By Franz Jonathan de la Fuente
As the new president of the University of the Philippines (UP), former alumni regent Alfredo Pascual vowed to focus on university funding.
The Board of Regents (BOR), UP’s highest policy-making body, selected Pascual as the university’s 20th president by a simple majority in the first round of voting at their meeting at Quezon Hall earlier today, said Student Regent Jaqueline Joy Eroles.
Pascual said he would strive for no tuition fee increases during his six-year term. Instead, he would focus on finding alternative funding in “an open, competitive process.”
“Kailangan natin ng additional revenue, subsidy, and we need to control costs too,” he said.
The retired international development banker stressed the value of budget management.
“May balde ka nga, eh kung butas naman ito, sayang rin ang tubig na iniipon,” he said.
The University Student Council (USC) was quick to support the 62-year-old retired international development banker, who worked for the Asian Development Bank for 19 years before he became the UP Alumni Association president and Alumni Regent in 2008.
“Sinusuportahan namin ang pag-elect kay Pascual,” said USC chairperson Rainier Sindayen. “Convinced naman kami sa record niya at sa mga pagboto niya sa mga importanteng issue.”
Pascual’s record as a BOR member indicates he is pro-student, Sindayen said. He voted in favor of allowing then Student Regent Charisse Bañez to keep her position and awarding tenure to Sociology professor Sarah Raymundo.
Sindayen said the former alumni regent has taken the side of the students in the UP budget cut issue by condemning the P1.39 billion slashed from state funding and calling for higher state subsidy.
As the debate of whether or not UP is facing a budget cut continues, the Senate amended the national budget on Wednesday, increasing by P146 million the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses allocation for state universities and colleges.
Legislators will approve the budget in a bicameral session at the House of Representatives early next week before it is signed by the President.
“But it doesn’t stop there. Gusto kong magrehistro ng hamon sa bagong presidente,” Sindayen added. “Matindi ang hamon ng mga estudyante sa kanya,at kailangan niyang patunayan ang kanyang mga pangako… sa paggiit ng mataas na budget para sa UP.”
Pascual called for unity among all sectors of the university and vowed to work for making UP the top university not only the country but also in the region.
The new UP president finished Chemistry at UP in 1969, earning his masters, also at UP, in 1972.
Pascual will serve a six-year term as UP President beginning in Feb. 2011, and will be replacing outgoing Pres. Emerlinda Roman.
With reporting by Lowell Fredrick Madrileno