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]

Student Regent Selection ’09 (Part 1)

April 13, 2009. I took the first flight to Iloilo City to attend the GASC’s (General Assembly of Student Councils) Student Regent Selection Meet at UP Visayas in Miag-ao, Iloilo.

My colleagues in UP Diliman’s student councils chose to send me as the nominee from Diliman. There are only two nominees this year, the other one is Chaba Banez, outgoing chairperson of the UP Los Banos University Student Council. She ended up being selected as UP’s Student Regent for this year after just one day of deliberations in the GASC.

Anyway, before we get to that, last April 13, I had to manage my way from Iloilo City to Miag-ao, since everyone else had gone there the previous day to attend the KASAMA sa UP (Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP) National Council Meet. I did not expect the Miag-ao campus to be quite a distance from Iloilo City. It was an almost two-hour bus ride from the city to Miag-ao, Iloilo. Bang and I arrived in UPV Miag-ao way past afternoon, and we barely caught up with the rest of the KASAMA sa UP meet.

It’s not just a Plan B or C

A few weeks ago, my colleagues in the UP Diliman University Student Council and representatives from the College Student Councils in Diliman deliberated among each other and chose to send me as the Student Regent nominee of UP Diliman to the UP System-wide Student Regent selection tomorrow in UP Miag-ao in Iloilo.

Hay, the things I [allow myself to] get into. I don’t know how to plan my life for this year anymore. With all these present uncertainties and possibilities. I’m just very indecisive right now. I don’t know which ones to do, which to drop, which to prioritize. Let’s see what will happen. So it’s off to Iloilo for me today for a KASAMA sa UP (Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP) National Congress then for the SR Selection sessions of the General Assembly of [UP] Student Councils (GASC).

See you all when I get back. I’m pasting below a short essay I wrote after some of my law blockmates nominated me with the College of Education Student Council endorsing the nomination.

As the next hundred years of the University of the Philippines begins, it is faced with challenges that confront its nationalist history and opportunities to reaffirm its pro-people and pro-student character.

We are at a time when education in the University is becoming increasingly inaccessible to a vast majority of Filipinos. Despite a one-year freeze on a supposed annual tuition hike, laboratory fee increases are pending across the board in almost all UP units. Student organizations, catalysts of student involvement in campus, are being challenged through imposed policies and requirements that essentially limit their freedom. Despite an increase in the capital outlay budget of the University, the government severely decreased UP’s maintenance and operating budget.

These are just a few of the issues that will confront the next Student Regent.

We are also at the juncture of time, however, when, due to the recently and successfully concluded CRSRS Referendum, there is heightened awareness with the Office of the Student Regent, its tasks and function, and its history. We are at a time when students’ involvement with the issues of the Student Regent is unprecedented. It is a great opportunity to reaffirm the Student Regent’s role among iskolars ng bayan.

Indeed, this is the year when great expectations are demanded from the Student Regent, and when great opportunities are present. This year is an opportune time for the Student Regent to harness the heightened awareness into increased involvement. This is a great opportunity for the Student Regent and his Office, to reach out to the widest number of students, through genuine and effective means of consultation and communication, and engage the students in matters that directly affect their lives as iskolars ng bayan.

More than ever, this is a time for the Student Regent to be more transparent, accessible, accountable and attuned to his constituents. The Student Regent, notwithstanding geographic limitations, must be accessible to iskolars ng bayan in all UP campuses. He must take advantage of effective and modern means of information & communication technologies and must devote time and resources to be physically present whenever it is imperative, through regular campus-hopping. The Student Regent must strengthen present mechanisms, through institutions like the historical KASAMA sa UP but be also more open to students and student groups who may decide to pursue alternative formations.

He should create innovative mechanisms for students to air their grievances to the BOR. He must also ensure the presence of devoted liaison officers and volunteers in every UP campus, distinct from the student council but in coordination with them, in order to effectively and efficiently mount campaigns and projects in a university system that spans the entire archipelago.

