Friday, September 17, 2004


Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo
President, All-UP Academic Employees Union
September 16, 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture and fellow guests of the Committee,

On behalf of the All-UP Academic Employees Union, we would like to thank Senator Flavier and members of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture for inviting us to make this presentation regarding the proposed charter of the University of the Philippines.

The All-UP Academic Employees Union is the union of academic personnel (faculty and research, extension and professional staff or REPS) of the UP System with Certificate of Registration No. 1167 from the Department of Labor and Employment and the Civil Service Commission. We are in the process of working for recognition as the sole and exclusive negotiating agent of rank-and-file faculty and REPS with the UP administration.

While UP faculty and REPS were originally part of the All-UP Workers Union when it was established in 1987, a July 1992 Supreme Court Decision (G.R. No. 96819) necessitated the formation of two separate bargaining units for UP employees: one for the rank-and-file non-academic personnel and the other the rank-and-file academic employees. Hence in December 2001, the General Assembly of the All-UP Workers Union voted for the separation of academic and non-academic members and the All-UP Academic Employees Union was established. However, the two unions work closely together on common issues and concerns as UP and public sector employees.

Our stand on the need for a new UP Charter:

We are one with the sponsors of the various Senate Bills and with the UP Administration on the need for a new UP Charter. The present UP Charter enacted in 1908 needs to be replaced by a new Charter which will embody the changes that the University has undergone after almost 100 years and make the University more responsive to the times.

However, we differ with regards to two substantive aspects of SBN 226, SBN 566, SBN 1066 of Senators Osmena, Villar Jr., and Angara respectively: the retention of the Board of Regents as the governance body of the university and the section on land grants and other real properties; to wit:

“The Board of Regents may plan, design, approve and/or cause the implementation of contracts, mechanisms and financial instruments, such as joint ventures, long-term leases, fully-owned subsidiaries, securitization and outright sale, to give the University the flexibility to generate revenues and other resources from land grants and other properties.”

A Governance Body Which is Democratically Selected, Representative and Transparent

The issue of democratization is very much at the heart of our support for a governance body composed of elected representatives from the faculty, REPS, administrative staff, students and alumni from the seven constituent universities of the UP System together with the Chairs of the CHED, of the Senate Committee on Education, of the House Committee on Higher Education and the President of the UP Alumni Association. We believe that the Board of Regents, a creation during the American colonial period, has retained its colonial character as a small body not accountable to the principal university constituencies. After almost 100 years, isn’t it about time to democratize the governance system of our premier state university?

The creation of a System University Council (Section 12 of SB 1106, Section 13 of SB 221) is not the answer to our call for the democratization of the governance structure of the University. In fact when we had consultations on our proposal for a UP Charter, a section on a University Senate with powers similar to that of System University Council was dropped after discussions revealed that many of the powers of a University Senate are already exercised by the University Councils of the different constituent universities. Instead the consultation agreed that the formulation of academic policies with system-wide implications such as the University’s Admission Policies or a General Education Program can be done by convening, as the need arises, a special body composed of representatives from the different University Councils rather than creating another layer of bureaucracy in the University structure.

No to Commercialization

Members of the Committee who were part of the 12th Congress, may be aware of the opposition raised by organizations of students, faculty, REPS and administrative staff regarding then SB 2587 or the Pangilinan Bill. That history of opposition included the violent dispersal of our September 9, 2003 rally and the arrest and detention of 10 UP students and three young faculty members. The major locus of that opposition then concerned the same provision on Land Grants quoted above.

While SB 1106 sponsored by Sen. Drilon basically retains the Board of Regents as the governing body of the University, we note that the bill does not contain the explicit subsection on the Board of Regents’ power to commercialize UP mentioned above which the three other bills have. Instead, the bill contains Section 10 (q) which gives the BOR the power “(t)o organize and finance a corporation under the Corporation Code to assist the University in the discharge of its functions”. Is this another way of saying the same thing or does Senator Drilon share our view that the University of the Philippines as the premier state university in the country should not be involved directly in commercial ventures which are not the purview of a state university?

We hold to the belief that the University of the Philippines is the country’s premier state university and that for it to be able to fulfill its role in providing quality but affordable education to our youth, it must focus on its role as an academic institution. However, the trend has been towards the freezing or reduction of government budget allocation for social services including education and a demand from the government for the state universities and colleges to raise their own funds.

But state universities and colleges, based on May 2003 data from the Commission on Higher Education, comprise only 7.51% of the total number of tertiary level educational institutions. Even if we include the local universities/colleges (LUCs) and other state managed tertiary level schools, the percentage share of these is only 10%. Moreover, of the three million students at the tertiary level for AY 2004-2005, only 26% can be accommodated by state universities and colleges. (Bulletin, June 6, 2004)

In sum, tertiary education in the Philippines is in the main already privatized. The pressure on UP and other state universities and colleges to raise their own funds and to go into commercial ventures is another indication of the abandonment of the state and is essentially in consonance with the recommendations of the 1999 World Bank and Asian Development Bank report, Philippine Education for the 21st Century: The 1998 Philippine Education Sector Study (PESS) The ideal system of education, according to PESS, is a “privately provided system, selectively supported with public funding”. It recommends that the “central government should limit its activities to those that cannot be covered well by the private sector” and criticizes the budget increase for secondary and tertiary education during the 80s. According to the study, such increase “has had the predictable effect of undermining the private sector’s share of the education market. Indeed, the sheer size of the private sector is an indication that the private market was satisfying quite well the demand for education at these levels, at least in urban areas.”

Hence our opposition to the section on giving the power to the Board of Regents to enter into securitization, joint ventures and outright sale is an opposition to the continuing trend of the state abandonment of its obligation to provide affordable and quality services to the people, including education.

Special Attention to the Research, Extension and Professional Staff or REPS

There are over 1000 research, extension and professional staff in the University. They are librarians, research personnel, extension personnel with many having master degrees and PhDs. Previously called the academic non-teaching staff or ANTS, the REPS as non-teaching academic personnel have academic eligibilities which are in many cases at par with the faculty. The section on Appointment Requisites (Section 20 of SB 221, Section 18 of SB 1066 and Section 21 of SB 1106) of three of the four bills gives recognition to the REPS by exempting them, together with the faculty from any Civil Service examination or regulation as requisite to their appointment.

However, this same recognition of REPS as a distinct sector of the University is not accorded even in the limited addition to the composition of the Board of Regents in all the proposed bills. The REPS have no separate Regent as the proposed Staff Regent represents both the administrative (non-academic personnel) and the academic non-teaching personnel.
Finally, we would like to put on record that the two substantive content of SB 221, SB 566, SB 1066 and SB 1106 : the retention of the Board of Regents and the provision on giving the BOR the power to enter into commercial ventures which we oppose are intertwined. It would be easier for a small body such as the Board of Regents to accelerate the commercialization and privatization of the University of the Philippines.

Thank you.

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