UP College of Medicine Dean Tells Students & Faculty to Shut Up: On PGH Directorship Controversy & the Student Regent

Posted on March 14, 2010

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(This narration is from a UP medical student. Written March 10, 2010. For now he wishes to be anonymous.)

Just this afternoon, we had a conference in the Department of Surgery. Present were more than 100 medical students, residents, fellows and consultants. I have seen the newly appointed Chairman of the department, Dr. Gatchalian, as well as the immediate past chairman, Dr. Hilvano.

What used to be a lazy afternoon conference turned out to be an unexpected one. During the middle of the presentation of the residents, Dean Alberto Roxas, who normally does not attend the weekly conference, suddenly showed up. The dean was warmly welcomed and recognized by the new chief and was given immediate time to speak. What happened next was the oath taking of the new department chairman presided by Dean Roxas. It turned out that Dr. Gatchalian was unable to take his oath during the College Council meeting due to his absence. It was short and funny.

It was now time for the Dean to take the stage. He immediately and directly brought up the hottest and most current issue in the PGH community- the PGH Directorship. I was at this time expecting him to share with us the resolution collectively and unanimously decided by the College Council. But to no surprise at all, he narrated what happened during the BOR meetings last December 18, January 29 and February 25. At this time, all eyes and ears are fixed with the on-going short story telling. ‘On December 18, Joegon won by a SLIM margin, 6-5’, the Dean stressed. He narrated the issue on the student regent (SR) and her being irresponsible. He shared with the crowd the BOR meeting last February 25.The Dean enthusiastically said that the issue on the PGH Directorship was resolved. The student regent was not allowed to vote and that the TRO filed by the SR was junked by the court. Domingo was voted the new PGH Director.

Dean Roxas expressed that we should all respect the rule of law, as what he already said during the College Council meeting. That we should respect the decision of the BOR. That we can do nothing when the BOR decides. That the members of the BOR are all ‘independent-minded’ and respectable. Instead of voicing out the College Council Resolution, he gave his biased opinion on the matter. That while the College Council was supportive of Dr. Jose Gonzales as the legitimate Director, we cannot deny that Dr. Domingo is the functioning PGH Director. That while Joegon was occupying the Director’s office, he cannot stay there for long. He will ‘get tired’ later on.

On the issue of College Council resolution, Ted Herbosa fiercely questioned the circulating referendum. Dean Roxas explained that it was discussed during the meeting. He also said that he had informed the UP President of the resolution. The UP President expressed her sadness on the issue and that she sympathizes with Joegon.

Before he ended his speech, the Dean urged us to ‘SHUT UP’ with the issue and move on. After his speech, he was warmly thanked by Dr. Gatchalian who interestingly said, ‘Buti na lang Dean ang nag-appoint sa akin!’ Dean Roxas and Dr. Gatchalian both heartily laugh. (Dr. Jose Gonzales appointed Dr. Gatchalian, Dr. Roxas just administered his oath)

Then the conference continued.

I really don’t know what to feel now. Dean Roxas, on my belief, have omitted a lot of thing on the issue of PGH Directorship. He deliberately MISINFORMED the crowd. One, he failed to tell that the members of BOR have already resolved the issue on the SR before the election started. That SR Charizze Banez was allowed to vote. Two, Dean Roxas did not even say that Joegon have taken his oath twice. Three, Dean Roxas did not even mention that the UP President have appointed an OIC instead of installing the duly-elected Director. Four, he did not even say that other Regents, all of them sectoral representatives, were vehemently disagreeing with the recent BOR decision. Five, he mentioned no single issue (like FMAB) that darkly surrounds the PGH Directorship.

Dean Roxas was asking us to follow the rule of law? Why did the UP President then install an OIC when there is a legitimate Director and there was no vacancy? Did they respect the rule of law? Did the Dean cry ‘foul’? I have respect to our Dean. I have talked to him a couple of times. But I think he was ‘playing safe’ for most of critical issues (cheating, directorship, etc.). I believe it was ‘inappropriate’ for him, as the presiding officer during the College Council meeting, to speak strongly of his contradicting opinion on what was unanimously resolved by a council of highly intelligent and respectable physicians. It was very palpable on his tone and expression his opposition on the resolution.

SHUT UP. Very strong words dictating the students and graduates of UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES . This is how the Dean of the UP College of Medicne wants us to react on the issue that very well affects our daily lives in PGH! It is my 9th year in UP now. I owe to UP and our countrymen the education I have now. I read before that the purpose of education is to open a closed mind. We are used to be proud of the democracy that we practice in UP. We are proud of being independently-minded and highly critical students. Hearing those words from the Dean, I realized this is how they kill democracy in UP. He clearly wants us to be pathetic, insensitive and passive of the issues that continuously killing PGH. The misinformation he is doing is quickly crawling the corridors of PGH. And it is undeniably more effective than what we are doing.

Is this how the elders inspire us? Is this how they teach us? Is this how they become role models to us?

While the dean was speaking, I shortly glanced at the student and residents listening on him. I believe most of them have a grasp of the issue. But I am pretty sure that most of them are not aware of the true and deeper issues. After the conference, I know we will be back on the same unnecessary tasks that we routinely do. They did not realize why the patient they presented died due to unavailability of ABG. They did not bother to complain why they need to pay for the labs and surgical needs of their patients. They have no courage to question why they need to run for the units of blood for their patient. They have accepted the reality that in PGH xrays are limited. CT scan, MRI and medicines are often unavailable. This is the reality in PGH since its foundation. The culture of apathy continues. And almost everyone succumb to it.

It’s not about Joegon vs Domingo. It’s not about Phi vs Mu. We are fighting for due process. We question the lack of student representation. We fight for the lack of democracy. We fight for independence. We can choose to be passive. But that kills everything that UP has taught us. We will fail the patients that inevitably suffer everyday.

I felt that I did not give justice to myself. It was a great opportunity to fight for what is right. I think this will haunt me for years. I hope I will be given another opportunity. I believe I was not a supreme example of what the youth should be, as a UP student.

Originally posted here: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=365497634639&id=1441863306&ref=nf

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