The past year witnessed victories we have gained through our constant action within the university. Specifically, we speak of the student demands which the administration has granted recently.
Such victories only mark the beginning. Our struggle continues, as it reflects only the widespread problems which plague our country. Our demand for students’ rights inside UP is only part of the people’s bigger demand for a genuine change in the system.
Thus, events which have led to the university’s current situation must be analyzed in context of the Philippine society. We hold responsible not only the UP administration for enacting anti-student policies, but the very regime which abandoned us.
Under Gloria Arroyo’s term we have experienced excessive budget cuts and continually diminishing subsidy, while she uses her position to steal the people’s money for her own gains.
Instead of asserting our right to greater subsidy, meanwhile, the UP administration sanctioned Arroyo’s actions by implementing policies such as tuition and other fee increases, and leasing the university’s idle assets to private corporations.
Their connivance has led UP on a road to ruin. They have made diminishing subsidy appear a fact, when in truth the Arroyo regime’s gross budget misallocation and prioritization of debt service has led to such conditions.
The country has ample funds to provide for quality education and other social services, yet because of foreign mandates on our political figureheads, we scrimp on our resources, shortchanging the people by denying them the most basic of services.
Meanwhile, our agriculture remains backward, as is our export-oriented, import-dependent economy. The political system remains plagued with crisis of leadership, corruption being the norm for politicians.
Such is the context wherein we frame our struggles, where we will base our next steps in our search for concrete, genuine change.
The upcoming elections, both local council and national, offer us opportunities anew to challenge the current system, to seek better alternatives via a competent leadership.
Outside UP, the Makabayan Coalition, under which nationalist leaders Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza are currently running, provides the most comprehensive platforms, encompassing all sectors of Philippine society, including the youth. Fully-subsidized education geared towards national development is one of the party’s advocacies.
We need such leaders, whose track record shows their sincerity in serving the people and our nation’s interest.
There exists such a leadership in UP. History has proven the dedication of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP) in upholding students’ rights within the university and making the Arroyo regime and UP administration accountable for their transgressions.
STAND-UP’s comprehensive grasp of the current issues inside and outside UP makes it the most able to present lasting solutions.
Indeed, we have no use for empty rhetoric. Many have used the word change with impunity, often without substance, and we must take care not to fall for the words brandished by opportunists who claim to be pro-student.
The past two years have proven the futility of the politics of compromise, as change continues to elude the university despite the reformation of certain policies as advocated by some groups.
We cannot aspire for change with such defeatist logic. For in the end, reform and compromise boils down to one thing: tolerance. By succumbing to such tactics, we tolerate the failures of the current system, instead of pushing for genuine change.
We need leaders to challenge the givens of the status quo, and posit alternatives based on concrete conditions. We need leaders who do not bend to anyone’s will but their constituents’. Such leaders have the capacity to engage every iskolar ng bayan to take part in changing the system.
We need leaders who do not relent in the face of adversary, those who will not resort to shortsighted band-aid solutions instead of addressing the core of the problem. And, more importantly, we need a leadership who will always put our interests first, and struggle for our rights.
Compromise has no place in struggle. The past year has proven what we iskolars ng bayan could achieve with collective political action without compromising our standpoint. And we shall continue to do so, inside UP and beyond, chipping away the rotten exteriors of the current system until we alter it fully.
The elections offer us new opportunities, and better yet, a choice — a choice between the ineffectual compromises of the past and the unwavering struggle for a better future; defeatist tactics and genuine demand for change. It provides a venue for us to unite towards destabilizing the failing system and build a better one in its place.
STAND UP for our democratic rights and welfare!
STAND UP against repression and fight for student representation!
Enough of Gloria! STAND UP and fight for genuine and patriotic change!
Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP