USC Diliman on Student Regent Charisse Banez

Posted on February 10, 2010

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Unmask Their Subterfuge: Self-Interest In Discrediting Our SR

Official Statement of the University Student Council (USC) of UP Diliman

We have a Student Regent.
Contrary to the claims of the UP administration that Ms. Charisse Bernadine Bañez is not qualified to sit as a Student Regent (SR), the University Student Council of UP Diliman (UPD-USC), asserts that Ms. Bañez remains qualified and remains to be the Student Regent, unanimously mandated by the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC), to represent the student body.

The UPD-USC further condemns to the highest level the manipulation of some members of the Board of Regents (BOR) and the Chancellor of UPLB in once again trying to render our SR incapacitated to discharge her duties as the representative of the students in the highest policy- and decision-making body in the University. We detest this abuse, clearly driven by the interest of reversing the decision of the BOR on the PGH Directorship at the expense of the student’s essential right to be represented.

While it is true that Ms. Banez does not officially have a Residency or Leave of Absence (LOA) status in UPLB, she remains to be a student, as she has not been officially separated from the University. She has also filed an application and appeal for Residency and then an LOA, both pending the approval of the UPLB Chancellor Luis Rey Velasco even before the January 29 BOR meeting. Contrary to the claims of the UP administration, Ms. Banez never withdrew her application for residency.

It bears notice that this is the same UPLB Chancellor who had continuously attempted to discredit Ms. Bañez and prevented her from sitting as the Student Regent ever since her selection in April 2009. He is also the same Chancellor who had prevented her from graduating from the University despite her fulfillment of all her academic requirements. Yet again, he is the same Chancellor who had refused to grant her a residency status in UPLB.. Clearly therefore, our SR’s application shall not be easily granted without the strong pressure and assertion from the students.

The vendetta of Chancellor Velasco against Ms. Bañez is familiar to the students of UPLB. During the term of Ms. Bañez, she has effectively exposed Chancellor Velasco as a conspirator behind the repression, harassment, and militarization incidents in UPLB. It became known that Chancellor Velasco’s hands were not clean when the UPLB-USC of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 were made to face trumped-up charges; when the UPLB Administration refused to collect the student fund and publication fees, thereby depriving the student council and publication of the necessary source for their operating expenses; when the Editor-in-Chief who topped the editorial exam of the UPLB Perspective was not appointed; and when the military agents were permitted to enter the campus and conduct surveillances against progressive student organizations. In all these, SR Bañez was able to effectively lead the students in victorious campaigns. Clearly, this is not the first time that the Velasco administration attacked our student leaders in an attempt to abate student protests and the movement for democratic rights in the University. The removal of our SR –one of UPLB’s most assertive student leaders– from office would be a great source of relief for Chancellor Velasco.

Currently, even President Roman and the Malacanang appointees in the BOR have their own interests in making the SR position vacant. They have currently cited the ratified CRSRS to discredit our SR, but we must not forget that nine months ago, they had explicitly violated the same document when they kept our SR from representing us in the Board for two months. They have proven to us that they can implement the rules when it suits them; they disregard the same rules when it is in conflict with their interests.

Their interests lies in the Directorship of the Philippine General Hospital and the micro-privatization of PGH. The PGH Directorship became a highly-contestested position during the BOR vote-casting last December 2009, such that some members of the BOR who lost in the vote tried to move to rescind and invalidate the decision to appoint Dr. Jose Gonzales as the new PGH Director, in order to field their own bet. Pres. Roman even issued a memorandum in January to hold the oath-taking of Dr. Gonzales but was defeated by the mass movement in UP Manila. Now, despite the decision of the BOR to permit our SR to participate and vote in the December BOR meeting, they are now moving to invalidate all BOR decisions since November where our SR have participated, including the votation for the PGH Directorship. .

The ill motives are clearly laid down in front of us. We shall be disenfranchised of our right to representation as Ms. Bañez is attacked and discredited just so the few can secure their interests in the BOR. This move from the administration to discredit our SR is a curtailment of our right to genuine representation as they are aware that Ms. Bañez does not have a successor and that the GASC shall not convene until April 2010 to select a new SR.

They have proven once again, that for the powers that be led by Pres. Roman and the Malacañang bloc, self-interest gains more weight than our fundamental right to be represented. They have committed a grave disrespect not only to Ms. Banez and the institution she represents, but as well as to the University that expects a transparent and democratic governance from its administration.

It is imperative for us to take our historic role of defending our student institutions. We are called once again to stand by our Student Regent and condemn this intervention from the Roman administration. Our SR must discharge her duties of representing the students until the end of her term especially since fee increases and various anti-student policies in other campuses shall be decided upon. Together, let us assert that UPLB Chancellor Velasco grant the application of Ms. Banez for Residency, give back her rights and privileges as a student of the University, and stop the political persecution and harassment in UPLB.

With the firm resolve demonstrated by those who fought for the establishment of the OSR, we call on our fellow members of the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) to reaffirm the mandate we have given to Ms. Banez. We call on the broadest number of students in the entire University system to support the campaign to defend our SR from political persecution and attacks; to prove, once again, that measures meant to impede our democratic rights shall fail against the collective militancy of the students.

Stop political persecution in the University!
Reaffirm the mandate and Defend our Student Regent!
Fight for our right to be represented!