The Student Regent must also be accountable and transparent. He must constantly communicate his agenda through regular press releases to be published in campus papers, and via communication lines through the internet. For this purpose, the Student Regent may also maintain an interactive website to ensure access to information that pertain to the BOR’s agenda.

The Student Regent must also not only represent and ensure the rights of present students of the University but of every Filipino aspiring to enter UP, and for all Filipinos who look up to the University as an agent of change and as an incubator of the nation’s progress. Decisions passed by the Board of Regents are policies that shape the destiny of UP and affect present and more so, future UP students. Policies in UP are also echoed among many other public institutions of higher learning across the country, and affect every Filipino’s chance of achieving formal higher education. As such, the Student Regent must always and continue to be grounded on the principles of accessible education for all Filipinos, especially whenever he is confronted with the many issues that tend to limit access to this inalienable right.

The Student Regent must be unwavering in his principles, despite adversity or animosity, for he must recognize that the University exists at a time when the government’s standing policy is to decrease spending on higher education, more so this year when it is bound to implement and fulfill the objectives of its Long-term Higher Education Development Plan 2010. He must also recognize that he exists in an arena largely controlled by administrators and politicians. He must not be cowed by administrative pressure, and not be afraid to expose irregularities in the administration where they exist.

Despite these, the Student Regent must also know how to strike a balance and to cooperate, whenever possible, with allies in the administration and the government, to gain tactical victories and ensure that the rights and interests of present and future UP students are not compromised at the altar of vested interests.

Most importantly, however, the Student Regent must recognize the potency of the collective strength of the tens of thousands of UP students he represents. He must draw inspiration from them, and learn from the history of collective action.

Through this vision he must ensure that UP students themselves, together with his humble but dignified representation in the BOR, and the rest of the student institutions such as the student councils, will chart their own destiny in the University and the nation. With all humility, I submit this vision for the Office of the Student Regent as a nominee for the position of Student Regent.

Crumble their deception!

Leadership and unity, as propounded by some political formations in campus, can never be conceived by mere grand statements and more so, claimed in the absence of praxis. For such calls must always be situated in conditions that manifestly surround us.

Indeed, more recently, we have emerged victorious in our fight against a vicious attempt by the administration and its cohorts in the person of false student leaders, that tried to rob us of our representation in university governance and tested the power of our concerted action. It is important to note that it was only STAND-UP which has been firm in its struggle for genuine student representation by defending the Office of the Student Regent, while other political groups have collaborated to further their own selfish interests and hunger for power in the guise of flawed calls for “democratization” and “student participation”.

It is in light of this that we challenge ALYANSA and KAISA to go beyond the confines of their deceptive and misguided advocacies through an honest assessment of their actions in the past years. True leaders, after all, are judged not by their seemingly noble yet hollow declarations in a desperate effort to gain public approval, but by their concrete efforts to unite with their people armed with the sharpest of principles and a clear course of action. As such, the formations must be exposed for the populist and vacillating groups that they truly are.

ALYANSA contends to “define leadership” by invoking a “shared purpose” and the “timeless ideals of integrity and service”. Yet, it is this same group and their allies serving in student councils who obstinately demanded that their own proposed changes to the Student Regent selection rules be subjected to the recently concluded referendum, without consideration for the equally significant positions of other student councils.

It is this same group which originally supported the tuition increase in UP, only to retract their position after belatedly realizing its dire effects on the majority of incoming students. It is this same group that has been gravely silent on major local issues, like dwindling state subsidy and the consequent lab fee increases, administration repression against UP professors Sarah Raymundo and Judy Taguiwalo, and widespread demolitions of UP communities.

Similarly, KAISA now asks us to “unite” and make a “difference”. It must be remembered, however, that they have also been active in campaigning for the failure of the Student Regent referendum without realizing the danger of losing the Office of the Student Regent with such position.

KAISA has long been evidently absent in most of the major student campaigns, and such failure to make a principled stance forebodes ill of the kind of change they now forward. Certainly, this is not the kind of “difference” we would like to be part of.

Ultimately, both ALYANSA and KAISA have undermined the power of our collective action, to the extent of dismissing the same as a mere illusion.

We are now called upon to realize that the democratic rights we now enjoy as students, the institutions and agencies we have been privileged with, were all borne of consolidated efforts to rise against tyrannical interventions, precisely what the 12 years of the history of STAND-UP unwaveringly represent.

Anakbayan united with student organizations in giving full support to STAND-UP in the coming student council elections. Once again, we will not let their deception vitiate the validity and potency of our collective action.

Strengthen our unity! Advance our struggle for greater victories!

Strengthen our unity! Advance our struggle for greater victories!

Last week, we secured the historic success of the CRSRS (Codified Rules on Student Regent Selection) Referendum, a process that drew over 26,000 students from all over the nation, a resounding 73% if which voted yes. This is the epic triumph of all iskolar ng bayan who responded to the clarion call of the times, heeding the need to defend that most basic of civil liberties — fair representation.

Our success in the referendum attests to three things: that efforts to discredit the mandate of the Office of the Student Regent — an institution that is borne and continues to assume the democratic struggle of the students — will end in futility; that attempts to place student representation at the crux of uncertainty will fail at the gates of our collective dissent; and finally, that we are ready to overcome divisions so that higher battles may be fought and won over. Indeed, both the UP administration and the state have evolved mechanisms to thwart our democratic rights, covertly attacking student formations and institutions. Yet no assault can withstand the strength of our united stance; our collective resolve shall always persist and prevail.

The referendum, however, is just one of a series of victories. Last year, we were able to set a dialogue with UP Pres. Emerlinda Roman, resulting in the barring of Provision 444 of the 2006 UP Code, which unduly prohibits sectarian organizations. Through UMAKSYON, an alliance of student formations against commercialization, we exposed exorbitant and pending fee increases from the colleges of Engineering, Mass Communication, Human Kinetics, Economics, and Education.

We also forged inter-unit alliances to assist other UP units in their campaigns. For instance, following strong pressure from students systemwide, UP Los Baños Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco finally recanted his earlier stance to bar the university student elections, resulting in the highest voter turn-out of 70.53% in UPLB after seven months of delay.

We also made a deep mark in national affairs, mobilizing some of the largest number of students, professors, workers and other sectors to protest the depravity of the current Gloria Arroyo regime. We lead in the convening of the national youth alliance, Youth ACT Now, to press for truth and accountability from the government, especially after the $329 million NBN-ZTE scandal.

In all these, the iskolar ng bayan was a critical participant in the shaping of issues both local and national in scope. For in a time of conflict, where opposing ideas contend to determine the order of society, it is all the more crucial to stand for the voiceless and marginalized. This is why, in its 100 years of existence, UP has stood as a stronghold of activism.

STRENGTHEN OUR UNITY
At this juncture, we recognize the long, arduous road ahead; there are grave concerns that we have yet to confront. Even as the global economic crisis deepens, with over 1 million Filipinos jobless, the thrust of the government is still aligned with the blatant neglect of social services.

Our response, then, is to glean lessons form previous victories to guide us in present confrontations. Today, battles continue to be fought. The ferocity of struggles we wage within and outside the university is crucial in the resolution of social ills that have kept many deprived. We should not hesitate in the fulfillment of such vital responsibility.

As past events demonstrate, only the collective action of students can counter the regime’s systematic attempts to abandon the education sector at the behest of commercial and corporate interests. Let us summon, therefore, the spirit of collective indignation. Let us rebuke authorities who occupy the highest echelon of government, but do not serve the common interests of the people. Let us break the bonds of apathy and silence, and instead, claim the nation’s destiny as our own. Let the force of our united dissent reverberate through the halls, inside the classrooms, and in all corners of the university.

ADVANCE OUR STRUGGLE FOR GREATER VICTORIES
Thus, we look on to the future, resolute in the struggle for our student rights, and those of other marginalized sectors.

