Thursday, October 12, 2006

Word for the Wise on the Entries Below

It is best to read the entries from below than otherwise as it is a paper chopped into parts for my public management class.

Understanding Culture is Key in Understanding Student Councils

Now that the administrative culture of the USC has been brought to the foreground, it helps much in assessing how best to run the University Student Council more efficiently and effectively while at the same time in line with its mission and objectives as laid out in its Constitution. At present, the USC itself cannot lay claim as being a scientific and objective, albeit rational organization in a Weberian sense or even in a progressive sense as it is still enmeshed with backward cultural traits which hinder its administrative development. Nonetheless, a concrete articulation of the USC’s culture such as set out in brief above provides much to enable further studies on student councils as little bureaucracies with fused politico-administrative functions. As such, understanding administrative culture enables public administrators to implement administrative strategies in a situated environment[1] that is not mechanically applied and broadens the parameters to consider in effectively implementing these strategies.

[1] Lapat sa lupa

Contemporary Youth Popular Culture in the USC

Contemporary Youth Popular Culture

There is no denying that contemporary youth popular culture does hold sway in the student council despite the existence of a militant counter-culture. The best example for this would be the perennial lack of initiative which is a very common trait of the youth of today. At its worse, it would be disdain for responsibility. Many student council officers would rather shun the delegation of tasks even if they knew fully well their mandate and responsibilities to the student council and to the student body. As a result, another typical youth trait comes to the fore – pagpapalusot. They will come up with all sorts of creative excuses to exculpate themselves for failing to do their responsibilities, to the extent that they will simply never admit that they failed to do their tasks, which sadly, is another youth trait – pasaway and matigas ang ulo. Nonetheless, this pasaway and pagapapalusot traits are never fully addressed as the higher-ups, including the Chairperson are very mapagpasensiya and maunawain, which are distinctly Filipino traits. As such, the Weberian ideal of strict subordination and even the rational ideal of accountability are gravely overridden because of this, triggering administrative problems of inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Surely in a Weberian sense, these subordinates would be greatly rebuked, fired or even impeached. On the other hand, positive youth culture also infects the administrative culture of the USC such as being mapusok and palaban, notwithstanding the romantic notion of serving the people. These are very important youth cultural traits which sustain the output of projects and services of the student council. However, mapusok and palaban are fleeting traits which more often that not disappear as soon as academic load and personal issues get in the way of student council work. It is usually followed by another pervasive youth cultural trait such as panlalamig (demoralization and disillusionment).

Militant National Democratic Culture in the USC

The University Student Council has always been influenced by the national democratic movement in all aspects, including the administrative culture in which it operates. One reason why the Weberian characteristic of strict subordination is very difficult to implement in the USC is due to the strong notion of collective and democratic leadership in the student council. The Chairperson cannot simply decide on pivotal student and national issues by himself without first consulting the General Assembly, the Executive Committee or even the general student body. In the USC, as in all organizations of the national democratic movement, such is how decision-making works, unlike in many corporations and bureaucracies where policy decisions are limited to select individuals and groups. On the other hand, the concept of democratic centralism is very much part of the administrative workings of the USC, especially when deciding on very critical issues such as tuition fee and budget cut campaigns. The use of democratic centralism is one of the most effective means by which unities and plans are implemented efficiently because it assumes that all members shall be acting accordingly as planned, deliberated and debated by all members. Moreover, the propensity for compartmentalizing projects and issues as primary or secondary in priority is also very much attributable to the militant culture of the national democratic movement. While even the rational theory of bureaucracy would have this in their system, the prioritization of the USC is based more on whether or not the priority shall affect the greatest number students at a given time, more than procedural or resource constraints. Also, the concept of united front, while generally used in mass struggles and campaigns, is also effective in the administrative work of the USC. Classically, this concept assumes that other classes in society, including the national bourgeoisie, can be allied with against the most despotic political leader at a given time. While antagonisms do exist between the national bourgeoisie and other oppressed classes and sectors, it is not a bar from creating an alliance between each other against whom the greatest antagonism exists across all classes. Despite this lofty description, the USC has managed to apply this when dealing with the UP Manila administration. While the USC acknowledges that the UP Manila administration can never be allied with in terms of opposition to tuition increases and lab increases, it recognizes that such condition is not a bar from reaching out to the administration and get small concessions, especially on much needed student council equipment. As a result of this, the USC was able to procure a brand-new computer and laser printer, notwithstanding a new grant for the publication of a newsletter and web domain.[1] Over-all, the influence of the national democratic culture as briefly discussed has been very helpful in the continuing operations of the student council.

