UPLB students start classes with protest vs pending USC chair proclamation, educ crisis


June 13, 2012

Class opening at the University of the Philippines Los Banos was welcomed with a rally today demanding for the immediate proclamation of University Student Council-UPLB (USC-UPLB) Chairperson-elect Ynik Ante and “challenging Iskolars ng Bayan to respond on ‘education crisis’ aggravated by continuous cutbacks on education budget.”

Some 300 UPLB students led by Kabataan Party-list Southern Tagalog began distributing their flyers on the annual breakfast treat to the university’s freshman students, followed by a program at the College of Arts and Sciences steps and a protest march from UPLB to Junction, Los Banos, Laguna.

Ante’s proclamation is still pending after the electoral board’s attempt to bar her from running in the campus election and from assuming her post due to late payment of tuition. The university’s chancellor, however, has already expressed his endorsement of Ante’s proclamation amid students’ continuing support on the latter.

“The prevention of Ante’s proclamation as the legal and legitimate USC-UPLB chair is a disrespect of both the integrity of the election process and the students’ decision,” said Ma. Cristina Madeja, chairperson of the party-alliance Samahan ng Kabataan para sa Bayan (SAKBAYAN), UP’s widest student alliance of 60 student organizations. Ante was SAKBAYAN’s standard bearer for the UPLB student council elections on February.

“The intervention on the students’ activity is part of the long history of campus repression in UPLB,” Madeja continued referring to the then Office of Student Affairs Director Vivian Gonzales, a reserved colonel, as the one behind the pending proclamation of Ante. “(Gonzales) is the culprit of various repressive policies, such as tambayan phaseout, suspension of organization’s officers, intervention on internal operations of student council and publications and non-proclamation of winners in student council elections,” she pointed out.

Ante stressed that ‘campus repression’ happens because there are UPLB constituents, like SAKBAYAN that are “conscious and brave enough to stand against policies that trample our right to a quality and accessible education.”

“We welcome the freshman students with the warmest salutation as the new iskolar ng bayan. Our mass action today aims to educate and inform them of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to education, democratic right to freely express their sentiments, freely assemble and freely organize,” Ante said.

The same students also protest various schemes of tuition hike, such as UP’s Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program that requires students to pay P1,500 per unit, amounting to a 50 percent tuition hike. They slam Mr. Benigno Aquino III’s budget cut on education and other social services that left UP with almost P13-billion budget deficit.

“Amidst Aquino government’s futility to prioritize education in the national budget allocation, we pledge a more serious campaign to lobby in congress and protest for higher state subsidy on education and other basic social services,” Ante said.

Madeja said that the protest today is the commencement of a series of activities that will culminate in their participation in the “people’s state of the nation address (SONA)” along with Aquino’s on July 23. #


UPLB students start classes with protest vs pending USC chair proclamation, educ crisis

June 13, 2012


Class opening at the University of the Philippines Los Banos was welcomed with a rally today demanding for the immediate proclamation of University Student Council-UPLB (USC-UPLB) Chairperson-elect Ynik Ante and “challenging Iskolars ng Bayan to respond on ‘education crisis’ aggravated by continuous cutbacks on education budget.”

Some 300 UPLB students led by Kabataan Party-list Southern Tagalog began distributing their flyers on the annual breakfast treat to the university’s freshman students, followed by a program at the College of Arts and Sciences steps and a protest march from UPLB to Junction, Los Banos, Laguna.

Ante’s proclamation is still pending after the electoral board’s attempt to bar her from running in the campus election and from assuming her post due to late payment of tuition. The university’s chancellor, however, has already expressed his endorsement of Ante’s proclamation amid students’ continuing support on the latter.

“The prevention of Ante’s proclamation as the legal and legitimate USC-UPLB chair is a disrespect of both the integrity of the election process and the students’ decision,” said Ma. Cristina Madeja, chairperson of the party-alliance Samahan ng Kabataan para sa Bayan (SAKBAYAN), UP’s widest student alliance of 60 student organizations. Ante was SAKBAYAN’s standard bearer for the UPLB student council elections on February.

“The intervention on the students’ activity is part of the long history of campus repression in UPLB,” Madeja continued referring to the then Office of Student Affairs Director Vivian Gonzales, a reserved colonel, as the one behind the pending proclamation of Ante. “(Gonzales) is the culprit of various repressive policies, such as tambayan phaseout, suspension of organization’s officers, intervention on internal operations of student council and publications and non-proclamation of winners in student council elections,” she pointed out.

Ante stressed that ‘campus repression’ happens because there are UPLB constituents, like SAKBAYAN that are “conscious and brave enough to stand against policies that trample our right to a quality and accessible education.”

“We welcome the freshman students with the warmest salutation as the new iskolar ng bayan. Our mass action today aims to educate and inform them of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to education, democratic right to freely express their sentiments, freely assemble and freely organize,” Ante said.

The same students also protest various schemes of tuition hike, such as UP’s Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program that requires students to pay P1,500 per unit, amounting to a 50 percent tuition hike. They slam Mr. Benigno Aquino III’s budget cut on education and other social services that left UP with almost P13-billion budget deficit.

“Amidst Aquino government’s futility to prioritize education in the national budget allocation, we pledge a more serious campaign to lobby in congress and protest for higher state subsidy on education and other basic social services,” Ante said.

Madeja said that the protest today is the commencement of a series of activities that will culminate in their participation in the “people’s state of the nation address (SONA)” along with Aquino’s on July 23. #



Statement of the UP Student Regent: Respect the students’ choice for chairperson of the UPLB USC

By Diego Torres, Kartunista-Manunulat Kolektib

With full faith in the electorate of UP Los Banos, the Office of the Student Regent will recognize Ynik Ante the chairperson of their University Student Council. Ms Ante won the elections held 22-24 February 2012 by 36 votes.

The disqualification case against Ms Ante, who had unpaid tuition until the time of the election, should no longer be entertained by the College Electoral Board (CEB) of UP Los Banos for both technical and substantial grounds. Per records of the University Registrar, Ms Ante was enrolled last semester.

Late payment of tuition should not be used to undermine the position of any student committed to be involved so fully in UP’s academic and extra-curricular offerings. Such circumstance is one many UP students have found themselves in, with UP tuition’s rise to almost five times the minimum wage.

No law or precedent will correctly stand to the position to consider the election as if Ms Ante’s name had not been present on the ballot. Nullifying votes already cast for her nullifies the vote entirely. Thus, the proposal of the CEB to declare the runner up as chairperson is baseless.

For guidance in future elections, the OSR stands that the mere pendency of a disqualification case against a candidate who had been allowed into a ballot does not justify the suspension of proclamation after winning in the election. To hold otherwise would unduly encourage the filing of baseless and malicious petitions for disqualification if only to effect the suspension of the proclamation of the winning candidate. In the end, this defeats the sovereign will of the electorate and unduly benefits undeserving third parties.

We call on the CEB of UP Los Banos – all college secretaries and student council chairpersons – to uphold the UP tradition of open-mindedness and democracy, and to proclaim Ms Ante as chairperson of the UPLB USC as soon as possible.

Hopefully, this serves as a fitting challenge to Ms Ante, the students’ choice, along with the duly-elected USC, to pay off lost time and to release the distress and disappointment, with magnified commitment to serve their constituency.

All the best, for a better UP.

KRISSY CONTI

Outgoing Student Regent

CLEVE ARGUELLES

Incoming Student Regent

1 June 2012