We shall amplify our fight for added state subsidy, and assert our legitimate right for accessible and quality education. We have endured dilapidated facilities and equipment, and declining university services due to reduced state subsidy. But we share an abiding desire to end this imposed scarcity, seeing that budget cuts have proven disastrous for UP.

We will push for democratic access of education, especially for the brightest and poorest of our youth. We are steadfast in the belief that education is a universal right, in which each of us has a claim. It is tragic irony when solons refuse to provide adequate funding for education but, in the same breath, condone the lavish misallocation of resources to military spending and corruption.

We will expose commercialization as a scheme that merely reinforces state abandonment. The government has maliciously approved various policies that erode the basic rights of the people. Through the Long Term Higher Education Plan (LTHEDP), exorbitant tuition and other fees have been imposed, despite the intense hardship of the Filipino people. But we know that once commercial interests pervade the university, profit-making — not academic pursuit or democratic access — becomes the overriding concern. That is anathema to the needs of the Filipino people who, at the very least, deserve a relief from the excessive fees that have kept them from receiving education, a right that is duly theirs in the first place.

Hence, our principal task is to advance our struggle for democratic rights, in the perspective of attaining a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education. Let us condemn state abandonment by opposing the UP tuition policy while simultaneously insisting on greater state subsidy.

Let us fight the commercialized and repressive nature of neoliberal education by renouncing its manifestations — such as exorbitant fees, scarce resources and services, attacks on student representation, and the lack of tambayans and even the unfair procedure for the recognition of student organizations. On this historic platform, we will not be silent or passive.

History tells the story of a great struggle for democratic rights. That struggle is alive and well today, in each of the thousands of youths who will stand for justice, freedom, and ultimately, real and encompassing democracy.

Iskolar ng Bayan Pag-aralan ang lipunan Paglingkuran ang Sambayanan

UP students ratify student regent selection rules

The referendum for the selection rules of the Student Regent has finally concluded successfully after months of logistical preparations and campaigns, of bitter debates and divisive partisan propaganda. The iskolar ng bayan can now be assured that we will be able to select our sole representative to the Board of Regents in a month or two to uphold our interests amidst intensifying schemes of commercialization and amidst threats of new rounds of tuition and laboratory fee increases. We have once again proven that students united will never be defeated. Here’s to greater victory in defending our rights!

UP Campus YES % NO %
UP Baguio 1,680 98.4 14 0.8
UP Diliman 7,147 63.2 4,031 35.6
UP Diliman in Pampanga 371 90.9 29 7.1
UP Los Banos 4,025 79.5 982 19.4
UP Manila 1,500 54.5 1,243 45.1
UP Manila in Baler, Aurora 54 93.1 3 5.7
UP Manila in Palo, Leyte 105 68.2 42 27.3
UP Mindanao 737 98.4 4 0.5
UP Open University 54 64.3 18 21.4
UP Visayas Cebu College 767 90.7 74 8.8
UP Visayas Iloilo City 532 94.7 23 4.1
UP Visayas Miag-ao 878 89.7 71 7.3
UP Visayas Tacloban 403 61.4 249 38.0
TOTAL 18,253 72.1 6,783 26.8

Unity in securing our representation

A referendum is essentially a good thing. But this referendum doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It comes at a time when there is a pending proposal in Congress to cut UP’s maintenance and operating budget in 2009 by PhP 200+ million, which will justify another round of tuition and lab fee increases. It comes at a time when the administration, through UP President Roman, admitted on cable television the strong possibility of increasing tuition once again.

The SR (Student Regent) has traditionally stood against these whenever he sits at the BOR (Board of Regents), an arena dominated by administrators and political appointees. The referendum, I believe, is a cunning way to challenge the presence of the SR in the BOR, and effectively neutralize the representation especially at this crucial juncture of our university’s history.