[1] USC 2006-2007

The Pull of Culture in the University Student Council

The Pull of Culture in the University Student Council

What then could be responsible for the non-ability of the University Student Council to conform to the Weberian ideal? According to Prof. Amelia Varela in her essay, the Culture Perspective in Organization Theory: Relevance to Public Administration

“…the personal preferences of organizational members are not restrained by systems of formal rules, authority, and norms or rational behavior. Instead, they are controlled by cultural norms, values, beliefs, and assumptions.”

While the members of an organization understand the formality of the organization and even the well-entrenched rules and regulations, it is culture that dictates how and why members of an organization and even the organization itself operate and deliver the way they do. The essay further adds –

“The administrative culture is but an aspect of the political culture which in turn is part of the total culture of a given society xxx The prevalent existential beliefs, values, norms and feelings that make up the administrative culture are subjective links between the events of politics and administration and the behavior of the actors in the administrative system.”

The Weberian model of bureaucracy cannot ipso facto be implemented in an organization with a culture that is deeply-entrenched that includes every member’s collective value-system, philosophy, ideology, beliefs, assumptions and norms. In the University Student Council, the culture in which it is immersed in is formed by a mix of the militant national democratic culture and the dominant contemporary youth popular culture.

Politics-Administration Dichotomy in the USC

Nonetheless, understanding the politics-administration dichotomy might be very important in understanding the dynamics of the USC due to its fused politico-administrative character. The dichotomy stems from the notion that politics and administration can never be totally isolated from each other, no matter how big or small the bureaucracy is. In terms of structure, the administrative portion of the bureaucracy is clearly accountable to the political branches of government, to the policies laid down by the political actors at a given time. It is to these policies that the entire administrative machinery must hold itself by, operate and implement its resources. An agency simply cannot run without general policy directions by a political executive. To this extent even, efficient public administration is compromised and sacrificed to meet political exigencies and expediencies. In the University Student Council, for instance, while it is more convenient to hold a high-profile benefit concert or sports fests at the start of a semester when most students are not yet immersed in their academic load, it is an understated policy to hold events like these a few months before the election season begins – to highlight that an incumbent University Student Council does deliver projects to its constituents. In this case, it is for the sake of political expediency to have these projects on strategic dates like such, sometimes overruling general practicality and logistical efficiency.

But should not a bureaucracy be as Weber quipped – a formal organization, with the characteristics of hierarchy, division of labor, specialization, impersonality, rules and regulations, strict subordination and continuity? Should not the University Student Council as a small bureaucracy in the larger bureaucracy of the University operate like a bureaucracy in the classical Weberian sense in order to fully meet its goals and objectives? Theoretically, yes. The reality, however, is that the characteristics as set out above are not entirely applied either consciously or unconsciously by the little bureaucracy that is the USC. While the hierarchy inside the student council is recognized, it is more out of mutual respect and not insofar that there exists a strict subordination by the councilors and all the other staff in the organization to the Chairperson. While there is specialization and division of labor in terms of the creation and operation of committees on a wide array of concerns, the specialization is not in the manner that these committees can already exist independent of the micro-management of the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson. Usually, these committees still wait for general directions before they operate on issues and projects, even if it be clear that these issues and projects are in line with the general policy directions of an incumbent student council.

Reviewing Waldo’s the Study of Public Administration

Before we can introduce the cultural perspective in public administration in relation to the University Student Council, it is absolutely essential that we review important parts of Dwight Waldo’s book on public administration because it teaches the fundamentals of public administration in general.

No matter how much we insist that the bureaucracy must be impersonal, objective, rational, including all other adjectives which would describe the bureaucracy as scientific, a bureaucracy can never be so for as long as it is run and manned by human persons, notwithstanding their skills and professionalism. At the outset, Waldo got it right when he said that –

“An administrative organization has an internal environment and an external environment that are largely non-rational, at least as the formal goals of the administrative organizations are concerned.”

Effective managers and administrators of organizations must realize that they are not working with machines which they can unilaterally order to produce results. Organizations are filled with people who come from different academic backgrounds and social classes with their own idiosyncrasies and predilections which managers must be able to gel together to produce results.

In the UPM-USC, this rings very true. The Chairperson of the USC simply cannot order his/her subordinates around with different tasks to accomplish without him being doing other important tasks as well. If not, it may breed resentment and ill feelings within the organization, especially when the subordinates observe that all the Chairperson does is delegate tasks to all subordinates except to himself. In the peculiar nature of the UPM-USC, there is a very great premium in shared accountability, responsibility and collective leadership.

