Eroded Integrity of the UP BOR and Administration

I was once a member of the UP Board of Regents. We were the group of people who voted to seat Dr. Emerlinda Roman as the UP President to replace the retiring Dr. Francisco Nemenzo. That was in 2004.

I criticized the structure of the BOR. Along with the UP community, we sought to democratize decision-making in the beleaguered University of the Philippines by advocating democratization through the passage of the unit assemblies in the UP Charter. We believed that the BOR is far less accountable to the University because of its skewed composition (with six MalacaƱang appointees, including the CHED chair) and representation (only one Regent for student and faculty).

The erroneous decision of the UP BOR on December 15, which approved the proposed 300 percent tuition increase, manifested the indifference of the Board of Regents to the constituency they were supposed to represent. It came as natural as raindrops because of the inherent structure of the board. But that is not my main argument and point of reflection here.

Let me still work inside the framework of the Board. The BOR I knew was cautious and careful so as to build a sense of legitimacy in its decisions. This is important in an academic community where legitimacy comes from the ability of board decisions, policies, and actions to withstand highly adversarial and intellectual public scrutiny and debate. I realized that principle more when we elected the next UP President (that is, Dr. Roman).

I remember President Dodong Nemenzo’s reminder to the members of the Board then: come the time that we are to decide on the UP Presidency, we should be in no less than a perfect attendance. Meaning: twelve members present and voting. That we did.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with the present BOR leadership. Leaving the Student Regent and Faculty Regent behind, seven (7) members of the BOR convened covertly at the UP College of Law, after an abrupt and unannounced change of venue, and approved without objection the 300 percent tuition increase proposal. 20 minutes were all they needed to discuss and approve the proposal. CHED Chair Puno and Pres. Roman made JDV’s con-ass effort an LRT compared to their Maglev. Dr. Roman has just given a new operational definition to the word railroad.

The BOR and UP administration cannot only withstand public scrutiny and debate; they refused and evaded public scrutiny and debate. In the past years, the BOR has been barricaded in its meetings at UPLB, UP PGH and even at Quezon Hall, UP Diliman, and they faced the community squarely. But recently, they hid behind a bush and even barred those that they thought do not belong to the clique. Certainly, there is no legitimacy in their shrouded act.

The fact is, they cannot look at the iskolars ng bayan in the eye because their actions disregarded social responsibility and universality of education – principles that UP kept in its last 98 years of existence. Education in our country has all the more become the right of the few.

Now, my enthusiasm to the Centennial of UP in 2008 has gone. I expect grand pomp and pageantry, but the meaning has lost. Despite of this, I still have hope for the students, and selfless faculty and employees who continue to spread their arms like Oblation. Indeed, they are the true carriers of what we know as “UP”.

Tuloy ang Laban!


UP Student Regent (2004)

NUSP National President

21 December 2006

No comments: