Thursday, June 29, 2006

Update on Rice Subsidy and Other Matters

On June 2, 2006, the All U.P. Workers's Union Manila have a dialogue with the UP Manila Chancellor, Dr. Ramon Arcadio. The agenda include: benefits under the Magna carta of Public Health Workers (RA 7305) and the early release of the first sack of rice.

The Chancellor agreed and suported the early release of the 1st sack of rice after consultation with PGH Director, Dr. Carmelo Alfiler (PGH constitute about 76% of the 3,400 administrative personnel of UP Manila). He also agreed to help convince the other chancellors, considering that UP Manila constitutes the bulk of the 8,000 administrative personnel of UP.

The Chancellor further agreed to form a committee to study the financial and other aspects of the benefits yet to be implemented under the Magna Carta such as the Longevity and Overtime Pay, free treatment and hospitalization and housing facility and/or allowance. To date, the seven (7) member committee headed by the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Orlino Talens had already met once, and have an imposed dealine to submit its recommendation to the Chancellor on/or before September 30, 2006

This dialogue was also adopted by the AUPWU's National Executive Committee so that before the meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) on June 21, the Chancellors of UP Diliman and Los Baños were already on board to support the early release of the rice subsidy (1st sack of the two (2) sack per year subsidy). UP's campuses in Manila, Diliman and Los Baños are considered "the big three" (heavyweights) of the seven (7) constituent units of the UP System.

Tomorrow, June 30, 2006, the UP's Board of Regents are expected to affirm the PAC's recommendation for the early release of the 1st sack of rice. However, we still need to lobby it during its meeting at UP Open University in Los Baños tomorrow at 9:00 AM. We therefore call on everybody to go to UPOU tomorrow starting at 8:00 AM.

Upon approval by the BOR, we expect each of us to received our one (1) sack rice starting on the last week of July 2006.

On the other hand, the case of our National Treasurer, Mr. Ely Estropigan has been partially resolved on our favor. Mr Estropigan was collared by the PSG and WPD operatives on June 15, 2006 during the turnover rite of the Sentro Oftalmologico Jose Rizal when Mrs. Arroyo visited the PGH. He was out on P100.00 bail on the charge of "breach of peace" in violation of a Revised City Ordinance. The charge by the police of inciting to sedition was recommended "for further investigation" instead of being dismissed outright by the inquest fiscal. We in the union however believed that the action of the PSG and WPD operatives were way out of bounds considering that the peaceful protest action was done in a public place and in UP grounds at that. The Memorandum of Agreement between UP and the AFP/PNP specifically prohibits the AFP and PNP personnel to intervene on any peaceful concerted activities done within the campus by UP constituents. The Union was therefore mulling also to file administrative charges against the PSG and WPD operatives who arrested Mr. Estropigan and the two students at PGH. We finally believed that this harassment suit filed against Mr. Estropigan will be dismissed in due time.

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