Thursday, June 30, 2005

Gloriagate's Open

The tape has been played in the House of Representatives.

It sent shivers down my spine...

God Save the Philippines.

Monday, June 27, 2005

What is Truth?

Tonight the President of the Republic finally broke the deafening silence that has been the foundation of uncertainty in our nation. She has, at last, given comment regarding the scandalous audio recordings that depict an alarmingly familiar female voice talking to a national pollster about millions of votes in last year’s Presidential elections.

By her own words, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has acknowledged that she “was anxious to protect [her] votes, and during that time had conversations with many people, including a Comelec official.” Furthermore, she has given a verdict on herself, when she also admitted that “[she recognizes] that making any such call was a lapse in judgment,” and that she takes “full responsibility for [her] actions and to all those good citizens who may have had their faith shaken by these events.”

The students of UP Manila are prominent examples of those good citizens that the President was referring to. Perhaps most, if not all, did have their faith in the presidency tried by the entire controversy of the wiretapped GMA-Garcillano tapes. In retrospect however, it was the President’s own Press Secretary who threw a lighted match into that pile of dried wood called public disdain, and several greedy partisan groups have been on the ready to fan the resultant flames and add fuel if they must.

It is inaccurate to assume that students of the health sciences are apathetic when it comes to matters like these. On the 23rd of June, the General Assembly of our University Student Council unanimously passed and circulated USC Manila Resolution 0506-003, authorizing the release of a primer that called for a response - that demanded for the truth in the chaotic fray of accusations thrown left and right.

Four days later, the President’s admission to carelessness is the reply that we got.

If not for the delay in legislation of priority measures geared towards healthcare, or for the annual ignorance of the education budget that has led to the miserable but still fighting state that the University of the Philippines is in, the conflict that has been raging in the national political scene has done no good for the Filipino people, and for our country’s youth – the hope of tomorrow.

At times like these, we are left to feel like Pontius Pilate, that Roman Governor of ancient time who asked, “What is truth?” We ask: who are we to believe? Is there an end to this, and what holds for the future? Are we still to believe a President who admits to a possible betrayal of public trust, an impeachable offense?

Credit must be given to Her Excellency however for the courage, albeit delayed, that she had in saying her mea culpa to her people. But for us to heal our land, we should test her own pronouncement: that she takes full responsibility for her actions.

It is time to strengthen the foundation of our fundamental law that has been robbed of its chance to show the wisdom and prudence of its letters and spirit. The President has spoken: she has effectively given the go signal to have her worth tried by fire – not the fire of chaos and disorder, but the fire of a Filipino nation that shall show the world that we are a people of law and order.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Call to Respond... Demand for the Truth

(Primer of the 27th USC Manila on the recent Gloriagate Allegations, as per USC Res. No. 0506-003.)

In the status quo, our country is faced with a looming POLITICAL CRISIS, brought about by the back to back allegations on jueteng operations and electoral fraud, thrown at Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
- Pres. GMA, FG Mike Arroyo, Reps. Mikey and Iggy Arroyo were accused of being involved in jueteng operations in the country based on the testimonies of Wilfredo Mayor and Sandra Cam
- Pres. GMA and COMELEC Comm. Garcillano were allegedly involved in electoral fraud during the 2004 elections; their conversations during that time were taped by former NBI deputy director, Atty. Samuel Ong and ISAFP T/Sgt. Vidal Doble.
- Pres. GMA is not denying the allegations; neither is she acknowledging that she was really involved
- The Senate and House of Representatives are waiting for PGMA to respond on whether or not she was the one on the tape
- right now, new revelations are coming out which further involves Pres. GMA in these scandals
In this regard, the University Student Council of UP Manila calls on the students of UP Manila to RESPOND to this critical issue by participating in consultations and forums being conducted by your respective college student councils. With these efforts, the student body of UP Manila can proudly consolidate a stand, which is a genuine product of democratic student consultation.

As students of the country’s premier state university, our voices, our opinions really count. But the buck should not stop there. “With great power comes great responsibility” (advice of Uncle Ben to Peter Parker, “Spiderman”). As Iskolars ng Bayan, not only should we make a statement we should let ourselves be heard. That is why the USC Manila challenges the UP Manila students, let us exercise our critical thinking minds, get ourselves involved and fulfill our responsibility to the Filipino people, especially during this time of crisis.

3rd USC Manila GA

The USC Manila would also like to take this opportunity to DEMAND from our nation’s leaders, THE TRUTH behind these controversies that are crippling our nation through political instability. By answering the allegations thrown at her, Pres. GMA does not necessarily dignify these claims. Instead, if proven that this is all a hoax, she dignifies herself as our nation’s president, showing to us that she has been worthy of that position since 2001. With her silence, the country’s future is also silenced or in other words, silently assassinated.

If Pres. GMA is that stubborn and decides to continue keeping silent, then let us show her that we shall not take this sitting down and not emulate her by being silent as well. Let us demand for our right to be enlightened by the truth.

Consequently, the USC Manila presents to you some of the insights on this matter and ideas that we can consider as we demand for political stability; for this flyer is not only a wake up call but more so, an accessory to the information drive initiated by the USC.
- First, we can have Pres. GMA impeached because it is the only legal mechanism that would determine or prove that Pres. GMA is guilty or not. Easy way out. However, we must realize that in order to impeach her, the initiative has to come from the House of Representatives and the decision comes from the Senate. How can we impeach her if majority of both legislative assemblies are in support of Pres. GMA? Even if the tides turn and Pres. GMA is proven guilty and impeached, Is Noli de Castro worthy of ascendancy?

- Second, we can have snap elections. Easier way out. However, we must realize that nothing significant will happen to the country because the same old faces, the same old traditional politicians will participate in the snap elections. Will this effect change as was the case in 1986?

- Easiest way out: let’s just stick with Pres. GMA and let everything unfold on its own. Since the validity and credibility of the jueteng accusations and the Gloriagate tapes has not yet been proven, so why give attention to it. Heller?!, UP student ka ba?
However, in a wider perspective, we must realize that the question on whether we should or should not take Pres. GMA out of office is not only about jueteng pay-offs and electoral fraud. We must consider primarily the performance of the President in addressing the people’s issues and in fulfilling her promises during her State of the Nation Addresses. What we then need is a drastic change to reform the government in order to finally deal with the concerns of our nation: political stability, economic competitiveness, educational reform, land reform, employment, etc.

- E-VAT: 12%, more burden for the people
- budget for debt servicing is 2/3 of the total budget
- activist killings: from January to April 2005, 34 have been killed
- journalist killings: more than 68 have been killed (as of June 18, 2005)
- oil prices, fares and basic commodities’ prices are going up while the standard of living is going down due to unemployment and low wages.


- highest budget cut of UP in its history: a low of P69.9M to a high of P357M (who cares?! Meron pa rin!)
- pending tuition fee increases, laboratory fee increases, exorbitant fees (late reg fee, LOA fee, TCG, etc.)
- degraded facilities, unfinished constructions (e.g. CAMP building)
- State Colleges and Universities experience the same issues as that of UP
On this progressive perspective, some ideas come into the picture:
- Engage in People Power, force Pres. GMA to resign and instead of going with the usual flow of governance, create a coalition government, composed of the different democratic sectors that participated in the People Power: United Opposition, workers, the Church, women, youth, etc. External forces are giving the coalition government one year to restructure the government and espouse changes in our society that would supposedly alleviate the people’s standard of living. When all the necessary reforms have been instituted, we can have snap elections.

- Have Pres. GMA resign and let’s form a transitional government, composed of different democratic sectors involved in the People Power but give priority to the sectoral and interest groups, including the CPP-NDF, Bangsamoro community, etc. Everyone in the transitional government will have equal voting powers. The key word here is “transitional” because this government is just temporary. It shall initiate a constitutional convention, members of which may be nominated by the transitional government. Upon review of the Philippine Constitution, they shall amend or take away anti-people provisions in the Charter. When it has been ratified, then we go back to the mainstream as determined by the new constitution. The new government to be formed may either be parliamentary, federal, still presidential or whatever form of government has been decided on in the convention.

All of the ideas that we have pointed out and presented are there to enlighten and open the minds of UP Manila students on what alternatives or responses we can take. During consultations and discussions, we may not all agree on certain ideas but one thing is for sure, we must all be united in our DEMAND for the TRUTH and our collective RESPONSE must be HEARD.
- UP Manila University Student Council AY 2005-2006

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Blazing Foundry

Welcome Remarks of Albert Francis E. Domingo, USC Chair 2005-2006
at the Welcome Ceremonies for UP Manila Freshmen (7 June 2005, Philamlife Auditorium, Manila)

Good morning to each and every fresh student here today. Welcome to the University of the Philippines Manila, the country’s premier Health Sciences Center! Together with our Chancellor Marita Reyes, University officials, and our Deans and their co-administrators, allow me to extend greetings from the University Student Council and your College Student Councils here before you today.

I am your Chairperson, Albert Francis E. Domingo from the College of Medicine. The USC Manila has several programs set for implementation this year, in accordance with our mission-vision to have a visible, systematic, and transparent administrative structure that recognizes UP Manila’s role as the Health Sciences Center. This would, in the process, acknowledge our social responsibility of service to the Filipino people. Your University Student Council shall be both truly responsive to student needs and alert to issues of national interest. Student welfare shall be addressed to highlight the fullness of a UP education, founded on academic excellence.

As a preview of things to come, the USC Manila Website is already being finished, scheduled for launch within this month of June. It shall have a domain name distinctly UP Manila, and will serve as an online communication channel by which we shall announce items of interest to you apart from serving as a rapid electronic grievance channel to reach the Gender and Grievance Desk. The website shall serve as a springboard to webpages of our University’s several student organizations, which I encourage you to join in accordance with your special needs and interests.

Standby also for the roll-out of UP Manila’s first ever texting service that shall allow even faster, on-the-run communication to and from your USC. We shall have a system that will accept text messages from all telecom providers, in addition to being a channel by which University administration may disseminate important academic announcements – like the suspension of classes, for example.

Moving on into this morning’s significance in your lives, I’d like you to recall a popular phrase written in Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, specifically the inscription on the Gate of Hell: Abandon All Hope, All Ye Who Enter.

Do not fear, for UP Manila is not hell. But it is hot, I guarantee you. As hot as a blazing furnace that shall serve as the foundry to melt and mold you into responsible Filipino professionals four to five years from now. With its seven colleges – Allied Medical Professions, Arts and Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and our School of Health Sciences in Palo, Leyte – UP Manila shall be developing in all of you your innate skills and talents.

With the exception perhaps of the medicine laterals who are already degree holders, everyone here must be excited and wide-eyed to have their first taste of the academically premier urban legend that is UP. It will be in the next few years of your lives that you shall discover things you’ve never done before. You could lose your virginity here in UP – your virginity to different schools of thought, to ideas that may have been hidden or ignored in your younger years. I encourage you as a benevolent senior to receive with an open mind the barrage of information that shall be coming your way, yet at the same time I am cautioning you to be wary of forces at work to dissuade you from chasing the truth. Do not let the dark side overpower you.

Listen to each statement with scrutiny; read with sound judgment. Learn the art of looking dignified and intelligent even if you find something to be vague and ambiguous. Do study the concept later on however, so that when it comes your way again, you’ll not just look smart but be smart in every sense of the word.

And before I turn you over to the tinsmiths that shall be repeatedly melting and hammering your minds to maximize your potential, allow me to emphasize to you this early that the education you are about to experience is the product of blood, sweat, and tears of our fellow countrymen. Even if you have no “scholarship” to avail of, you are still a scholar in your own right – because the Filipino people, by virtue of the taxes collected from them, are subsidizing your very existence in this University. Even if you are rich, you have no right to shun off the heavy responsibility that is to use our education for our country’s benefit, because you are still subsidized. If there is one thing that you should take home from this little program this morning, that is a sense of indebtedness to each and every Filipino who is working out there and expecting that by your training in UP, you shall help uplift the status of the Republic.

The USC Manila may be contacted through our telephone number 525-8459, e-mailed at, and may be visited at the fourth floor of the student center (the building to the left of the University Registrar). We shall be informing you of the website URL and the texting service as soon as they are fully functional within this month.

The Universal Emergency Number to call is 1 1 7 – be it for police, fire, or ambulance. Do not hesitate to call for help from your University and College Student Councils anytime; we were elected to be of service to you.

Thank you again, good morning, and welcome!