On the other hand, external environment such as public opinion of the constituents sometimes influence much of the decision-making and administrative functions of the USC. For instance, priority projects are sometimes sidelined when there are pressing student issues that need to be deliberated upon. The USC would then embark on a sustained campaign on this issue for weeks on end, displacing the implementation of the prior priority projects which are also important as these are concrete student services such as the publication of newsletters and gender desks. Therein goes the lapses of administration as well, because if it be clear that priority projects and student issues are both deemed important, the organization must have a mechanism by which both activities are implemented efficiently without sacrificing either one.

Nonetheless, while the bureaucracy might not be entirely scientific, in the stricter sense of the word, a learned public administrator must know that “economy and efficiency are the central if not the sole goals of administrative study.”

Stripped to its essentials, indeed economy and efficiency are the only things that matter in administration. A manager must be able to deliver the goods and services in the least amount of time, with the least cost to the organization. All the other factors in running an organization are merely incidental to the objective of efficiency and economy, such as ensuring that the work teams are motivated enough or developing better client relationships.

In the USC, economy and efficiency is indispensable. However, the structure of the USC is very top-heavy as the subordinates usually wait for the Chairperson or the Executive Committee (Execom) to delegate the tasks on a weekly basis. This includes the independent committees which by theory, should be working on its own, well-staffed and led by the USC Councilors, and the only task of the Execom and the Chairperson is to give policy directions and be updated on the progress of the committees. As a result, the USC has grown to be grossly inefficient in its administration, especially when tasks unfulfilled by the committees are left to be resolved and finished by the Execom and the Chairperson. Aggravating perhaps this inefficiency is the lack of troubleshooting mechanisms to correct administrative failures and mistakes, especially by the subordinates. This may be attributable perhaps to the fused politico-administrative structure of the USC, but cannot be deemed conclusive as of yet.

Develop Expertise in Technical Work

Develop Expertise in Technical Work

The Edjop Manual states –

Student council work, more often than not, involves workloads of writing and other technical works such as staffing, filing of papers, providing written materials and proper handling of meetings. Arousing interests of students will require us to print position papers, statements and newsletters. In organizational work, we need venues for meetings, assemblies and means of communication. Also, finance work should also be considered for it is essential in fulfilling the technical and logistical requirements of these lines of work.”

Technical work is one of the most difficult tasks in student council administration, especially in an organization that has directly fused political and administrative functions. Technical work is an administrative function aptly called, the dirty work, as it is bereft of the limelight that most student council officers are used to. It involves quietly working in front of a computer, writing project proposals, position papers and the like. It is very time-consuming as it often involves painstaking research and analysis. As such, there is great difficulty in delegating tasks for this as most student council members would rather blurt away in front of crowds.

But the importance of technical work must never be underestimated. The Edjop Manual puts it perfectly –

The worth of technical work should not be underestimated. Neglecting the technical aspect of SC work creates snags in the process of task implementation. When these snags persist, inefficiency is wrought which can frustrate particular plans or even entire programs of actions. Do not be content with devising short-term program for procuring technical needs; rather, fulfillment of technical requirements should be seen as an integral part of a long-range and self-sustaining plan. Due to the importance of this line work, council officers should be equipped with this knowledge.”

One of the more important tasks of technical work is staffing. A student council cannot work if the tasks at hand are not delegated properly to its members.

It involves

“…filling and keeping filled the positions in the student council. This can be done by identifying resource requirements, identifying available members, recruiting, selecting and training. The student council however cannot do all the work alone. Volunteers must be invited and recruited to encourage involvement of the students in governance, while systematizing the workload of the student council. Strengths and weaknesses of SC members must be identified to place them in an appropriate position suited for her/him. It is the aim of an organization to place people in positions where they can maximize their personal strengths and overcome their weaknesses by getting experience or training in those skills in which they need improvement. Knowing the organization’s human resources also gives direction to recruitment and training activities.”

In an organization like the University Student Council, these tasks are clearly indispensable.

Maintaining Leadership

As the UPM-USC is not merely a bureaucratic institution but also a significant political institution with a broad constituency, it is absolutely essential that it maintains a position of leadership. It is from this leadership that it derives its legitimacy and the support of the student body.

The Edjop Manual clearly states –

“The student council must hold true to its orientation of providing genuine service to the students. This then must be embodied from the leadership down to student organizations and individuals that directly participate in student council governance. Student leadership, therefore, is not only manifested by issuing orders but in concretely carrying out the responsibility in effectively leading the whole student body in their struggle for student rights and welfare.

