By Rachel Miranda and Katrina Alba
Tinig ng Plaridel / UPJourn.net
If building call centers and commercial centers on UP’s unused land is commercialization, how about building a zoo?
Titus Tan, Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA) candidate for University Student Council (USC) chairperson, gave this as an instance of a “productive” use for UP’s idle assets when asked for alternatives to tuition and other fees increase (TFI) at a USC mudslinging event last Feb. 20 at Palma Hall.
Tan and three other candidates from KAISA joined four candidates from Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral Para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (ALYANSA), four from Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP), and one independent candidate at the debate dubbed “Babangon Ako’t Dudurugin Kita.”
A zoo, Tan said, was his favorite example of how using the university’s resources generate income for the university while still “encourag(ing) academic integrity,” one of five “safety nets” KAISA proposed to ensure that using these lands does not border on commercializing UP.
“Ang lupa kasi is a form of state subsidy that is given by the government for us to utilize,” Tan said. “So one example na pinakagusto kong i-share: kunwari magpatayo tayo ng zoo dyan. It is not commercialization.”
Other safeguards KAISA proposed in its General Program of Action (GPOA) were consulting with affected sectors, not using these lands as a substitute for the state subsidy, preserving the environment, and ensuring transparency.
Councilor candidate Raymond Pestana from STAND-UP replied, “The problem with (these proposals) is that they entice commodification. Iiba ang focus ng administration. Magtayo tayo ng structures sa UP para pumunta ang tao, magka-pera tayo. It’s not just for education.”
When asked if the global financial crisis would make it hard for UP to get a higher share in the national budget, STAND-UP’s Jemimah Garcia said the worsening economy is enough reason the government should invest more in social services for the people.
“May pera ang gobyerno. Ang problema ay allocation,” Garcia said. STAND-UP is calling for collective action by students to campaign for greater state subsidy for UP and other state universities and colleges.
KAISA, ALYANSA, and independent candidate Christopher Yu all called for UP to develop its lands to supplement the government subsidy which funds the university.
ALYANSA is also campaigning to strengthen the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) as an alternative to TFI.
JB Gomez, running for councilor under ALYANSA, said, “Naniniwala tayo na (kung) kayang magbayad, bakit hindi magbayad? Ang hindi kayang magbayad, bakit dapat magbayad? Tutulungan na lang.”
KAISA challenged ALYANSA’s answer, saying that such a system of the rich paying more to answer for the less-fortunate was already present in the taxes paid by the parents of UP students.
The mudslinging was organized by the Halalan sa Diliman ’09 team led by the Philippine Collegian and UP Solidaridad, a system-wide alliance of student publications and writers’ organizations.