Saturday, January 03, 2009

An Open Letter to the UP Student Regent

This is a reposted piece from the incumbent Law Representative to the UPD USC. Very straight to the point, factual, and rational in approach.

Albert Francis E. Domingo, MD
Former Chairperson (AY 2005-2006)
UP Manila University Student Council

An Open Letter to the Student Regent

I speak now no longer as a member of the General Assembly of Student Councils but as a constituent. Ms. Abdulwahid, as a courtesy to your constituents, our duly elected representatives at least deserved to be informed that the proposals we submitted will never see the light of day in your special meeting. We deserved to be given notice that the entire day of deliberations was merely recommendatory. We deserved to know, prior to the day itself that our representatives will be stripped of their right to vote, because the meeting was a special meeting and not a regular meeting.

Shan, as a Student Regent, many student councils look to you for guidance. As late as September 30, 2008, you yourself were not certain of the import of the new law requiring a referendum, thus you sought the opinion of the Vice President for Legal Affairs. Why did you seek those clarifications only on September 30, the day before the deadline for submission of amendments, when the law was passed as early as May? How can you expect your constituents to proceed accordingly if you did not know how to proceed? Why did we not receive a memo informing us that despite the new law, we are still adviced to submit amendments to the CRSRS prior to October 1, 2008 as was customary? Why did you break away from this tradition? Is it not your sworn mandate to extensively conduct information campaigns in the interest of maximum participation? You were not elected to sit in a watch tower and watch your constituents as they amble along uncertain. You were elected to lead and pave ways, and to take initiatives when there are none.

But you would be happy to note that these are all water under the bridge. And now you can rest easy knowing that the perceived threats to the student regent, which is nothing more than a call by your constituents to be recognized and be heard, has been stifled by technicalities borne by your own inaction.

You consider the referendum as a threat to student democracy, autonomy and representation and claim that the GASC and the CRSRS is democratic and yet you would allow in your own house legitimate voices to be muted by technicalities of no more than the Roberts Rules on Parliamentary Proceedings, which at best is merely directory for a body that was not served a copy thereof (you even sought the help of a resource speaker, knowing that you are not an expert on those rules, and yet you presume that we are aware of its contents). You worry about a house that stands divided as we approach the day of referendum. Ms. Abdulwahid, that is democracy for you. That is UP for you.

But like I said, that is water under the bridge. Fait accompli.

However, you can be sure that on January 19, 2009, one ballot will be cast with a “no” vote.* That ballot will be the voice of one silenced dissenter. That ballot will be my expression of democracy. Because inasmuch as I want to defend the Office of the Student Regent because of the high ideals for which it was created, your performance as our leader has shown me how the Student Regent under the Codified Rules of Student Regent Selection cannot, and in many instances has failed, to defend me.



To my fellow UP Law Students:

The campaign as it stands now calls for a vote of "Yes." But it is prudent to ask: a vote of yes to what? The question was drafted as follows:

"Do you approve of the CRSRS as rules and qualifications for the selection of the Student Regent? Yes or No."

Please note that the Vice President for Legal Affairs, Prof. Theodore Te has not yet issued an opinion as to the effect of a failed referendum. However, we can be sure that in the event of a failed referendum, the Office of the Student Regent will not be abolished as it is an office mandated by law. The only question is what will happen in the interim (i.e. whether or not we will have a student regent then, and if so, how will the said student regent be selected).

The question as drafted did not take into consideration the proposals submitted by six student councils which included a proposal to include a minimum academic requirement for the selection of the Student Regent, a proposal to exclude Kasama sa UP from the existing rules, a proposal to widen the voting base for a more democratic and representative selection process and a proposal to add specific duties to the office of the Student Regent. Attached below is the Official Memo of the Student Regent with the final question and the reasons for not considering the proposals which can be summarized as follows--

1. The GASC was not convened as a policy making body as it was a special meeting and not a regular meeting.*
2. The period for submitting proposals has lapsed and the proposals were submitted after the deadline.**

Attached also is a copy of the current CRSRS. I suggest that you peruse it before voting in the referendum.

College of Law Representative
Chairperson, Student Legal Aid and Action Committee
UPD University Student Council

*The fact that the assembly was a special meeting was announced only during the discussion of the house rules approved on the same date (and which ironically provided for a voting mechanism), via a point of inquiry/clarification raised by the USC Vice Chairperson, Ms. Airah Cadiogan. On a point of inquiry, UPD-USC Chairperson, Mr. Third Bagro asked what the import of a special meeting is. The inquiry was not answered. It was only much later, after lengthy debate and deliberations, and several caucuses to attempt to arrive at a consensus that the body was informed that the import of having a special meeting was that the body could not vote.

**On this matter, the LSG EB as represented by our Secretary and PRO submits that the proposals could not be governed by the CRSRS which has yet to be approved by a referendum. They also argued that the CRSRS is to be considered as one proposal and the amended CRSRS as another proposal. Additionally, I (as member of the USC) argued that the proposals are submitted not to amend the CRSRS per se but to have them included in the drafting of the ballot which is entirely different from amendment. However, no vote was made on this issue as the assembly was merely a special meeting.


Post a Comment

<< Home