PRESENTATION TO THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION
UP- WIDE DEMOCRATIZATION MOVEMENT 3
(UP WIDEM 3)
November 26, 2007
Presented by Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo, Ph.D
Convenor, UP Widem 3
All-UP Academic Employees Union
UP WIDEM or University-Wide Democratization Movement has been at the forefront of the struggle for a relevant and democratic UP Charter since 1991. Over the decades, it has had three incarnations – first, during UP President Abueva’s administration and second, during the 12th and 13th Congresses when Charter proposals were discussed. In these instances, the alliance has served as the voice of a legitimate constituency who has consistently pushed for democratic governance in the University. Its advocacy in the 12th Congress even resulted in the violent dispersal of its protest action in the Senate in September 9, 2003 and the arrest of ten students and three faculty members who were part of the movement.
In the present 14th Congress, UP WIDEM 3, composed of the union of the academic personnel (All-UP Academic Employees Union), the union of the administrative staff (The All-UP Workers Union), the Student Regent, the system-wide alliance of UP students organizations, the Philippine Collegian and concerned individuals has again convened to continue to advocate for a UP Charter in the 21st century that will remove the colonial and elitist system of governance of its original charter that characterized UP’s first 100 years, strengthen UP as the premier state university in the service of the nation and expand democratic access to quality but accessible public tertiary education.
The advocacy of the alliance is based on two basic 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. With the recent approval by the Board of Regents of a 300% salary increase in tuition and the University’s tie ups with big local corporations and foreign entities involving UP property, the principle of democratic access includes opposition to the further commercialization and corporatization of the university.
Our position on SBNs 132,158,1540, 1700
We have studied the Senate bills on the UP Charter. SBN 132 filed by Senator Pangilinan, SBN 158 filed by Sen. Estrada, SBN 1540 filed by Sen. Zubiri and SBN 1700 filed by Sen. Pia Cayetano are similar to the bill passed by the Senate in the 13th Congress. UP Widem 3 strongly opposes many provisions in these bills, including but not limited to the following:
1. The system of governance, in essence retains the current system of a small group of people, the Board of Regents as the highest policy making body without clear provisions for accountability. The only concessions are the inclusion of a Staff Regent who will serve for a term of two years and the lengthening of the terms of office of the Faculty Regent to two years. The bills even have a provision of extending the term of the UP President from the current maximum of one term of six years to two terms, longer than that of the President of the Republic of the Philippines under the 1987 Constitution.
2. The bills give extraordinary powers to the BOR to “plan, design, approve and/or cause the implementation of contracts, mechanisms and financial instrument such as joint ventures, long-term leases, fully-owned subsidiaries, securitization” and even the sale of UP’s land grants and other properties.
3. The bills also limit what are referred to as “academic core zones”, areas within UP campuses that can be used for academic purposes, which turns them into islands of education swimming in the sea of commercial establishments.
4. They also give the UP administration the unrestricted right to raise tuition and other fees and use the funds generated in whatever way it deems fit.
5. The bills also tie academic research to the needs of the business sector and allow for the intervention of private big business entities such as the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), Investment House Association of the Philippines (IHAP), Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) in the University’s management.
6. The bills do not guarantee the existence of student publications but merely recognize the right of students to have their own publications
Our position on SBNs 1236 and 1871
On the other hand, SB 1236 (Sen. Escudero) which is similar to the version passed by the House of Representatives in the 13th Congress, and SB 1871 (Sen. Villar) which is similar to the version passed on second reading by the HOR last October 2007, have provisions that are consistent with the stand of UP Widem 3.
1. While the bills do not provide substantial changes in the powers and composition of the BOR, the bills call for the establishment of Consultative Assemblies (CA) for the whole UP System created at the college, university, and system levels composed of elected representatives from the students, faculty, research and extension personnel, and administrative staff. While consultative in nature, these consultative assemblies can be used as forums to write and promote agreed positions of the University’s democratic community on issues and policies important to the University. In addition, the Villar bill ensures representation of the research, extension and professional staff (REPS), the non-teaching academic sector of the University in the BOR through a REPS Regent.
2. Villar’s bill contains a provision on democratic access to the university
( Section 9) which calls for the University to take affirmative actions to enhance access of academically but economically disadvantaged students including valedictorians of public high schools.
3. The two bills protect the rights of the student body by institutionalizing student councils and campus publications.
4. The two bills, and especially Villar’s bill, (Section 23, (c)) contain safeguards against the acceleration of the commercialization of UP by explicitly stating that “revenues and other resources from land grants and other real properties entrusted to the University shall be consistent with the University’s academic mission and orientation as the national state university as well as protect the University from undue influence and control of commercial interests”; that such programs and projects “shall be approved by the Board subject to a transparent and democratic process of consultation with the University’s constituents” and that “funds generated from such programs, projects or mechanisms shall not be meant to replace in part or in whole, the annual appropriations provided by the national government.
The issue of salary increases for UP’s personnel
UPWidem 3 appreciates the recognition by all the sponsors of the UP Charter bills of the inadequacy of UP salaries. SBNs 132, 158 ,SBN 1540, and 1700 propose to address this by giving the BOR the power to “draw up a position classification and compensation plan for its faculty and staff, and to fix and adjust salaries and benefits of the faculty members and other employees” . SBNs 1236 and 1700 address this through giving the BOR the power to grant special allowances to the faculty up to a maximum amount equivalent to two hundred percent (200%) of their basic monthly salary. (The two latter bills however, leave out the REPS and administrative staff in this provision) While we support the need for salary increase for UP personnel, UP Widem 3 opposes the provision that the source of the proposed salary increase is through internally generated income as it will translate to unending tuition fee increases making UP education unreachable to lower income students and the further acceleration of the commercialization of UP, where everything has a price. Our stand is firm on this issue. We will not agree to sell the soul of the University in order to earn the just level of compensation that the state should be providing us as part of our rights but we will continue to push for higher salaries for UP personnel and other government employees in other venues.
UP as the national state university
We support the characterization of UP as the national state university contained in SBN 1871(Villar). “National state university” captures the national character of UP in terms of geographic scope, its service to the nation and its place as the premier university of the country. It is important for us that the “national state university” also captures and retains UP’s character as a state-funded tertiary institution.
UP Widem 3 trusts in the good wisdom of our Senators to listen to the wide and legitimate constituency that the alliance represents. Democracy in the University can only be attained if it is practiced in the course of drafting its new charter in the hallowed halls of Congress.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in Oct 27th 2007