Long, fearsome night

Last updated 01:23am (Mla time) 03/28/2007

Like any typical Filipino kid, I was taught to fear the darkness of the night. "Tikbalang," "aswang" and "kapre" were creatures that ate young kids strolling in dark alleys way past bedtime.

As I grew older (and stayed up late longer), I learned that drug addicts, snatchers and holdup men were to be feared more than the "aswang" in the dead of night. Boy, I must have grown so fast -- now I fear for the country more than I fear for myself in the dead of night. Let me explain by citing some of the incidents that led me to such fear:

• At 3 a.m. of March 19, 2007, detained Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Satur Ocampo was taken out of prison for a plane ride to Leyte. Anyway, the flight was aborted halfway.

• Past 11 p.m. of Dec. 29, 2006, convicted rapist Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith of the US Marines was surreptitiously transported from the Makati City Jail to the US Embassy.

• Twice the House of Representatives stayed up late till the early morning hours the next day to quash two attempts to impeach Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; and once to railroad Charter change.

Hell must be jubilant over Ms Arroyo’s leadership. After all, under her guidance, the government operates “like a thief in the night.” Unfortunately, every time the thief strikes, democracy suffers; and we are robbed of our rights and liberties.

With barely two months left before this year’s elections, I can’t help but worry that there is going on a sort of dress rehearsal for late-night operations come May. Oh yes, of course, three Sundays ago, a building of the Commission on Elections went up in smoke in the dead of night. I just hope this incident wouldn’t count.

But definitely, there are enough reasons for us to wake up from our deep slumber and keep the lights on through this long night.

National President
National Union of Students of the Philippines
Manifesto: Sign the ONLINE PETITION FOR KA SATUR CampaignsTo: Department of Justice and Philippine National Police


Free Satur Ocampo! End Political Repression!

We, parliamentarians and friends from different countries, express grave concern and great alarm over the arrest of Rep. Satur Ocampo, Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, who is currently campaigning for reelection under the opposition party Bayan Muna.

We fail to comprehend why a warrant of arrest was issued based on a criminal case for murder committed 22 years ago at the time when Satur was in prison during the martial law regime of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. We are also concerned why a 22 year-old case was resurrected during the campaign period at the time when Satur, a staunch critique of the government, is heading the campaign of his party for reelection. We are alarmed that Satur is not granted at least, his right to bail, since it is improbable that the evidence of his guilt is strong considering that the crime imputed is more than 2 decades old.

We are aware of the escalating political killings in the Philippines targeting members of opposition parties and government critiques. We were also informed of escalating harassment against them during the election period, and would like express our belief that opposition parties, including their leaders, must be allowed to campaign freely during the campaign period.

We express our deepest concern over these developments and urge the Philippine government to respect Saturs rights to due process. We urge the speedy release of Satur Ocampo from prison and that he and his party, and all opposition parties for that matter, be allowed to freely campaign. We call for a stop to the political killings and human rights violations in the Philippines.

*To sign the petition click here

PRESS RELEASE: UST Students Slam Admin Deception in the Fee Consultations

6 March 2007

“It was an attempt to fool the students.”

Thus said incoming Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council President JC Valeroso regarding the conduct of fee increase consultation in the
University of Sto Tomas a week ago.

The UST Administration issued a notice calling for a dialogue on February 26 between the Student Council Presidents and the Rector to talk about myriad issues and grievances with regard to tuition. It turned out that the dialogue was a tuition increase consultation for the next school year. The time and venue of the February 26 consultation was not stated in the said notice.

At the end of the one-sided meeting, the UST administration posted an 8.4 percent increase in their tuition.

“It was their long-crafted tactic to be able to implement anti-student policies. With this, the administration has once again committed blatant crime of depriving us, the students of our right to be consulted and right to be informed,” Valeroso said.

The questioned tuition increase in UST came a week after the controversial suspension of CHED Memo Order No. 14, which provided for a ceiling on the allowable school fee increase. CHED Chairman Carlito Puno has earlier defended their action saying that the suspension of the Memo is only for one year. In lieu of CMO 14, an old 1998 guideline was re-implemented – CMO 13.

“We already expected this to happen because of the suspension of the tuition increase ceiling – tuition increases will shoot up. Unfortunately, CHED is the one which encouraged the private schools for their ulterior motive for profit,” NUSP Executive Vice President Diana Directo explained. “Worse, that is at the expense of the students and their parents,” she added.

According to the student leaders, “the UST Administration violated both CMO 14 and CMO 13, but this whole hullabaloo can be attributed to the whimsical and biased action of CHED,” Directo said.

The Thomasian student leaders who led the campaign against the incessant fee increases were charged with violations against the Student Conduct and Discipline, particularly prohibiting students from engaging in assemblies, boycotts, and marches. However, it seems that they are far from being cowed.

“We will file counter-charges against UST for implementing an unconstitutional policy. We are, in fact, getting more support,” Valeroso finally said. ###

Student leaders plan filing of TRO against CHED's suspension of Tuition Cap

Alleges possible Malacañang intervention

1 March 2007

"The lifting by CHED of the tuition cap to appease school owners reeks of Malacañang's intervention and we students will stop at nothing to ensure that this injustice is corrected."

This was the statement today of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) secretary-general Alvin Peters when he revealed plans by the students to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) against CHED's Memorandum from the Chairman which lifted the tuition cap provided for by the amended CHED Memorandum Order No. 14 (CMO 14) last week.

"We are infuriated that the government agency that is supposed to safeguard the right of the students to quality and affordable education has turned its back on the students for the umpteenth time."

Earlier this week, the Commission on Higher Education had made public the suspension of CMO 14 and its subsequent amendments while restoring CMO 13, series of 1998, as the guidelines for tuition fee increases for the next school year.

"The students' hard-won gains in their campaign for a genuine mechanism of tuition and other fee regulation, has suffered a major setback because CHED has chosen to kowtow to private schools' interests."

Peters claimed that fierce lobbying by private school groups like COCOPEA (Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations) and CEAP (Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines) resulted in CHED's capitulation, thereby suspending the amended CMO 14 and as a result the tuition cap based on the inflation rate. Peters further alleged that Malacañang may have had a hand in CHED's action, saying "it is a grave possibility and one we are looking closely at, that powerful private school owners might have petitioned the President herself to intervene in the matter of the tuition cap."

"The CHED can no longer deny the reason behind the dubious suspension of CHED Memorandum Order number 14 and its amendments, which provides that tuition and other fee increases should not be more than the current inflation rate," Peters said.

"It is clear as the sun that COCOPEA has exerted undue influence and pressure for the removal of the tuition hike cap by claiming it "has affected their competitiveness and has prevented them from improving their facilities," he added.

Peters vowed that the NUSP together with other national youth groups such as KABATAAN Partylist and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines would resort to legal moves to enforce a moratorium on tuition and other fee increases for the next school year while CHED reviews its memorandum.

"We demand a freeze of all tuition and other fee hikes for Academic Year 2007-2008 while the matter of the CMO 14 is unresolved," Peters said. ###