and Senate Bills on UP Charter revision:
The Road to UP’s Commercialization
of the University of the Philippines (UP) registered their opposition to Senate
Bill 2587, which seeks to revise the 95-year old UP Charter and commercialize
the university’s educational system, during the system-wide protest held July
AUBREY SC MAKILAN
Academic Employees’ Union vice president Dr. Edberto M. Villegas said in an
interview with Bulatlat.com over the weekend that the Senate bill known
as “The University of the Philippines Charter of 2003” is exactly the same
as House Bill 455 filed at the lower House and approved in December last year.
criticized the two bills, filed by Rep. Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Edgardo Angara in
the House and Senate, respectively.
said the bill primarily preserves the “authoritarian character” of the Board
of Regents (BOR) through its “plenary power” which can prevail over any
decision of any entity within the four independent units of UP. These autonomous
units are UP Diliman, Manila, Los Baños, and Visayas. The rest are extension
units and programs.
academic union fears that this “absolute power” includes the outright sale
of the university properties and joint ventures with private corporations and
securitization that may lead to the commercialization of UP resources and
assets, eventually to its privatization as reflected in the UP Strategic Plan
for 2008. The same thing happened to Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)
and Philippine National Bank (PNB), Villegas said.
May, officials and some personnel of UP Manila and UP Philippine General
Hospital (UP-PGH), led by the chancellor, issued a statement of support to the
statement supported five provisions of the bill: the declaration of UP as the
National University of the country; exemption from the Salary Standardization
Law (SSL); inclusion of the administrative staff/reps
regent in the BOR; tax exemption of the university; and codification of
executive issuances and statutes of UP’s fiscal autonomy.
academic union, however said that the declaration of UP as the National
University of the country is “just a change in name” and does not mean
budget increase. Tax exemptions, already being enjoyed by private universities,
“are no big gain to boast about since it may only encourage the board to
further commercialize UP,” the union added.
Diliman’s university student council chairperson JPaul Manzanilla concurred.
He said such distinction for UP “should not isolate itself from the plight of
other state colleges and universities and the entire educational system.”
the government is still unable to provide for its ‘National University,’
what more can it offer to other institutions that the government treats without
such distinction?” Manzanilla posed.
the issue of SSL, the union worries that any increase in their members’ salary
would be at the expense of students, through higher tuition and miscellaneous
fees, housing rentals, and health services.
it welcomes the inclusion of the administrative staff/reps
regent in the BOR, the union doubts where this additional member would come
from. The group also pointed out that the sectoral representatives in the BOR
– the staff, faculty, and student regents — could be easily outvoted on any
issue by the other members of the board whose appointments are “blessed” by
provision, Villegas said, is just a consuelo de bobo (token concession).
a speech before the Senate on June 3, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said that the bill
upholds the institutional and fiscal autonomy of the university, allowing it to
“chart its own future without heavily depending on public finance.”
also said that the university “must be more self-reliant, able to produce and
derive funds from its own financial undertakings in order to sustain its
programs and activities” and solve the annually decreasing education budget
from the government.
Manzanilla countered that this provision only “legitimizes the state’s
abandonment of its responsibility to educate its people.”
explained in his speech in the Senate on April 29 how state universities in
Europe and third world countries like Peru and Cuba operate and provide free
education to students.
to him, all universities in Germany offer free education. In Munich University
in Bavaria, students do not pay tuition on the principle that the right to
education should be fair for all based on the individual’s capacity to pass
the college entrance exam.
Great Britain, aside from the government paying for the annual tuition of 1,075
pounds, every student is also given an allowance of 2,000 pounds.
government of Greece on the other hand pays for the books as well while offering
free education from elementary to college. Its constitution prohibits the
establishment of private schools.
chose Third World countries Cuba and Peru as examples since their cultures are
similar to the Philippines. He said that although Cuba, like the Philippines,
has been colonized by Spain and was a former neo-colony of the United States,
education is free of charge. Students in Peru also reportedly enjoy free
revealed that European governments’ scheme to increase tuition in the
universities and gradually remove government subsidy is a World Trade
Organizations (WTO) plan, under General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
with the help of the World Bank (WB), where education would be market-based.
R. Jones, who heads the Global Alliance for Transnational Education and chief
executive officer of the virtual university Jones International Inc., is one of
the principal lobbyists in Geneva during WTO meetings on GATS since February
put pressures on governments to privatize universities and/or increase tuition
as conditions for new loans,” said Villegas.
action by GATS and World Bank, Villegas added, contradicts the idea of free
universal education stated in Article 13 of the 1966 United Nations
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
from this, WB also formed the Alliance for Global Learning which specializes on
electronic or e-learning through computers. This works under “intervention
programs” sponsored by corporate banks, financial institutions like JP Morgan
and Goldman Sachs, Ernst & Young consultancy firm, and transnational
corporations (TNCs) on Information Technology (IT) like Sun Microsystems and
said the world’s total expenses on education is $2 trillion or 1/20th
of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), and IT business is one big
business prone to exploitation.
Jones, “Education is one of the fastest-growing of all markets. Private
training and adult education industry are expected to achieve double-digit
growth throughout the next decade.”
academic union admitted that the 95-year old charter is undeniably a product of
the American colonial design and needs to be revised to truly democratize and
modernize the university.
do this, however, the group demanded the holding of an elected assembly to
discuss an alternative bill and called for the revival of Senate Bill 1580 also
known as the Tañada Bill.
bill was the product of the UP-Wide Democratization Movement (UP Widem), a
system-wide movement in UP “to democratize the formulation and implementation
of policies affecting its constituencies.” This movement, composed of elected
delegates from the four autonomous units of UP has already held three general
assemblies to discuss the revision of the university charter.
Sen. Wigberto Tañada sponsored the bill in December 1993 in the ninth congress.
said the “bill was feared and archived because it will abolish the BOR and
replaced by a system-wide University Assembly whose members are elected from the
four UP units.”
bill will also establish University Assemblies in each unit “whose members
shall be elected through a system of proportionate representation from the
participation will also be enhanced in the said bill through the inclusion of
the Student Council in the formal structure of the university.
UP constituents will have the right to recall officials, a power not provided in
HB 455 or in SB 2587.
the academic union stands firm on its principle that the “solution for the
miserly budget of UP is for the Congress to prioritize the higher education of
the nation’s youth than payments for foreign debts and military expenditures,
nor granting new corporate powers to the BOR.” Bulatlat.com
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