Sunday, January 18, 2009

What happened to UP Activism? Is it now self-serving and undemocratic?

In reply to the unsolicited online flyer discourteously posted below on my personal space, it is easy to point out the inconsistencies and hypocritical actions of a double standard that KASAMA sa UP and its affiliates have been banking on. And in doing so, I will use KASAMA's own words:

1) "As we move further into the historic week of the SR Referendum, in pursuance of the anti-democratic UP Charter provision requiring such, the Iskolars ng Bayan are bombarded with leaflets-upon-leaflets of positions by different student groups on the validity of their respective causes." and "It is in the pursuit of such an understanding of democracy that the Office of the Student Regent is vigorously fighting for the success of the SR Referendum, no other."

This is the ULTIMATE IRONY I have seen so far for 2009. While KASAMA et al sees the SR Referendum as coming from an "anti-democratic UP Charter provision", WHY ARE THEY FORCEFULLY CAMPAIGNING for a Yes vote and ergo, for PARTICIPATION? They are "vigorously fighting for the success" of the anti-democratic UP Charter provision on referendum?

Say what?

What ever happened to being pure, true, and the right way of seeing things? So now, KASAMA is willing to use methods it sees as corrupt JUST TO FURTHER ITS AGENDA?

Analogy: This morning I wanted to eat fried eggs for breakfast. As I was about to cook, I saw that the eggs were already rotten. I decided to no longer have fried eggs but eat something else instead. If I was KASAMA, based on their ironic statement above, I would go ahead and fry the rotten eggs and then eat them, just because I want fried eggs and cannot think of any other breakfast item.

2) "Their actions, at best, are the acts of desperate political groups who remain unyielding in defense of their already bankrupt positions on specific matters in the current CRSRS. Time and time again, their proposals have been rejected by a majority of student councils in the UP System through the GASC (General Assembly of Student Councils), a most effective democratic institution now created by statute."

This paragraph's validity depends on who it is directed to. Who are "they"?

The new UP Charter (RA 9500) gives the power to choose the means of SR selection DIRECTLY TO EACH AND EVERY STUDENT. After all, is it not right to presume that all of us are old and intelligent enough to decide on our own? Thus, when a student group, or even an individual speaks their/his/her mind, is it not an exercise of "FREEDOM" and "DEMOCRACY" that KASAMA so rabidly screams for whenever they attack the (any) establishment?

Look at the situation: the groups who are forwarding positions on the CRSRS (that are different from KASAMA's own) are actually STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS and FORMATIONS composed of several individuals. On the Choose2Know website (, it is HUMBLING and at the same time EMPOWERING to see that I am not alone, that although I have been in UP since 1999, there are many others WHOM I HAVE NEVER MET or WHO MAY NOT AGREE WITH MY POLITICS ALL THE TIME who have come together to collectively voice their sentiments.

In lumping "them"/us altogether into so-called desperate policital groups, I believe it to be the HEIGHT OF ARROGANCE to label A LOT OF UP STUDENTS as "desperate". Actually, to label even ONE UP student as "desperate" just because he/she decides to express his/her points of view is so not the way we are trained in UP. To be political is acceptable, because such is the nature of our dear University of the Philippines that allows us to THINK ON OUR OWN and in the process PARTICIPATE in politics, through our own ways.

Anyone or any entity who claims that he/she/they are the only way, the truth, and the life is committing BLASPHEMY not only in the Christian sense that God is the only one who can say that (don't bother arguing religion with me, it's just an example), but is blaspheming against the very fabric of the University of the Philippines which is INDEPENDENT THOUGHT.

While I itch to say that maybe the quoted paragraph should be referring to KASAMA, I refrain from declaring so, because I do NOT want to myself be a hypocrite in disrespecting KASAMA's views.

By the way, it is not entirely true that "time and time again, their proposals have been rejected by a majority of student councils...". Maybe KASAMA should refresh its memory, because their own affiliate the Hon. Raffy Jones Sanchez, Student Regent in 2006 was SELECTED using a CRSRS that was modified 1) to include academic requirements and 2) without KASAMA as Secretariat, among other changes that were ALLOWED by STUDENT COUNCILS.

3) "batches upon batches of student leaders through the years and across the UP System have consistently rejected their proposals..."

Again, this is NOT true. Remember GASC 2005? Maybe the Hons. Marco Delos Reyes, Ken Ramos, and Raffy Jones Sanchez (specially Raffy) can refresh your memory. Raffy, a KASAMA affiliate, STILL WON even under a CRSRS that required academic qualifications of the SR and did not have KASAMA as its Secretariat.

4) "To insinuate that there is greater democracy in subjecting questions directly to the electorate whilst forgetting the historic and democratic rejection of their proposals shows how clear the discourse on democracy is being peddled with great malice and vested interests."

A false statement again! Let's see... GASC 2005 anyone?

5) "To force the Office of the Student Regent to include their proposals in the ballot is to invalidate the existence of the current CRSRS as a genuinely democratic document, to be subjected to the approval of the greatest democratic body, the students themselves."

Apparently, the BIGGEST IRONY for 2009 has been replaced! Let's read this sentence at least five times:

current CRSRS as a genuinely democratic document (Ok, good so far)
to be subjected to the approval of the greatest democratic body (hmmmm, also ok.)

Doesn't this sound correct and consistent? "Genuinely democratic document approved by the greatest democratic body"

The SR is not being forced to invalidate the existence of the current CRSRS. She is just being asked to make available other options for the students to choose. When the "greatest democratic body" decides on a document (even if it's a new CRSRS), won't that document then become a "genuinely democratic document"?

Let's go back to the breakfast analogy. Say I went into a famous breakfast place at the Shopping Center and asked for a menu. The waiter then shows me a list to choose from. In the analogy, I would be the student body, the breakfast place would be the Referendum, and the menu the proposals. The order slip effectively becomes my ballot. The waiter is SR Abdulwahid.

The way KASAMA wants it, the menu would contain nothing else but fried eggs (present CRSRS) on the menu.

What if for that morning I wanted Danggit to go with my fried eggs? Danggit being an amendment, Waiter Shan would tell me, "Sorry, fried eggs only." But what if I really want Danggit to go with the fried eggs?

We are not asking for Shan to get rid of the fried eggs (present CRSRS). It will still be on the menu, alongside Danggit and perhaps, Sinangag. (Sarap!) At noon when the breakfast place closes and does an inventory (counts the order slips which are the ballots), it is still possible that Fried Eggs was the most ordered item.

6) "There is no debate that the Office of the Student Regent remains despite a failed referendum. But what we are clearly fearful of in such an eventuality is not the non-existence of an Office but the absence of a Student Regent to represent the Iskolars ng Bayan during the monthly Board of Regents meeting. The UP Administration can assure us all they want that Regent Abdulwahid shall continuously be recognized, but in the eventuality that she does vacate the Office due to whatever contingency such as her imminent graduation, among others, it is clear that there shall be no mechanism by which the next Student Regent can be chosen for as long as no referendum to approve the rules is validly approved by the students."

One person to think of in this example: the Hon. Terry Ridon (SR 2007).

Before becoming SR, Terry ran for and won as the USC Chair of Manila immediately after my term. His term was AY 2006-2007. A question on his being a UP Manila student was raised: Terry was already graduating from UPM when he ran for USC Chair in 2006. He was already accepted in UP Law and would start at the same time his USC term would. What did he do to maybe circumvent the rule? He enrolled for a masters' degree in UPM CAS. Thus UP Manila had a USC Chair whose primary course was in UP Diliman.

Moral of the story: Shan can always pull off a Terry. If she wants to. If she really is Pro-student, Pro-SR.

Also, the old UP Charter upon which the OSR exists (up to this day, prior to the scheduled referendum) was itself not clear/had no mechanism by which the next SR could be chosen. But still, the OSR existed, and an SR was chosen annually. The admin, throughout the years, respected our autonomy as students.

What KASAMA is doing by the above-quoted paragraph is using SCARE TACTICS. So un-UP. Whatever happened to "makibaka, wag matakot?"

7) "The test of democracy and its unrelenting pursuance is not merely the physical act of providing venues by which the greatest number of persons may participate in the creation of policy, but also, whether rights of already underprivileged sectors are expanded and realized through the exercise of democratic processes and the establishment of democratic institutions."

Here we go AGAIN. Irony again. Statement-by-statement:

a) democracy is not the physical act of greatest number participating (hmmm, ok let's say yes for now)
b) democracy is also when rights of underprivileged are expanded (of course, yes)
c) through the exercise of democratic processes (huh? I thought "a" is not true...)
d) and the establishment of democratic institutions (huh? but "a" is supposedly false...)

So which is which? That we exercise democratic processes and establish democratic institutions WITHOUT a physical act of the greatest number participating? This sounds inconsistent.

8) "The other road is one that is created and built by the laborious and historic struggle of Iskolars ng Bayan past and present, with the clear direction and destination of bringing us closer to the realization of our rights by ensuring the unhampered functioning of the Office of the Student Regent through the triumph of the SR Referendum and the immediate selection of a new Student Regent."

I agree with this 99%, the 1% disagreement because I have to clarify who is that "other road". That other road belongs to the numerous UP Students out there who now, although having the power BY LAW to decide for themselves on how to select their Student Regent, are being restricted to only one method of selection by SR Abdulwahid et al.

How sad.

It is true that over the years the OSR has been a struggle - from the day of the very first Student Regent (Kiko Pangilinan). It is therefore not coincidence that Senator Kiko Pangilinan HIMSELF is the lead author in the Senate of the New UP Charter, RA 9500, that has sponsored the referendum.


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