I shall write more about my law school experience

I shall start to attempt writing down chronicles of my stay in law school. Perhaps it can be a way for me to totally imbibe the law school routine. Sometimes I feel like the reason why I don’t blog much about my experiences in law school is that I feel like everything is just some negligible routine which I don’t bother remembering for posterity. Up until now, I still don’t feel like I totally want to become a lawyer. I just struggle my way in the College of Law one day at a time, without fixating on the finish line or the thought of graduating too much. It’s difficult enough to think about getting by each week, after all. But that’s not right. I’m on my second year, and there’s no turning back.

Anyway, certainly there are things you don’t appreciate till they’re gone. This won’t be another Cory Aquino-related blog entry, though. (God bless her soul as the nation escorts her to her final resting place today).

Yesterday the entire air-conditioning system of the College was down. It was like some inconvenient server crash. Some people know how much I sweat, often more than others. Needless to say, I was sweating profusely in my two classes. To make things worse, I got called for recitation and I was largely unprepared. And even more unfortunately, it was one of those sessions when I was the only one who was called to recite during the entire two-hour lecture. It was just one of those days. I got by, nonetheless, with lucky guesses and my classmates’ “radio coaching”.

In another matter, I’ve recently discovered the convenience of studying at Malcolm Hall’s student lounge. For the longest time since my freshman days, I always went to the library or to some coffee shop outside school to study during long breaks or after class. There seemed to be no other choice if I didn’t want to go home yet. However, the past weeks, since I lost my ID and the guard has blacklisted me from the library, I was forced to find an alternative academic hang-out, where I don’t have to buy anything. And then there was the student lounge at the ground floor. I always thought it was an exclusive tambayan for some law school cliques. Not quite, really. It was a homey, air-conditioned lounge complete with couches and other fixtures. Pretty neat.

Wow. This entry sounds quite mundane! Well, it’s a start. Hopefully if I get the hang of this, I shall write about some (academic) lessons learned, too, not only so that I could share them with everyone, but so I could recall them more easily, perhaps, (because I would be forced to digest legal doctrines and cases, unless you want me to write lengthily about them).

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

Anti-ConAss rallies in Makati and UP Diliman

Right after lunch time, students, teachers and other members of the University of the Philippines community in Diliman gathered at Quezon Hall to hold a short program and a press conference to condemn the moves of President Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives to convene itself into a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) to amend the 1987 Constitution.

ConAss is not what the country needs. Charter change will not address the youth’s problems with regard to education and job opportunities. We cannot allow this move to push through, seeing it as an initial step in a political scheme to prolong the Arroyo administration’s hold on power. We have witnessed how Arroyo and her allies have betrayed the aspirations of the youth and the rest of the Filipino people for a better government and a better life, and we must reject any move that is simply meant to prolong our agony.

Wala tayong maaasahang pagbabago habang nandiyan si Gloria Arroyo. Either we oust her soon or we boot her and her allies out of office through the 2010 elections.

Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09)

After the program at Quezon Hall, the UP Diliman contingent marched along University Avenue to Philcoa where groups of students and teachers boarded buses and jeepneys to go to the large rally at Makati. I was with my friends from the incoming University Student Council and my blockmates in Law.

Upon reaching Ayala, we walked towards the intersection of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenues where thousands of protesters converged for the rally. Several representatives from political groups, including opposition politicians spoke against ConAss. Several bands also played music as an expression of outrage against ConAss. Students from different universities, and out of school youths broke into discussion groups and turned Paseo de Roxas into a large classroom discussing the socio-political situation of the country. The rally ended promptly at eight in the evening.

Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09) Anti-ConAss Rally (Jun. 10, '09)

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.

Just keep studying

For some days the past two weeks, I’ve been spending half the day at the Main Library in Diliman studying for my exams in UP Law. It’s something I thought of doing just to get away from the usual routine of reading at the Law library, or spending afternoons at fancy coffee shops.

Being among undergrad students bring back a feeling of fondness, and it’s making me look forward to taking my backlog undergraduate subjects this summer. Yes, I wouldn’t be able to have much free time this summer vacation, but I couldn’t care less. There are some things I’m willing to let go of just so I can feel like an undergrad again. Nakaka-miss. Continue reading

STAND-UP campaign trail ’09 (Part III)

One of the more traditional yet integral parts of the student council election campaign is the dorm tour, where dorm assemblies and debates are held every night at UP Diliman’s numerous dormitories.

For a week, the parties and the candidates go on two dormitory assemblies every night to deliver their campaign line, present their program, plans of action, and well, succumb to whatever questions or tasks the residents ask the candidates to do. Dorm assemblies also serve as opportunities where parties usually get to debate and well, hurl accusations and pose questions and challenges to each other. Continue reading