Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fascist UP Administration: Two Former UP Regents Almost Mauled by UP Police for Attempting to Unfurl Traditional Serve the People Banner During UP’s Centennial Graduation

Once again, the University of the Philippines has reared its fascist head and completely shed its progressive and liberal pretensions as an academic institution.

Gross and Fascist Disrespect to Two Former Regents while in the Exercise of University-Honored Freedom of Expression

On the 27th of April, during the final phase of the Centennial Commencement Exercises in UP Diliman, two former Student Regents of the University of the Philippines, J.M. Terry L. Ridon (2007 UP SR) and Ken Leonard Ramos (2005 UP SR), were almost mauled and forcibly pushed like common criminals and no-gooders by members of the UP Police Force (UPF) and the UP Diliman Social Services Brigade (SSB) as they were going up the center stage in Quezon Hall to approach former colleagues in the Board of Regents and the UP Administration, while attempting to conclusively seek clearance from the Vice-Chancellor for Community Affairs of UP Diliman (UPD-VCCA) for the coordinated and traditional lightning protest rally seeking to challenge new UP graduates to Serve the People, as per the agreement of former SR Ridon and the VCCA prior to the start of the University Commencement Exercises.

Despite pleas and cries by the former UP SRs to the UPF to recognize their right to attend the convocation of past and present UP System officials during the graduation, the UPF forcibly pushed the two former UP officials away and even grabbed them by their clothing until they were clearly out of the garrison-like security barricade in Quezon Hall. One security official even uttered, “Wala kaming pakialam kung sino pa kayo, basta walang order sa amin, wala kayong karapatan pumasok.” Another also said, “Wala kaming pakialam kung ano pang sabihin ninyo, wala naman kayo sa programa sasali-sali kayo. This the UPF said despite fully knowing the clear orders of the VCCA to allow at least four student leaders to unfurl the Serve the People banner on the bridgeway of Quezon Hall.

The UPF, the SSB, and the central organizers of the UPD Commencement Exercises are clearly in bad faith for this gross disrespect to two former UP System officials that served the University in the best way they can during their respective terms, notwithstanding being among the members of the Board of Regents who have clearly stood for better benefits of SSB members, and better pay for UPF officers. All of these things apparently were of no import to the organizers, particularly the UPF and the SSB, as they treated the former Regents as if they were rioting no-gooders. Clearly, none of the two acted such, and they came neatly dressed in a barong and polo, ready to face former colleagues and impart to fellow students the unstated wisdom of the need to serve the country at a time of crisis. The organizers and UP security officers even conveniently forgot that former Regents join the Graduation Processional and have a place in the center stage. More so, even if former SR Ridon invoked the clearance gave by the Office of the VCCA and despite providing information that the UP President herself knows the former UP Student Regents’ attendance in the graduation, the UP security officers continued to forcibly push the former Regents away from the center stage while hurling invectives similar to those stated above.

Moreover, the two former Regents clearly stated their intentions to the UP Administration prior to the Commencement Exercises that there shall be no attempts to disrupt the program, to the extent that they even asked that the lightning protest be seamlessly integrated into the graduation program. However, the UP Administration clearly reneged on its word to the former UP SRs who volunteered to unfurl the banners to avoid unexpected inconveniences with graduation organizers, believing that fundamental respect would still be accorded them as former UP System officials.

What is most surprising in all of these is the clear attempt by graduation organizers, particularly the UPF and the SSB, to wantonly break the agreement between the VCCA and former UP SR Ridon, even as they perfectly knew the order from the VCCA to allow a maximum of eight student leaders to unfurl their banner.

Unstated Fascist University Policy on Dissent is the Main Issue

In all of these, accountability for this gross disrespect to former UP officials lies not only on the shoulders of particular officers of the SSB, UPF and graduation organizers. Full accountability lies on the doorsteps of the UP Administration itself, for its unstated policy of effectively dismantling dissent from students, faculty, staff, among other sectors, even if they be former Student Regents, co-equal student representatives of the UP President in the highest policy-making bodies of the University.

