UPLB: IN DEFENSE OF OUR STUDENT REGENT

Posted on February 25, 2010

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IN DEFENSE OF OUR STUDENT REGENT: THE REAL SCORE BEHIND THE USC MEETING DE AVANCE

BUKLOD-UPLB’s decision to pull out of the miting de avance last night, and the subsequent rationalization of its move by playing the underdog, defies understanding. In the face of the many concrete and lashing statements Student Regent Charisse Bernadine Bañez enumerated in her privilege speech, BUKLOD can only offer lame counter-arguments that bank on perceived violations of the “values of individuals in the organization and its supporters”.

In the first place, SR Bañez made the speech in the spirit of clarifying the issues surrounding her regency. This is in line with her responsibility as SR to shed light on issues affecting the studentry, and the miting de avance is as a legitimate venue to air these as anything else. Where else should SR Bañez tell the UP students that the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) is essentially flawed, caters to less than one percent of UP students and serves as a smokescreen for Tuition and other Fees Increase? Where else should SR Bañez tell the UP students that the appointment of the three Malacañang appointees in the BOR has already lapsed in 2008, rendering their regency beyond that illegal? Where else should SR Bañez tell the UP students that the UPLB administration is actually hell bent on not allowing her to file late residency when it would only take a day to do so if not for the maneuverings of the Office of the Chancellor? Where else should SR Bañez reveal that the charges filed against her and other student leaders by six members of BUKLOD is actually flawed and grossly violates logic, justice and the 1984 USC Constitution?

If BUKLOD truly believes that the miting de avance is “supposedly a venue for intellectual and fair discourse,” it would not have pulled out. The correct decision would be to remain so that the party can redeem itself and demolish, point by point, whatever “derogatory” statements SR Bañez has stated, granting but never conceding the remote chance that these really are derogatory. Yet aside from self-congratulatory remarks and unwarranted attacks on SR Bañez’ reputation, BUKLOD has failed to present any substantive contention to prove its case. That BUKLOD did pull out only encourages the speculation that they cannot stand up to defend itself through principled and reasonable actions.

BUKLOD also claims that “the pull out was also a move to prevent further uproar among students, whether colored or neutral, who were greatly agitated by the SR’s blatant lambasting to the party.” Even while SR Bañez is delivering her speech, some of the BUKLOD members and supporters were shouting that her speech be cut short and that the miting de avance be started. Some of them who became emotional walked out. One even spit out expletives and another gave her a dirty finger.

The Student Regent, the sole representative of the students in the Board of Regents, is also a university official who is entitled to respect. It is the behavior of some BUKLOD members and supporters that is unethical and derogatory to the Office of the Student Regent, unless BUKLOD believes that such conduct befits “a venue for intellectual and fair discourse”. And how do you explain BUKLOD’s Standard Bearer Ernest Calayag’s hysterical behavior, to the extent that he even attempted to physically assault the organizers of the electoral debate and miting de avance, right after SR Bañez’ speech? If your candidates and supporters are capable of creating “uproar” on a venue reserved for intellectual and fair discussion, what does this say about your political party? Especially when that political party vowed to be diplomatic and not resort to actions brought by outbursts of emotion?

In the end, it is the students, who the candidates promised to serve, who were deprived of the information necessary for them to make an informed decision on who to vote. It cannot be overemphasized that the USC miting de avance is not merely a venue for the political parties to project themselves. It is, more importantly, a venue for educating the electorate about the local and national issues that concern them. It is a right that cannot be sacrificed just to make way for political survival and organizational pride.

It is therefore imperative for us, Scholars of the People, to think critically and revisit our positions. Amid the consternation that hounds this year’s election, we must still ensure, through the exercise of our right to vote, that our next student leaders will have the solid backing of the widest sector in the university—the studentry. We must participate in the elections because if we fail to do so, the administration will have an easy time discrediting our student leaders, just like what it did with our Student Regent.

Surrendering our right to vote is surrendering our right to representation. Surrendering our right to representation is tantamount is caused by a dearth of militancy. And there starts the death of democracy.

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Originally posted here: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=365326833153&id=650711107&ref=mf