Think of an ordinary organization seeking recognition from the OSA (Office of Student Affairs), in order to be eligible to use the university’s facilities. For more than a decade, this organization has existed with is own constitution and rules on selecting their organization officers. In a sudden turn of events, this year, before the OSA recognizes the organization, it asks the formation to submit its constitution and rules on selecting its organization officers to a referendum by all its members. It’s quite an added burden, which was largely unnecessary because of an already existing democratic and working mechanism. Perhaps it may not be a problem to ordinary organizations with around thirty members, but think of it this way, 60% of the members rarely show up at the tambayan. UP has 55,000+ students. Even in the most heated student council elections, turnout has never exceeded 50%. The administration knows this. It’s a challenge it knows will be difficult, logistically, for the students to fulfill. It’s the challenge that will give them the space to maneuver and to do what it seeks to implement while the selection of the SR is uncertain.

Some groups try to create the atmosphere that it’s okay for the referendum to fail because the OSR (Office of the Student Regent), as a public office, will not be abolished anyway and that the law abhors a vacancy in public office. True enough, the OSR will not be abolished, and that the current SR will remain in a hold-over position. However, for how long until the other members of the BOR challenge her presence? This propaganda line doesn’t take into consideration the historic tendency of the UP administration to intervene in what is supposed to be a purely student affair, whenever it suits its interests.

In 1991, President Abueva shunned the nominee chosen by the students and appointed his own SR. In 1999, the administration expelled the sitting SR from school, and consequently the BOR booted him out of the board, because he wasn’t a student anymore. These, despite the legalities that supposedly ensure student representation in the board.

Current SR Abdulwahid is a graduating student. She will cease to be a student in a few months. The administration and pro-administration groups can assure us all they want that there shall be no vacancy in the OSR but we all know what the administration has done and is capable of doing in order to take advantage of the situation in case of such a vacuum.

Fortunately, in 1999 a replacement was chosen after the student regent was ousted, but that was when the CRSRS was in practice and recognized. In the event of a failure of a referendum this year, there will be no mechanism to replace SR Shan, in case she ceases to be a student, or if, god forbid, something terrible happens to her. Indeed we will have an OSR, but we will be unable to choose a new SR. That’s where the vacancy comes in.

Granting without conceding that the law really abhors this vacancy, and that it won’t happen. And in case it does, we can file a case in court to assert our rights and our representation. This is exactly the kind of space pro-tuition increase administrators is seeking to roll the dice for another round of hikes.

Instead of the SR or the OSR and the students uniting in principle to oppose such moves, we shall be concerned still with validating and securing our representation in the board. That’s where the delay comes in.

I’m similarly frustrated, honestly. Student councils have bickered and campaigned for amendments last year. All of us had the chance from June to December to argue over this and I’m really disappointed that even after they have failed to gather popular support and to be accommodated, they insist on their political agenda and divide the students at a time when unity is imperative in securing our representation. Last year, from June to December, they campaigned for amendments and consulted with their constituents. There was very little favorable response among students. Ask for the qualitative and quantitative results of their consultations. There is no unbiased clamor for these amendments. The fact is that these amendments have been campaigned for year in and year out by the same political force who have their own interests in mind. Year in and year out, when the GASC convenes, these amendments are rejected by majority of student councils system-wide.

Last year, despite their effort to gather support for their amendments, the students aren’t biting. And what’s more, they didn’t submit their amendments on time, despite the fact that the mechanism for amendments wasn’t repealed by RA 9500 (the new UP Charter). I was personally willing to concede and accommodate whatever they want, even if I don’t agree with the merits of their arguments in favor of amendments. But given the results of their consultations, there really is no un-colored clamor for amendments even in their colleges. It really just comes from the same political force whose efforts are frustrated every year. All I see is blue and yellow. It almost makes them similar to pro-administration congressmen hell-bent on pushing for charter change without any clamor from the constituents they supposedly represent, except for the clamor within their frustrated political parties with vested interests.

I also want some amendments (albeit not the ones they push for), but I believe the time had past for all the bickering and arguing over them. We all had the chance, we all had the time, from June to December last year, to exercise our duties to consult our students. Pinag-awayan at pinagpuyatan na natin ang mga debate tungkol dito. Now is the time for us to unite in securing student representation in the BOR. If we really feel so strongly about amendments or whatnot, student councils can deliberate on it as early as April once the referendum has succeeded. If the referendum fails, wala rin naman tayong magiging arena to debate on these proposals.