No one forgets how the microphone of the former UP SR was turned off while addressing freshman students on the anti-student impacts of the tuition increase during the June 2007 Freshman Orientation at the UP Theater. During the 2007 UP Lantern Parade, the speech of a former USC Councilor was forcibly cut short for sharply integrating the need of celebrating the spirit of Christmas while confronting commercialization issues. Student leaders and activists were all unceremoniously harangued, pushed, and punched by UP security forces such as the SSB and the UPF during these University events.

On the other hand, it has also been these UP security forces that have been involved in UP-ordered demolitions of underlying urban poor communities at the periphery of UPD’s academic core zone, in pursuit of an anti-people UP policy to clear the University of urban blight. Lastly, it has also been these UP security forces through UP Administration orders that have forcibly and bloodily dismantled the picket of illegally dismissed utility workers by Care Best agency, all of which have led to numerous injuries, including former USC Chairperson Juan Paolo Alfonso.

It is precisely these instances and direct orders of force from high officials of the University Administration which has emboldened our very own security forces to act as if they are security forces of the Arroyo administration when they deal with dissenting members and communities of the University. Lest we forget, the UPF and the SSB’s mandate amounts merely to maintaining peace and order, without infringing on clear and time-honored political and civil rights of members in a university purporting to advocate academic freedom.

In the events stated above, most especially the unfortunate incident involving former UP Regents, we submit that there is a clear transgression of such a mandate. By these acts, the differentiation between rabid Arroyo security forces and aging and well-loved UP security officers shall have blurred, and political repression outside UP shall now have seeped into an academic community supposedly comprised of freedom and democracy-loving persons, by the very policies of our own UP Administration. Only by changing its unstated fascist policy on dissenting members of the academic community can we fully expect a return to its supposedly democratic ideals.

The Demand for a Public Apology and the Relief of Directly Erring Officers

Given all these, the two former Student Regents and the Office of the Student Regent unequivocally demand a formal public apology from UP System and UP Diliman officials for grossly disrespecting the persons of former UP Board of Regents members and assaulting the dignity and integrity of the Office of the Student Regent which facilitated the agreement between the VCCA and the protest rally organizers. By reneging on the agreement to allow the unfurling banners and almost mauling former UP system officials, the Office of the Student Regent’s integrity as the highest student representation in the University shall have been blemished and rendered nugatory for all to disrespect.

We wish to remind the UP Administration that even if we are mere students of this University, we are still former Regents who have fully served the University. More so, the Office which we once represented embody the protracted struggle of the Iskolars ng Bayan to defend their democratic rights, inside or outside UP. The UP security forces may push us all they want, and harangue our persons, but we shall never allow the one of the most cherished UP student institution we once represented to be disrespected like such. If we allow UP to browbeat and intimidate UP Student Regents, shall we then presume that crueler treatment awaits the ordinary UP student?

On the other hand, we demand the immediate relief upon investigation of all directly involved UP security officers in the April 27th incident with the former UP Student Regents. They must be made to pay the price for their arrogance, gross disrespect to former UP officials, and most importantly, defying a clear order from the VCCA to allow student leaders, former UP SRS, to unfurl banners as part of the lightning protest during the commencement exercises. There is no defense to their insubordination and arrogance, as the former UP Regents were clearly within their rights to enter the center stage and approach the VCCA to seek conclusive clearance for the unfurling of the Serve the People banner. By preventing the unfurling of the banner at the bridgeway of Quezon Hall, the graduation organizers and the UP security officials have successfully frustrated the students’ exercise of their right to free expression, as per agreement with the VCCA.

The University of the Philippines has always been proud of its democratic traditions. With the event above, all these seems to have been completely dismantled. We sincerely hope that the UP Administration does its part in reassuring our former Student Regents, the student institutions they once represented, and the Iskolars ng Bayan in general, that the UP is still the bastion of free thinking, expression and critical dissent.

Ken Leonard Ramos J.M. Terry L. Ridon

2005 UP Student Regent 2007 UP Student Regent

Monday, April 21, 2008

The (Short) Case for Price Controls on Rice

Terry Ridon: theyre confusing price controls of recent past with reasonable price controls, as though the answer to the crisis would decisively be price controls per se.

Terry Ridon: nonetheless, we have to state clearly that price controls, while effective, is not the magic bullet answer, but it shall always be a long-term shift in agricultural policy, where government conclusively directs the phase of development of the productive forces in Philippine agriculture.

Terry Ridon: the price control we speak of, is reasonable and policy-engaged, where determination of the true price of rice is not dependent on the mere say-so of rice traders but based on government-intervened research and comprehensive consultation with stakeholders, particularly the peasant and the consuming public.

Terry Ridon: stating these, we still believe that moderated price controls on rice, particularly for the consumption of lower-income classes are imperative in the face of continuing sharp increases in the price of rice. clearly, to allow the market itself to ultimately determine the price would cause greater harm than the alarmist chants of neoliberals of impending government collapse with price controls

Terry Ridon: by chanting their alarmist dispositions, the neoliberals fail to point one important fact in the collapse of price controls of years past - the failure of governments to implement deep-seated economic reforms, in general, and in agricultural policy, in particular.

Terry Ridon: lastly, among the big steps forward in struggling against the entire crisis would be:

1) a complete rechanneling of defense spending, PDAF to agriculture and basic social services, 2) a petition for debt relief to multi-lateral and bilateral funding agencies given the extraordinary situation the country and other states in the third world face, 3) the immediate passage of the genuine AR bill in replacement of the CARP, 4) a suspension of VAT on rice, oil and other foodstuffs without abolishing the need for rice quotas

Terry Ridon: in the final analysis, however, primary responsibility for this crisis shall always fall in the doorsteps of Malacanang, for continuously implementing a failed policy in agriculture, where the DA and the DAR themselves are complicit in the conversion of thousands of hectares of ricelands into cash crop areas and real estate properties, such as industrial parks, golf courses and subdivisions. lest we forget, instead of a full-concentration of efforts in averting the sharp rise in rice prices, the current administration prior to the full explosion of this crisis has been busy dipping its hands into multi-billion corruption scandals such as the ZTE Broadband and Cybereducation deals.

Terry Ridon: given these, while we sincerely believe that comprehensive policy reform is needed for the people to conclusively confront this crisis, we believe that it is not this government that shall make it so, as it seems to be more interested in receiving good media mileage of raids on unseen rice hoarders than actually confronting its failed policies head on. as such, the prospect of forcibly ousting this regime for its remains a viable option, adding to its already long list of crimes against the people in its seven years in power.

Terry Ridon: if we marched as a people against corruption these past few months, all the more must we rage against this government's ineptitude in confronting this crisis of much agricultural irony.

Terry Ridon: there was a time when rice was as abundant as water, as the soil from which it sprang. soon, it might be more expensive than the dollar exchange rate and the petrol that powers trucks and jeepneys.

Terry Ridon: and no, i will not eat kamote.

Terry Ridon: but i will oust this president for all of these.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Earth Hour Blooper

At around 830pm, on the 29th of March, posh households in Metro Manila turned off the lights in their mansions in response to the Department of Energy's pretentious Earth Hour campaign, supposedly to increase awareness on global.

JM, apparently, unmindful of such a campaign calls up Carlos' mobile.

JM: Hey bro, what's up? Let's have coffee tonight.

Carlos: I can't, I'm with my family, observing Earth Hour. We turned out our lights tonight, to spread word on Global Warming, ala Al Gore.

JM: Oh. That's great, doing your bit for the environment. It must be hot in your place tonight though.

Carlos: Not at all bro, coz the centralized airconditioning's turned on as always.

There goes your little bit of saving energy for Mother Earth! Congrats on a failed and pretentious undertaking!

Revolutionary Joke 1

While on their way to the supermarket on the 29th of March, Joma's mom told him,

"Hey Joma, you better stop rubbing elbows with the Commies. If they catch you with them, you're good as dead."

Mama's boy Joma slightly squirmed and shook his head, as if to assert that he's not doing any subversive evil deed.

Joma's mom then uttered, "By the way, its the founding of the Communist Party today right? Oh dear, you better focus more on your English teaching than..."

And in a rapid-fire AK-47 reply , Joma blurted, "No, it's not today, it's just the founding of the NPA!"

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