and student leaders capped the program with a Youth Pledge and collective signing of a petition campaign spearheaded by alliance Kabataan Kontra Cha-Cha.

Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09) Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09) Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09) Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09) Anti-ConAss Noise Barrage at Katipunan (Jun. 19, '09)

In the afternoon, students from the University of the Philippines – Diliman held a noise barrage along Katipunan Avenue to protest against Con-Ass and Charter Change.

Age of Consent

On the issue of the UP Student Code and national issue of the Constituent Assembly

It was modern thinking that placed a high premium on Consent as a foundation of law. Consent has a transformative moral power, but it has its own pitfall: it can transform a wrongful action into a rightful one. If Manny Pacquiao had knocked down Ricky Hatton outside of the ring, he would have been prosecuted for serious physical injuries.

Still, this philosophy stems from the core belief that all men are reasonable, and that Reason will then lead us all to a single, unassailable conclusion. This legal theory, stridently discussed in Malcolm Hall, is relentlessly tested in practice.

We note two particular instances: in proposals for a new code for student discipline in Diliman, and for a constituent assembly to change the Charter. When the UP administration moved for the codification of student rules sometime in 2005, students were only allowed piecemeal participation. In a university where 80% of students are older than 18 years — the age of consent — the lack of active and inclusive student participation is suspect. The drafting of the Code undermines the basic right of students to be consulted, represented, and decide in the formulation of policies that affect their rights and welfare.

UMAKSYON last year joined 100 other student organizations, in submitting to the Board of Regents an 18-point demand “reclaiming the rights of student organizations in the University of the Philippines”. The document specifically demanded student council control over two properties; softer rules on organization and assembly; and secure student representation or participation in important campus activities.

In contrast, the draft Diliman Student Code emphasizes that the use of university facilities and the use of a tambayan is a grant, a privilege. It also offered stricter guidelines on student organizations, and barely promised solutions to staffing and appointment issues of student publications and representatives. What the draft code puts forward is a simpler procedure for discipline cases.

The mismatch is worse on the national arena. Charter change during the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has never had the support of the people. Yet still, at a time when citizens are clamoring for economic palliatives — jobs, higher wages, a more beneficial agrarian reform, lower tuition — the Philippine Congress decides to start changing the charter.

Personal political interests have always found their way into the legislature, but never before as daft and brazen. The House of Representatives approved House Resolution 1109, which converts Congress into a Constituent Assembly, before midnight of June 2. The Assembly, which finds no difference between members of the lower and the upper chambers, is legally infirm. It would be, in straightforward terms, a usurpation of power of the Senate by members of the House of Representatives. Standing to benefit from nine years of similar political machinations is Mrs. Arroyo, one of the slyest UP alumni ever to sit in office.

Amidst some of the worst scandals in political history, she was safely tucked in the immunity of public office. Charter change, a new run for office, and a whole motley of exit plans promise to unreasonably, but permanently keep her untouchable. It will be one large question of political survival for Mrs. Arroyo — and for the Filipino people — after June 30, 2010. As we mark every milestone: her last State of the Nation Address in July, election day in May next year, it won’t take a legal education to answer: would Coercion succeed where Consent cannot?

Ugnayan ng Mag-aaral Laban sa Komersyalisasyon (UMAKSYON) UP College of Law

Academic woes get worse

I’ve been quite distraught the past days over my academic standing in Law. I’m in the brink of being kicked out because of my grades. Kicked out temporarily, at least.

Since I was already on probation during the second semester of my freshman year, I am not allowed to get any more failing marks, but after enrollment two weeks ago, our Criminal Law 2 grades came out and unfortunately, I got my first 5.0 ever. That should effectively dismiss me from UP Law.

The anomaly and the confusion, however, is that I’ve already enrolled before the grade came out and that classes have already started, and I’ve signed my class cards and all the first-day shiz.

Another thing is that the cause of my probationary status last semester, a 4.0 in Persons & Family Relations, is still unresolved. Now I don’t know if my enrollment is voided, if I can remain enrolled conditionally pending the resolution of my unremoved 4.0, or what? I still have to talk with our College Secretary to clarify my status and negotiate something.