The leadership in the council must provide guidance to all the members to be able to unite them in the council’s plans, programs and other decisions of the councils. Council members, on the other hand, should exercise their right to take part in discussions, to pose inquiry and criticisms, to present suggestions to colleagues and to participate in decision-making. The rights of student council leaders go hand in hand with the responsibility of raising their own level of consciousness and practical knowledge, to be responsible for all statements they have issued, and to uphold the integrity of the student council.”

The student council is what can be called a grass-roots bureaucracy, as it is an instrumentality that is directly accountable to its constituents. If the student council fails in its objectives or in the implementation of its plans and projects, it is easily subject to the scrutiny and criticism of its constituents. It cannot act from as though its constituents are separate from it, as the student council must recognize that its authority is derived from the very constituents they serve. This, I think, is what makes a bureaucracy with fused political decision-making powers and administrative functions unique. It shall always be subject to direct attack by its constituents if it defaults in its administrative functions regarding its day-to-day operations and/or in its political decision-making regarding its policies.

Like the rest of government bureaucracies, student councils also employ committee systems to facilitate the delegation of tasks, projects, and campaigns. According to the Edjop Manual –

“In order to unite the members, the student council should adopt a committee system that embodies the dynamics of collective leadership and decision-making. It is the best guard against monopoly of individuals or selective groups in the distribution of tasks and formulation of policies and decisions. The student council should at least have these working committees: education, finance, campaign and publicity, rights and welfare, among others. In order to have an effective committee system each member should have definite tasks and grasp of the adopted program of action for a given time frame, so that each one would be guided by the overall thrust of the student council.”

In a student council, there is a great emphasis on collective leadership of the entire student council and not only that of the Chairperson or President. Consensus-building is always encouraged rather than dividing the house during voting on pertinent issues and campaigns. The committee system also empowers other members of the student council to be able to exercise sufficient authority, aside from that of the Chairperson. However, the committee system and consensus-building methods may become a big administrative stumbling block in the operations of a student council.

The NUSP Edgar Jopson Student Council Manual

The NUSP Edgar Jopson Student Council Manual

The National Union of Student of the Philippines, the oldest and broadest alliance of student councils, governments and formations, published the Edgar Jopson Student Council Manual (Edjop Manual) as a guide to student council on how to manage its affairs effectively and efficiently. It includes discussions on student leadership, propaganda, mass campaigns and struggle, public speaking, table battles and negotiations, parliamentary procedures, and for our purposes, student council management. The Edjop Manual has been used as the definitive student council guide of the UPM-USC and many other USCs and college student councils of the UP System and other colleges and universities.

In its discussion of Student Council Management, it explains first the functions of a student council –

“1. The student council is an important venue in raising the consciousness of students and in forwarding their rights and interests. Student council leaders should be accountable to the students who have voted for them in the belief that they can further their rights and welfare. However, their failure to address the problems of the students is also a failure to grasp the real nature and function of student leadership that is serving the students and the Filipino people.

2. The council should create desks and committees to systematize the action on specific concerns. This should help in raising the awareness of students on issues and encourage them to act on these. These committees and desks are tasked to research information pertaining to these issues and to propagate such information and issues in pamphlets, newsletters and other propaganda materials to aid students in learning of the issues.”

These are only two of the many functions of the student councils mentioned by the Edjop Manual but clearly, it is also in line with the set-out objectives of the UPM-USC.

In terms of managing the student council, the Edjop Manual provides two points which student councils must always remember – Maintaining Leadership and Developing Expertise in Technical Work.

The UPM University Student Council (USC) Constitution in Brief

A brief discussion of the Constitution of the UPM-USC is important in order to understand the administrative foundation of the organization. Section 2 of the UPM-USC Constitution indicates the declaration of objectives of the student council and it includes unifying the ranks of the studentry and ensure the broadest coordination of the University and College Student Councils in UP Manila, establishing unity with other sectors of the University and the citizenry in the struggle for national freedom and democracy. These are very lofty objectives by a University Student Council, whose term of office spans for only a year, and in order to successfully achieve these goals, a very efficient administrative base must be fully effective in implementing the plans of the student council.

The USC is composed of 16 members, which includes the USC Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, 7 USC Councilors and 7 College Representatives. It convenes every other week as a General Assembly to decide on policy issues and updates on programs and projects. It also has an Executive Committee (Execom), vested with the decision-making powers of the General Assembly when it is not in session. The Execom has 6 members, including the USC Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary-General, Treasurer, Business Manager and Public Information Officer. The four latter positions are elected by the General Assembly from among the USC Councilors and/or the College Representatives.

