Author’s Note: Isinulat ko ito sa aking kapasidad bilang kasapi ng League of Filipino Students sa UP Diliman para sa College of Science Chapter ukol sa isyu ng Referendum sa CRSRS, ang proseso ng pagpili ng Rehiyente ng Mag-aaral sa BOR ng UP. Ikinagagalak kong ipaalam na nagwagi ang mga Iskolar ng Bayan sa pagsisiguro sa kanilang representasyon sa BOR salamat sa dumagundong na pagboto ng YES sa nasabing referendum.
The Office of the Student Regent (OSR), UP’s foremost institution for the Iskolar ng Bayan and by the Iskolar ng Bayan, is a fruit of the decades-long struggle of the critical and militant youth through the Martial Law years. Officially instituted in 1987 as the culmination of a string of key democratic gains that student activism in UP fought for, such as the restoration of The Collegian, bringing back the government’s responsibility in subsidizing and providing student services, and the right to organize, among others, it has served as the students’ lone representative in the BOR, UP’s highest policy-making body, and has defended the interests of the studentry through the decades.
The victories gained in decades of the students’ struggles are at present under threat, with the recent railroading of the new Admin-backed UP Charter presenting new challenges for our student movement. One such complication is its clause requiring the undergoing of the CRSRS (the rules for the selection process of the SR) through a referendum.
This with a context of the further worsening of the woes of UP for 2009 onwards: UP President Emerlinda Roman declared in a TV interview of tuition fee increases over the remaining 3 years of her career, an impending ₱100M cut from UP’s Maintenance and Other Operational Expenditures (MOOE) budget, and another batch of inflated laboratory fees such as Mechanical Engineering’s average ₱890 increase on 11 subjects, among others. The UP students are sure to suffer with an OSR silenced with regards to this trend of anti-student policies.
In light of this impending tempest over the already troubled waters of UP, LFS-CS asserts that a failure of referendum will serve to amplify the already festering state of education in UP.
Should the referendum fail, the CRSRS will be invalidated, and there lies a possible year of no SR selections: of no SR to represent us students. If we are unable to secure immediate student representation, given that there are a number of loopholes that render the incumbent democratically-selected SR unable to extend term, we are at risk of experiencing a minimum year’s worth of railroaded anti-student, pro-commercialization policies. Let us remember that the Admin clique ruthlessly subscribes to the Long-Term Higher Education Development Plan (LTHEDP) for 2010, a CHED-released policy that intends to completely free the government from its responsibility to subsidizing Education.
Let us remember that by this doctrine did the powers that be systematically implement TOFI and the STFAP bracketing to strengthen it, that the private business establishments that pose as S&T Parks were hastened to be built, testaments of the government’s sell-out of education to profit-oriented lackeys of giant multinational corporations. Let us remember that it is in this plan that the neo-fascist government intends to intensify the colonial and commercialized character of education – to the detriment of college courses not intended for the unstable global market, like most courses we have in the College of Science: to the detriment of our nation’s dream of industrialization.
The big picture goes beyond. The global financial crisis sparked by US corporate greed will definitely aggravate our own economy, and will in turn push the ruling powers to further ditch education to keep their regime afloat, all at the expense of the people’s rights and dignity. As such, we cannot afford the OSR to end up a dysfunction, for it has been a mainstay in the defence of our student rights.
In the dark times ahead it is folly to leave the sheep to the wolves, the students to the anti-students. In the dark times ahead, UP should unite under the banner upholding genuine democracy that UP has historically fought for. This referendum enjoins us Iskolars ng Bayan to assert our representation in an institution that should serve the people the way UP is widely known for.
We affirm that defending the OSR is a small but definite step in our fight to stem the state’s abandonment of education, to make the youth’s voice reverberate throughout the nation in demanding for change in a society that has long remained lopsided in favour of the moneyed few and their foreign masters.