Why I voted for Alfredo Pascual
Judy M. Taguiwalo
December 6, 2010
The Board of Regents in its special meeting last December 3, 2010 selected Former Alumni Regent Alfredo Pascual as the 20th President of the University of the Philippines . He garnered the majority of six (6) votes in the first and only round of voting. The voting by all members of the Board, including the Chair, was by secret ballot.
As the UP Faculty Regent, I have always stood for transparency and accountability. For various reasons, not all faculty members, colleagues and friends were in agreement with my decision to vote for Alfredo Pascual. In my November 18 statement issued prior to the originally scheduled day for the selection of a UP President, I stated my criteria for the vote I was going to cast:
My own experience with the Roman administration, especially these past two years as a member of the BOR, has brought home the crucial significance of democratic governance as the prime requirement for the University to move forward. This means transparency, accountability and a consultative mode of governance and being straightforward with data and information. It is also important that appointments, especially for academic positions and administrative positions, should be based on merit not on loyalty or on patronage. It means that decisions made by the Board should be implemented regardless of the President’s position, in the rare cases, when he or she is in the minority. It also means recognizing Deans as the prime academic leaders of the various colleges and academic units. It also means equal treatment of faculty and staff for non-academic awards and benefits such as health incentives or sick leave credits. And a President who would work hard to ensure academic excellence and academic freedom and in advancing the public and public service character of the University.
Pascual’s lack of a Ph.D. was admittedly a valid concern, but the “Minutes of the 1182nd Meeting of the BOR held on May 27, 2004” explains why such this qualification was not required: “The President (Nemenzo) said that a Ph.D. would have excluded Presidents Romulo and Lopez who turned out to be good Presidents. There are other ways of establishing oneself.”
Alfredo Pascual’s vision statement posted at the UP website has much in common with the criteria listed above. He emphasized UP’s “historic commitment of service to the nation” and recognized the importance of democratizing admission to the university so that “no qualified students should be allowed to forego a U.P. education simply because of financial reasons”. He is also distinct from the other candidates in articulating a desire for “strengthened general education program” with a bias for relevance and service to the nation and for his stand on fair treatment and equity regarding employment, compensation and social benefits for staff and faculty. Another crucial point is his vow to work for the financial sustainability of UP without compromising its public and academic character. Finally, his understanding of democratic and good governance, based on collegiality, representation, consultation, transparency, predictability, and accountability echoes many of my own personal views.
Pascual also took a stand on many controversial issues which plagued the BOR this past tumultuous year when others, from whom much was expected, either kept silent or spoke belatedly:
1) He voted against the removal of then Student Regent Charisse Bañez who was not allowed to enroll for residency after the registration period and the unjust removal of PGH Director Jose Gonzales;
2) He has been firm about the implementation of a standing BOR decision regarding the two-term limitation for deans and chancellors;
3) He supported nominees for deanship who were highly qualified but who were not endorsed by the UP Administration;
4) He was insistent on the policy that Chancellors should implement the BOR decision that the search process for Deans and Directors ”shall start at least three months before the end of the term of the incumbent”;
5) He voted for providing equitable or relatively equitable benefits on non-academic areas for faculty and staff: e.g. P10T for faculty and P8T for staff versus the P10t and P6t proposal of the UP Administration for the “sagad” award;
6) He voted for the grant of the appeal for tenure by Sarah Raymundo on the basis that the decision to deny her tenure was not based on academic groundsand has supported efforts for the implementation of that May 27, 2010 decision which until now has not been implemented;
7) He saw the need for due diligence in examining proposals from private corporations interested in leasing UP lands and has opposed unsolicited proposals which gave undue advantage to individual corporations.
8) He actively supported our students in the campaign to oppose the proposed P1.39 billion cut in the 2011 UP budget.
We have not, however, always been in agreement in the BOR particularly on two very important cases:
1) He supported the approval of the Faculty Medical Arts Building (FMAB) which provides not only the opportunity for our medical doctors to have limited private practice within the confines of PGH (which I support) but which also establishes a private pharmacy, radiology and laboratory in direct competition with PGH facilities (which I strongly oppose).
2) We were also on different sides regarding the issue of the Economics students who were charged with cheating but who were found guilty “of other forms of misconduct” by the Student Disciplinary Board (SDT). I supported the University Council decision that the graduation of these students be withdrawn and that they be made to serve the penalty of 45 days suspension. The majority of the members of the Board, including Pascual, decided that as cheating was not the official finding made by the SDT, the one-year delay in the issuance of the diploma and transcript of the students was sufficient penalty for them. It was only President Roman and I who differed with the rest of the members of the Board on this issue.
I have no doubt that there will be future issues where the incoming President and I would take opposite sides. But I have some grounds for optimism, based on how he conducted himself in the BOR that he will take positions generally consistent with the vision of a democratic university in the service of the nation, and adopt principles of democratic governance including and especially regarding appointments based on merit and not on fraternal affiliation, loyalty or repayment of debts. Nevertheless, Alfredo Pascual as the UP President starting February 10, 2011 must prove himself through deeds if he can live up to what the UP community expects from its President.
My vote for the UP Presidency was not done without thorough study. I talked to candidates who asked to meet with me. I have also received feedback from faculty members of various UP units. I have studied carefully the candidates’ CVs and vision statements, listened to them in all three public fora and participated in the Board’s individual interview of all nominees. I have listened to diverse voices from UP faculty members, alumni and even my own physician, supporting various candidates. But in the absence of a popular vote among the faculty members, a process which has been removed by past UP Administrations, I stand by the choice that I have made. However, I would fully support the institutionalization of a process by which the Faculty Regent’s vote in future selection of the UP President would be determined by the results of a referendum of all faculty members.
I was elected as Faculty Regent with a large majority in the 2008 Faculty Regent selection. I know that those who voted for me did so because of my clear record of advocacy for faculty rights and welfare and my principled positions on university issues and governance as well as on national issues. I have done these regardless of the stand of the UP Administration. I, together with the faculty, staff and students of the University, will continue to be a militant advocate for a democratic university of the people during the watch of the 20th President of the University of the Philippines.