Over the past days I’ve been thinking of my choices whatever the outcome will be. Perhaps I can start working? Some of my friends don’t like this attitude of mine, always thinking of the worst scenario in order to be emotionally and psychologically prepared for it. True, I do have the tendency to dwell on the worst scenario. Nakakabaliw nga siya. But it really is just my way of coping up with the stress. I always seek security from preparing for the worst. If the outcome is anything but the worst, then all the better. I wish I could just say this is just school, but somehow there’s always a big social price with being in a law school. All the family and societal expectations from aspiring lawyers can be stressful. It’s crazy. It’s not as easy to say to people I failed law school than say I failed… I don’t know, film school? Why? I don’t quite get it. How I miss being in undergrad. Is the law profession worth it? I know it is, I just don’t know how to answer the why.

B ushers in B

With the new de-blocking system in place at the UP College of Law, the traditional block culture may be gone. Starting this year, only freshmen will get to have the same classmates in all their classes. After their first year, UP Law students can choose their professors and classes individually, through a bidding and registration system similar to US law schools, apparently. There are various reasons to this, as explained by the Dean during his talk with Batch 2012 yesterday. Ultimately it is to give the individual student the privilege to take the classes and the schedule that would best suit his needs that would hopefully result to better performance.

Despite the de-blocking policy, however, my blockmates and I coordinated among each other, and along with other blocks in Batch 2012, in order for original blockmates to remain with each other in our classes this first semester of our second year. I guess most of us have become clingy with each other the past year. Undoubtedly, and speaking from experience, one’s blockmates is one of the more reliable support groups in law school a law student can have. Indeed, the bond that uniquely shared experiences can forge among law students can be strong for some.

For a few days the last week, my blockmates and I have been participating in the freshmen orientation program for the new batch of law students this year. Each block is tasked to orient a freshman block into life in Malcolm Hall, the same way it has been done over the years. It’s cliche, but it feels pretty weird how time flies by quite quickly, and we’re now the ones ushering in the freshmen into law school. In a few days, I shall begin my second year of law studies. (Start of classes were postponed for a week due to the swine flu precautions imposed by the Commission on Higher Education and Department of Health). Hopefully, I get through with it better this year. With stricter academic rules in place in the College, I really have to take this seriously already.

2009 UP Diliman Code of Student Conduct

Manifesto of unity calling for the junking of the proposed 2009 Code of Student Conduct and for the forwarding of an alternative, democratic Code

Ugnayan ng Mag-aaral Laban sa Komersyalisasyon ng Edukasyon (UMAKSYON)

We, students of the University of the Philippines, firmly denounce the questionable procedures through which the draft of 2009 Code of Student Conduct (CSC) was formulated, as well as oppose its anti-student and repressive character. We firmly believe that the proposed Code runs counter to the student demands that we have long forwarded to the Board of Regents since the start of the academic year, and as such deserves the greatest condemnation from the ranks of students and organizations aspiring to uphold their democratic rights in the University.

The provisions of the Code did not undergo student consultation. At the onset, the drafting of the Code has already violated the basic right of students to be consulted and represented in the formulation of policies that affect their rights and welfare. The procedure by which it was drafted undermines the capacity of the students to recommend solutions to long-standing student issues in the University. Moreover, it is unjust that the Code was consulted to College administrators, while the assertion of the University Student Council to participate in the drafting of the Code was deliberately refused.

The provisions in the Code runs counter to the ideals of academic freedom in the University. The basis of discipline and its corresponding sanctions imposed by the Code also imperil the academic freedom inside the University. It dictates on the organizations the kind of activities it must pursue for it to be able to qualify for recognition and application of tambayans. It also prohibits students from using UP’s Information Technology System for political, personal, and commercial reasons, including crossposting in email groups. “Breach of peace”, “disrespect towards persons of authority” and “threatening behavior” are vague statements that may render academic and extra-curricular activities as punishable by the Code. Moreover, the transformation of the Student Disciplinary Tribunal into a Council eliminates student representation in disciplinary proceedings, as it effectively removes the existence of Student Jurors. At the same time, the proposed process of hearing cases of violations also runs counter to the principle of fair and due process. In fact, the Code approximates the Human Security Act in its totalitarian tone. It unilaterally imposes the kind of thinking, behavior, and endeavors that students must conform to.

The Code violates our basic human rights of freedom to organize, express, and assemble. We decry the gross violation of our basic rights, as our constitutional right to organize and right to free speech stands to be crushed by the stipulations of the Code. Aside from the provisions stated above, it also sets high criteria for the recognition of organizations, requiring an approximate of 100 members to qualify for University recognition. It also prohibits freshmen and transferees from joining organizations, otherwise, the individual and the organization shall be punished by the Code. Instead of providing an academic community that upholds our basic rights and instituting safeguards for the realization of the students’ holistic and full potential, the Code limits our democratic space, effectively restricting students from joining organizations and expressing our opinions.

The Code silences collective dissents, paving the way for further commercialization and repression in the University. We analyze the proposed policy as a clear adjunct to the programmed commercialization of the university, which we have consistently opposed for the longest time. The free organization, assembly, and expression of students are the biggest obstructions in forwarding anti-student policies in the University, such as fee increases and privatization of student services. The passage of the Code will cripple organizations, sororities and fraternities, hindering students from registering dissent against anti-student and pro-commercialization thrusts of the university via organized and collective fronts. History tells us that student formations and institutions had been instruments of expressing and asserting our democratic aspirations. During the Martial Rule, when organizations, student councils, and publications were banned, our ability to unite, organize, express, and create collective fronts despite repressive conditions contributed greatly to the reinstitution of our democratic rights and to the eventual end of Marcos dictatorship. We shall not let any moves that aim to weaken the collective strength and potency that we have.

With the position articulated above, we decisively call for the immediate junking of the proposed Code for Student Conduct, as it clearly stands as an affront to our basic rights and interests. We demand for an alternative student code that shall encourage, rather than restrict, the flourishing of basic rights and civil liberties of Iskolars ng Bayan — a code that shall put our general and specific student demands in legislation. For a university can never flourish if its primary stakeholder, the students and organizations, is shackled to the dogma of coercion and discipline.

University Student Council Turnover ’09

April 20, 2009. We had a turnover ceremony for the University Student Council (USC). That pseudo-officially ended our terms as members of the University Student Council.

Good luck to incoming USC for 2009! The turnover ceremony was a joint ceremony. The outgoing and the incoming editorial leadership of the Philippine Collegian also had their part of the program. It felt a little anticlimactic for me. After all, involvement in campus issues has never really been confined to the USC, for me. And I didn’t feel that anything ended that day. Even engaging colleagues from the other parties in debates, surely, didn’t end that day–even if it was goodbye to the long and harrowing GA’s we regularly had, when we just couldn’t agree on some issues at all. Though, I’d have to say despite all that, we managed to get along somehow in the end, some more than others, politics aside of course.

Simultaneously, UP Administation officials, USC 2008 and Senator Richard Gordon unveiled a bust of Wenceslao Vinzons, which the Senator commissioned to do, in honor of the hero to whom the historic and quintessential hub of university activism and politics was named after. There were also dozens of brods present too–since Vinzons, the Senator, and a handful of members of the incoming and outgoing University Student Council are members of the Upsilon Sigma Phi.

Malalison Island, Culasi, Antique

April 16, 2009. Early the next day after we arrived in Culasi, we all got up early and went on a short drive from our friend’s home, to the beach near the municipal hall to take a pump boat to Malalison Island. The island is one of the three island barangays of Culasi, and is the nearest one to the coast, with a distance of around 4 kilometers. It was a 20-minute pump boat ride to the island. Ours, though, took longer because we requested for the boat to go around the entire island before docking at the main beach.

The island was a relatively small island, with still some unspoiled coves and rugged stone cliffs. One can probably enjoy taking a peaceful hike around the island, though that we weren’t able to do.

After around ten to fifteen minutes around the island, we finally dock at main hook-shaped beach. Our friend from Culasi told us the beach was comparable to Boracay (which incidentally was relatively near Culasi). Indeed, it was. Not better, but comparable. The sand was just as white, though not as fine or powdery, and the waters just as crystal clear, even clearer.

Best of all, we were the only ones at the beach. The waters can get deep immediately a few meters from the shore, however, so if you don’t know how to swim, you might not get too far away. Though, on the upside, one can go snorkeling right there and then. Though, we weren’t able to do that either.

After less than an hour in the water, I took a peaceful nap in one of the huts on the beach. Even if I slept on a bamboo table, I’ve never had a sleep that good in a while, after all the anxiety and stress over the Student Regent selection two days before. By lunch time, we headed back to the main town of Culasi, with the same pump boat. See, I had to get on my way back to Iloilo City because my flight back to Manila was that evening. Since Iloilo city was a good four to five hours away, I had to leave by lunch time. My other friends, however, proceeded to Boracay after lunch.

I sat on the side of the boat on the way back, with my feet on the water. It got pretty hot that afternoon, too.

From Miag-ao, Iloilo to Culasi, Antique

April 15, 2009. Since the GASC (General Assembly of Student Councils) was able to select the new Student Regent in just a day, everyone had an extra day off to leave UP Visayas earlier and to go to Guimaras or to Iloilo City or to wherever they wanted to go around. Some of us decided to take on a friend’s offer to visit their town of Culasi, Antique. Little did we know that Culasi, Antique was a good four to five hours away from Miag-ao, Iloilo. That northern part of Antique is actually closer to Caticlan and Boracay already than it is to Miag-ao. The bus also has to pass through some mountain range which separates Antique from Iloilo, or from the rest of Panay for that matter. The tallest mountain in Panay Island can be found in Culasi, Antique, by the way (sorry, random information).

It was pretty easy to get a ride to Culasi. After lunch, we just had to walk a few hundred meters to the highway from the UP Visayas campus and wait at a pedestrian shed for buses that regularly ply the road from Iloilo City to Antique. I think I’ve mentioned it a few years before when I took a bus from Infanta to Manila, but I really have a penchant for taking long, open-air provincial bus rides–all the wind, the sights, sounds, smell, and the people gives for a relatively authentic traveling experience.

After winding through some mountains, the bus descends and takes a half-hour stop at San Jose, the capital of Antique, which is halfway through the entire four-five hour trip. Many of the passengers from Iloilo unload here, and are replaced with other passengers on their way north of Antique.

Student Regent Selection ’09 (Part 2)

April 14, 2009. The day after the KASAMA sa UP (Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP) National Council Meet was the GASC’s (General Assembly of Student Councils) Student Regent Selection deliberations at the CFOS (College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences) Auditorum of UP Visayas, Miag-ao.

I forget how many exactly were the student councils who were represented in the assembly, around thirty-three, I think. As I’ve mentioned, there were only two of us who were nominated to the GASC. Me, from UP Diliman, and Chaba from UP Los Banos.

The deliberations started off with an individual presentation of our vision for the office, and our programs of action–platform, if you may call it that. Then, it was grill-time, with both of us in front answering the same set of questions alternately. It was amusing at times since we were responding to the issue-based questions with relatively the same answers, which was no surprise since we are both from the militant political parties in our respective campuses. There were also personal questions, and questions which were deliberately and hilariously out-of-this-world.

After the first grilling, it was lunch time. Chaba and I were isolated from the rest of the assembly, so as not to tarnish the integrity of the student councils’ votes, apparently. So the both of us had lunch in a separate table with our chaperon. An hour after, the entire campus was on black-out, so the assembly was called off till electricity came back.

To kill time, we walked from the CFOS Auditorium down this concrete path to the beach, where we stared into the ocean for around an hour. Several members of some student councils did the same thing and played on the sand.

By 3 PM, the assembly resumed. It was then time for the individual grilling, and it was Chaba who went first. While she was being questioned by the assembly, I had to be isolated so I was taken around by our chaperon for the day. I was able to catch a half-hour nap at the Executive House, too.

After almost two hours, it was my turn. I was grilled for around an hour and a half. Honestly, and I hope you understand, by that time my reservations and doubts about the entire Student Regent thing came back. I wasn’t supposed to say it out loud but eventually when a colleague of mine posed the last question, “how would you feel if you don’t get chosen as Student Regent?” I just had to answer it honestly. I said, well, definitely hindi ako malulungkot. Short of saying matutuwa ako, I said I’d focus on law school and still take part in various student campaigns. Then I blurted off something about me being prepared but still wanting of commitment and passion to perform the duties of a Student Regent. I added, in Tagalog, that I’d not be any less confident with Chaba as Student Regent, as the outgoing Chairperson of the UPLB University Student Council, her experiences with their repressive administration equips her very well for the position. Bang told me I shouldn’t have done that, I practically wrote myself off and threw in the towel right before the student councils made the vote. I don’t know, perhaps I should’ve maintained the candidate-facade, but I was just being honest, couldn’t help it.

It was dinner time after the grilling, then it was the unit caucuses of the student councils. Chaba and I were again isolated from the rest of the assembly. I was able to catch another nap at the Executive House before we were ushered back into the auditorum for the announcement of the vote.

Eventually, the GASC unanimously selected Chaba as the Student Regent to represent the students in the University’s Board of Regents. Right after the announcement, we immediately got into business and Chaba, as the incoming Student Regent, had her first consultation assembly with the GASC.

[Photos by the Manila Collegian]