The semestral funds of the University Student Council come from mandatory payments by all enrolled students in UP Manila during one semester. At present, the USC collects PhP20 per student for its funds, though only forty percent of the PhP20 actually goes to its funds. Sixty percent goes to the local college student councils, depending on the college to which the student paying belongs to. The administrative implications of this shall be discussed later. Moreover, the USC is also mandated to publish a financial statement by the end of its term.

Position Paper on the Selection of the New CAS Dean

The UP Manila College of Arts and Sciences Student Council states in clear and unequivocal terms its criteria for the selection of the new Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences:

  1. S/He must unite in solidarity with the Iskolars ng Bayan against the proposed system-wide UP tuition increase from 250 pesos per unit to 1000 pesos per unit, notwithstanding the other upcoming laboratory increases in the Department of Biology and the Department Physical Sciences and Mathematics. The basis for this is very clear. By raising the cost of education, the University is in effect depriving poor but deserving students a chance of entering the University just because they have meager finances to fund their education. By imposing a renewed STFAP through the tuition increase, the University shall create milking cows out of the more financially privileged Iskolars ng Bayan, as though their financial status is a penalty for being in the University. In the final analysis, the answer to dilapidated facilities and underpaid faculty and staff is still greater state subsidy to UP education.
  2. S/He must ensure that the use of college facilities for student activities be free of charge and subsidized by the College. The high costs of renting the Little Theater and very strict and inflexible regulations on the use of classrooms, lobbies and walkways are very significant hindrances in the growth and development of student organizations, formations and groups.
  3. S/He must ensure that generic tambayans and student organization tambayans be constructed in the soonest possible time. In the last few months, many students have contented themselves in sitting, eating and reviewing on the floor of the lobbies, walkways and steps due to the lack of benches and chairs while waiting in between classes.
  4. S/He must create a college policy that would allot some time for student organizations to discuss issues and projects during classes without being rejected by the attending faculty. This is in the interest of creating an atmosphere of respect for academic freedom in recognition of the historic role of Iskolars ng Bayan as agents of critical social inquiry and meaningful social change.
  5. S/He must never be oblivious to national and local exigencies, as the College does not exist only to churn out intellectuals bereft of a social conscience. As such, s/he must create policies that would unite and consolidate the College in facing national and university contingencies, like the creation of monthly College General Assemblies to discuss and debate on the most pressing issues of the day, such as the UP Tuition Increase and the Charter Change.

If the new College Dean shall stand on all of these in the course of his/her term, only then shall the support of the CAS Student Council and the Iskolars ng Bayan be extended. These demands are not based on mere whim or caprice of the student council but premised on the concrete and collective interests of the Iskolars ng Bayan in pursuit of their legitimate rights to education and academic freedom.

Support Statement for the Change of the Office of Student Affairs into the Dean of Students

The UP Manila University Student Council (USC) supports the change of the Office of the Student Affairs (OSA) into the Dean of Students of UP Manila. Historically, the Director of the OSA has always been an indispensable ally of the USC in fighting for the democratic interests of the Iskolar ng Bayan. With the change from Director to Dean, it shall give more meaning to this partnership.

Nonetheless, the USC expects that the change shall not only be in name but also in terms of policy direction. The Dean of Students must continue to share the aspirations and struggles of the Iskolars ng Bayan in pursuit of their right to education and academic freedom. As such, we would like a Dean that will unequivocally oppose the impending System-Wide Tuition Increase from 250 pesos per unit to 1000 pesos per unit, notwithstanding other proposed laboratory fee increases in the coming semesters. The basis for this is clear. As Dean of Students, one does not hold merely an administrative position nor serve as a conduit between the UP Manila administration and the UP Manila students. In order to truly live up to its name, the Dean of Students’ policy directions must be skewed in favor of the interests of the Iskolars ng Bayan, while continuing to discharge the usual functions of the OSA such as scholarship and financial services, counseling, among others. On the other hand, the Dean of Students must also help serve as guarantor to the seven other colleges regarding the use of equipment and facilities in the colleges so as to waive the collection of fees whenever there are student activities. For the longest time, a very big obstacle in the growth and creativity of meaningful student activities has always been the high rental fees of venues and equipment, despite the preference for these facilities for being closer in proximity to the students. Finally, the Dean of Students must ensure that academic freedom and freedom of expression are respected and recognized in all colleges of the University. Student Organizations have been finding it immensely difficult to enter classes and discuss critical issues and projects, especially in the health-related colleges. The University is not a mere factory of brilliant health professionals bereft of a social-critical conscience. They must know the social conditions from which their professions exist. Only the Dean of Students can help the USC create a University policy towards this end.