Unwillingness to settle for this compromise is for me quite unreasonable–taking into consideration all the pressing issues we’re going to face in the next few months, from budget cuts to tuition increases. Putting it in another way, the willingness of some groups for this referendum to fail just because their amendments weren’t accommodated now (and justifiably so), at a time when we’re facing further attacks on our rights as students, is preposterous and selfish. We can’t afford uncertainty. We can’t afford any delay. It is imperative for us to secure student representation in the BOR now.

Yes to Student Representation!

For the most part of the university’s existence as a higher institution of learning, policies were crafted and imposed by the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest policy-making body in the university, without the students’ participation.

For the longest time, the BOR had no student representative–the university’s largest constituency long subjected to policies they didn’t see coming. Through sustained and collective efforts of the students, however, which began during the First Quarter Storm, heightened and intensified further during the dark years of Martial Law and beyond, the Office of the Student Regent (OSR) was established.

The OSR serves as the student-run institution where the Student Regent, the sole voting member of the BOR, who comes form the university’s largest sector, is seated. Instituted in 1986, it has served to uphold the interests of the students, voting and arguing on their behalf from issues ranging from appointments of deans to increases in laboratory fees and tuition.

The enactment of RA 9500 or the new UP Charter, however, endangers this institution, under the smokescreen of democratization, by actually subjecting a decade-old Student Regent selection process crafted by duly-elected student council representatives across the UP System and subjected to debates and amendments every year, to a terribly difficult challenge–a challenge that the administration cunningly knows, given the trend of student election turnouts, has the tendency to fail. UP, after all, has more than 55,000 students system-wide.

The failure of this challenge, a referendum with less than the required majority of voters’ turnout, will endanger the existence of the OSR. In the face of impending tuition increases, as President Roman herself mentioned in a recent TV interview, and other schemes of commercialization, the absence of the sole student representative in the BOR shall only serve the best interest of those who push for such policies–policies that the students and their Student Regent have traditionally stood up against.

It is at this juncture of time in our university that it is imperative for the students to once again link arms and unite in the struggle to defend the institution that ensures the rights and interests not only of present UP students but of future generations of iskolars ng bayan in an arena largely controlled by administrators and political appointees.

In the face of impending and further attacks on our democratic rights as students and the democratic rights of the people to accessible education, we must intensify our campaigns and broaden our ranks. Together, we shall prove once again that students united will never be defeated.

On January 26-31, participate in the system-wide referendum. Vote YES, defend the Office of the Student Regent!

Defend the Office of the Student Regent concert

I unfortunately wasn’t able to attend the anti-Charter change rally in Makati last December 12. We in KASAMA sa UP (Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP) needed all the manpower we had to set-up and prepare for the Defend the OSR concert that night.

The concert was organized by the Office of the Student Regent (OSR) and KASAMA sa UP, together with Philmusic Collective, to raise awareness and encourage participation in the campaign to defend the OSR in the upcoming system-wide referendum this January. We held it in front of the Faculty Center.

It was a successful event, albeit it was undeniably a very exhausting night for all the organizers. That same night we were also having a Student Regent Reunion at the UP Hotel.

Aside from running errands back and forth, one of my most interesting feats that night was producing a five-digit sum before ten in the evening, without touching my personal funds (which wasn’t enough anyway). Funny how we even came close to pawning a laptop to produce the money. We eventually pulled it off (without pawning anything).

Past midnight, I was experiencing a terrible migraine so I dropped asleep in the car till around four in the morning when the concert was about to end.

Defend the OSR Concert (Dec. 12, '08) Defend the OSR Concert (Dec. 12, '08) Defend the OSR Concert (Dec. 12, '08) Defend the OSR Concert (Dec. 12, '08) Defend the OSR Concert (Dec. 12, '08) Defend the OSR Concert (Dec. 12, '08)