In the final analysis, the USC supports the change the change of the OSA into the Dean of Students, provided that by changing the name of the office, significant reforms in principle and policy shall be made in favor of the interests of the Iskolars ng Bayan.

Welcome Remarks to the Freshmen 2006, Philam Life Auditorium

Pinakamataas at pinakamaalab na pagpupugay sa mga bagong Iskolar ng Bayan!

Dalawang mahahalagang bagay ang dahilan kung bakit ako naririto sa harapan ninyo ngayon. Ang una ay ang pagbati sa inyo sa pagpasok sa pinakamahusay na Pamantasan sa buong Pilipinas at ang ikalawa ay ang pagpapakilala sa ating panauhing pandangal – si Student Regent Raffy Sanchez.

Iskolar ng Bayan – hanep. Siguradong isa kayo sa pinakamahusay sa inyong paaralan dahil sa prestihiyo ng pagpasok sa UP. Kung galing naman kayo sa malayong mga pook, malamang kayo rin ang pinakasikat sa inyong bayan, baryo o purok. Aba dapat lang! UP yata ito – hanep.

Alam ninyo, ang paulit-ulit na tema ng University Student Council sa mga freshman orientation ay tungkol sa kahulugan ng Iskolar ng Bayan. At sinasabi ko na sa inyo ngayon – daigdig ang pagkakaiba ng UP student sa Iskolar ng Bayan. Sapagkat ang Iskolar ng Bayan ay hindi lamang matalino at mahusay, o kaya uno sa Math 17 at Chem 14, o summa cum laude sa UP Medicine. Sapagkat kabahagi ng pagiging Iskolar ng Bayan ang pagiging mulat sa mga isyu ng pamantasan, lipunan at mamamayan. Hindi sapat na kabisado natin ang mga teorya at formula para lamang isulat sa mga pagsusulit o ibida sa mga propesor nating makukulit. Mahalagang gagap din natin ang mga isyung pinaglalaban ng ating kapwa Iskolar ng Bayan at ng mismong mamamayang patuloy na inaapi at pinagsasamantalahan sa lipunan. Nariyan ang nagaganap nang College of Medicine tuition increase mula P11, 529.50 tungong P20, 045.50. Isama na rin natin ang nakaambang System-Wide Tuition Increase sa lahat ng degree programs ng Pamantasan mula UP Baguio hanggang UP Mindanao. Tiyak tatamaan tayong lahat sa panukalang iyan. Huwag din nating kalimutan sa pambansang saklaw, ang pinagdedebatihang Charter Change na tinututulan ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan dahil magbibigyang laya sa patuloy na komersalisasyon ng edukasyon sa Pamantasan ng Pilipinas.

At bakit naman kasi natin kailangang malaman ito, o maging mulat sa mga isyung katulad nito? Naku, pang-aktibista lang iyan, hindi naman ako pumasok sa UP para sabihing, “Let’s make baka, Don’t be takot!” Mga kaibigan, simple lamang ang sagot. Sa kaduluduluhan ng lahat, ang Iskolar ng Bayan ay may pananagutan sa sambayanan. Nasa ating mga balikat bilang mga Iskolar ng Bayan ang mga pangarap at pag-asa ng sambayanan. Ang bawat buwis na binabayad para sa ating edukasyon ng abang magsasaka sa kanayunan, manggagawa sa mga pabrika, propesyunal sa mga ospital at paaralan ay nakasandig sa pag-asa – na sa dulo ng lahat, ang sambayanan ang buong-buong paglilingkuran ng Iskolar ng Bayan sa anumang paraan.

Sa inyong pagpasok sa pinakamahusay na pamantasan ng bayan, tanganan sana natin ang pagiging tunay na Iskolar ng Bayan – mahusay, mulat at naglilingkod sa sambayanan. Muli, pinakamataas na pagbati sa inyong lahat!

Manifesto of Unity Against the UP System-Wide Tuition Increase

We, the Iskolars ng Bayan, from different student organizations, student formations, fraternities, sororities, student publications and student councils in UP Manila, wholeheartedly declare and manifest that:

  1. We believe that education is a right and not a privilege. Education must be accessible to the greatest number of Filipino youth. It must be provided by the state to the youth and the people, as it is constitutionally-bound to do.
  2. We oppose, in general, the intensifying commercialization of education - the selling of education as a commodity – which makes education a right of a few who can pay and not the right of every Filipino.
  3. We oppose, in particular, the following forms of commercialization of education in UP Manila:

v The proposed tuition fee increase in all undergraduate level courses of the University from P250/unit to P1000/unit

v The tuition fee increase in the UP College of Medicine from P P11, 529.50 to P20, 045.50

v The library fee increase for freshman students from P400 to P800, and freshman medicine students (Year Level III) from P800 to P1200

v The proposed laboratory fee increases in the College of Arts and Sciences

  1. We shall enjoin the broadest number of Iskolars ng Bayan to participate in fighting for our right to education through various forms of action such as launching widespread and sustained education campaign drives on the right to education and the intensifying commercialization of education.
  2. We shall translate this unity in principle into collective and creative action. We shall call the attention of the public, the UP Administration and the government to its advocacies.
  3. Finally, we believe that the fight against the commercialization of UP education does not end in opposing increases in tuition and other fees. We shall, therefore, continue the fight for greater state subsidy for UP, in particular, and education, in general.

DOJ Sec. Gonzales, To Be an Iskolar ng Bayan Is To Serve the People Not GMA

The University Student Council of the University of the Philippines Manila condemns to the highest order the totally irresponsible statements of DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzales against the premier state university as a breeding ground of destabilizers and naked runners. Last year, he has already been rebuked by the Iskolars ng Bayan for uttering the same tirades against UP, and yet has persisted in insinuating those same statements against our esteemed university.

There is a need for Sec. Gonzales to retake his class in Philippine History for his utter ignorance on the sacrifices of the Iskolars ng Bayan for the restoration and development of democracy in the country for more than forty years. During the First Quarter Storm, if it were not for the marching Iskolars ng Bayan, fighting side by side with other marginalized sectors of society in those fateful days before Martial Law, how shall the people know that President Marcos would emerge as the despot and dictator that he would become for the next twenty years? Even during the darkest days of Martial Law, the Iskolars ng Bayan were at the forefront of the struggle against the dictatorship. They trooped to the slums, the countryside and the factories to empower the people to face the dictatorship head-on that climaxed in the Revolution in EDSA in 1986.

We need not look that far in our history to know that Iskolars ng Bayan struggle and fight for a worthy cause, unlike how Sec. Gonzales pictures the university. In 2001, tens of thousands Iskolars ng Bayan walked out of their classes and marched once again to EDSA at the height of the ouster of President Estrada over corruption charges. In these historic events of our nation’s democracy and in all other issues affecting education, the youth and the rights of the people, the Iskolars ng Bayan have remained true for the purpose of its existence – to serve the people, in all the selfless sacrifice that the Oblation represents, which Sec. Gonzales ridicules.

He ought to be reminded that the gratitude for the subsidized education of the Iskolar ng Bayan is not to the government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It is under this government that UP has suffered the biggest budget cuts in its entire history, where efforts to commercialize and privatize the university continue to threaten our education. More so, it is under this government that Iskolars ng Bayan doing academic work in the countryside are abducted and forcibly disappeared without a trace by suspected military agents. These are all gross violations of the Iskolars ng Bayan’s right to education and academic freedom, of which Sec. Gonzales is complicit to, for blindly defending an illegitimate president that has never stood for the rights of the Iskolars ng Bayan. With Sec. Gonzales’ pronouncements that UP is a haven of subversives, it is a tacit warning to the Iskolars ng Bayan that even students are now being profiled and subjected to surveillance operations by government security forces as are media entities critical of the government.

Contrary to what Sec. Gonzales claims, it is to the Filipino people that the Iskolars ng Bayan owe their education – through their taxes, their labor and their produce. It is to the Filipino people that the gratitude and allegiance of the Iskolar ng Bayan belong. It is they that the Iskolars ng Bayan truly serve.

The Iskolars ng Bayan are not cowering in fear with the veiled threats of Sec. Gonzales against the University of the People. Even if this means that the Iskolars ng Bayan would have to sacrifice once again against a repressive regime such as this in the defense of democracy we all so hold dear – we are game.

Iskolar ng Bayan, Ngayon ay Lumalaban!

Fight for Greater State Subsidy! No to UP Budget Cut and TFI!

Makibaka, Wag Matakot!

Oust Gloria Now!

Tagumpay ng College of Nursing sa Leakage Issue, Tagumpay ng Iskolar ng Bayan

Ang nurses ng bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban!

Ngayon ay lumalaban, ang nurses ng bayan!

Ito ang pangkalahatang sigaw ng mga estudyante ng UP College of Nursing kasama ng iba’t iba pang mga nursing students mula sa iba’t ibang mga paaralan nang dumagsa sila sa harapan ng Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) upang panagutin ang lahat ng kasabwat sa leakage controversy sa nakaraang Nursing Licensure Examinations (NLE), pagbitiwin ang lahat ng Board of Examiners ng NLE, patalsikin sa puwesto si Dr. George Cordero, ang pangulo ng Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) at makapag-retake ang mga estudyante ng nursing upang mapangalagaan ang dignidad ng kanilang propesyon.

Matagumpay na nakamit ng mga nursing students ang lahat ng kanilang ipinaglaban at may konretong ibinunga ang kanilang sama-samang pagkilos at pagdagsa sa lansangan. Nagbitiw na ang mga Board of Examiners ng NLE at si Dr. Cordero, ng PNA, at pinayagan nang mag-retake ang sinuman nais kumuhang muli ng NLE. Kahit nagbitiw man sila, patuloy din ang paggiit ng mga nursing students na masampahan ng administrative o criminal cases ang mga sangkot sa leakage controversy na ito. Nasa Senado na rin ang kasong ito upang higit pang siyasatin.

Subalit ang pinakamalaking tagumpay ng labang ito ay ang paglalantad sa komersalisasyon ng edukasyon at ang pagkakaisa at pagkilos ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan laban dito. Ang isyu ng leakage sa NLE at ang patuloy na pagsulpot ng mga sub-standard nursing schools ay kongkreto at maliwanag na pagpapakita kung gaano pinabayaan ng pamahalaan ang sistema ng edukasyon sa pangkalahatan, kung saan hindi na mahalaga ang de-kalidad na edukasyon, kundi ang mabilis na paglikha ng mga propesyunal para sa pandaigdigang pamilihan. Ito mismo ang dahilan kung bakit nagbitiw ang mga miyembro ng Technical Committee on Nursing Education ng Commission on Higher Eduction, sapagkat pinupuwersa sila ng CHEd na magkibit-balikat ukol sa pagbulusok ng kalidad ng nursing education sa bansa.

Sa kabilang banda, hindi na bago ang komersalisasyon ng edukasyon sa mga Iskolar ng Bayan. Bago pa ang leakage controversy, bumulaga na sa atin noong Hunyo ang pagtaas ng tuition

sa College of Medicine mula P11, 529.50 tungong P20, 045.50. Nariyan na rin ang napipintong pagtaas ng tuition sa UP Manila at buong UP System mula 250/unit tungong 1000/unit. Sa harap ng patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis at basic commodities, hindi makatarungan ang anumang pagtaas sa matrikula dahil ang pamahalaan naman ang dapat tumutustos ng edukasyon ng Iskolar ng Bayan.

Ngunit sa halip na libro at maayos na pasilidad para sa UP at iba pang pamantasan, bala at dahas ang sagot ng pamahalaan sa lahat ng tumututol sa kanyang mga patakaran, kabilang ang mga Iskolar ng Bayan. Hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin mahanap ang dalawang nagre-research na UP students na dinukot umano ng militar sa Hagonoy, Bulacan. Ang mga estudyanteng nagpiket naman kay GMA sa PGH para sa dagdag na subsidyo sa edukasyon at kalusugan ay nakahabla pa rin para sa gawa-gawang kasong inciting to sedition.

Sa gitna ng lahat ng ito, mapagpasyang napatunayan ng mga estudyante ng UP College of Nursing na sa sama-samang pagkilos ng Iskolar ng Bayan, napagtatagumpayan ang anumang laban para sa ating mga karapatan. Sa pagtagumpay ng laban ng nursing students, nagpapatuloy ang panibagong laban ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan upang tutulan ang napipintong pagtaas ng matrikula sa buong UP System. Binuo na ang Ugnayan ng Mag-aaral Laban sa Komersalisasyon (UMAKSYON) upang maging sentro ng kampanyang ito na bubuuin ng samu’t saring student councils, student organizations, student publications, at lahat ng Iskolar ng Bayan na titindig at kikilos laban sa pagtaas ng tuition – mga pagkilos mula sa mga maliliit na talakayan sa mga silid-aralan hanggang sa pagbuhos sa lansangan ng Iskolar ng Bayan.

Bilang mga Iskolar ng Bayan, marapat na tumugon tayong muli sa hamon ng panahon. Nasa pagkakaisa ang lakas ng Iskolar ng Bayan, at sa sama-samang pagkilos natin makakamit ang tagumpay ng ating mga laban, nursing leakage man sa kasalukuyan o tuition increase sa hinaharap.

Iskolar ng Bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban!

No to the commercialization of education!

No to the proposed system-wide tuition increase!

Fight for greater state subsidy to education!

Makialam. Mamulat. Makibaka.

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