By Marisse Gabrielle Panaligan
If anything, all three parties running in the Feb. 17 University Student Council (USC) elections oppose the relocation of the University of the Philippines Integrated School to make way for a mixed-use commercial development, one of the most prominent issues raised by College of Mass Communication (CMC) students in the first half of Hot Off The Grill 2011 last Thursday.
Hot Off The Grill is the annual CMC election miting de avance hosted by the UP Mass Communicators Organization (UP MCO), with the first half being opened to USC candidates for chairperson, vice-chairperson, and councilors.
The university’s three main political parties were given four minutes each to introduce their respective slates and discuss their plans of action for the USC next year before answering questions from CMC students.
Utilization of idle assets
Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (ALYANSA) and Nagkakaisang Iskolar ng Bayan para sa Pamantasan at Sambayan (KAISA) shared the same views regarding the utilization of the university’s idle assets.
“We believe in the productive utilization of idle assets but more importantly, we should make sure that our idle assets are utilized to the full potential and basically utilized for academic reasons,” said incumbent USC councilor Marck Bryan “Chorva” David, incumbent USC councilor and KAISA’s USC chairperson candidate.
Incumbent College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) councilor and ALYANSA USC councilor candidate Aides Baccay also said that his party calls for the productive use of idle assets that should be academic in nature.
He said that majority of the profits should go to UP, the bidding process should be transparent, accountable, and well-consulted among students.
However, incumbent College of Arts and Letters (CAL) representative to the USC Myx Sebastian and Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP) USC councilor candidate said that establishments such as the UP-Ayala Technohub are only band-aid solutions to the problems of the university.
“Ang dapat pong tugunan ng gobyerno ay ang pagbibigay talaga ng mas malaking badyet para sa edukasyon,” Sebastian said.
Nevertheless, all three parties opposed the utilization of the site of University of the Philippines Integrated School (UPIS).
UPIS, situated along Katipunan Avenue and well-outside the university’s parameters, is the university’s basic education unit. Ayala Land recently won the contract to develop the current UPIS site into a mixed-use commercial property, similar to the UP-Ayala Land TechnoHub along Commonwealth Avenue.
David said the proposed commercial complex is questionable. He said it does not have an academic purpose and the transparency regarding the bidding process is not clear for everyone.
“Alam naman natin iyong nangyari sa Technohub sa Ayala diyan sa may Commonwealth Avenue. Iyan ay isang bagay na hindi na natin dapat ulitin diyan sa site ng UPIS ngayon,” Baccay said.
ALYANSA and KAISA both believed that the Revitalized General Education Program (RGEP) needs to be reviewed, but neither of the two parties commented on the proposal of the establishment of an RGEP Office, in a question raised by an audience member.
Incumbent USC councilor Dan Ramos, STAND-UP USC vice-chairperson candidate, said that the party opposes the said proposal.
“Gusto lang naman po niyang [RGEP Office] i-strengthen iyong RGEP Program na nakikita nating bulok naman po talaga,” Ramos said.
The parties were also asked to explain their different ways in engaging the students without using the November 2010 strike.
KAISA is proposing an alternative petition that could be in the form of “twibbons” and Facebook statuses.
“We in KAISA believe that rallying is still very important, of course it is a tried and tested method. However, with the advancement of technology, syempre kailangan rin gamitin iyon to reach more people,” said journalism major Erika Pascua, KAISA USC councilor candidate.
Ace Ligsay, ALYANSA USC councilor candidate, said that aside from the multi-sectoral rally, they engage students in educational forums and discussions, lobbying, and online campaign.
“Maraming ways ng aktibismo. Huwag nating maliitin ito,” Ligsay said.
STAND-UP USC councilor candidate Fra Viray said that wearing black T-shirts every Friday to oppose the MRT-LRT fare hike is already a form of activism that anyone could participate in.
“Kung hindi man lang po tayo makalabas sa ating classroom para po mag-rally, maaari po tayong magsuot ng black T-shirt. Maaari po nating pag-aralan ang lipunan,” Viray said.
The three chairperson candidates, namely David, Kristine Borja (ALYANSA) and Jemimah Garcia (STAND-UP) left the miting de avance early to guest in on DZUP 1602—the university’s official radio—housed in the college’s broadcast communication department.
The USC candidates were then followed by the candidates for CMCSC who similarly answered questions on a variety of local and national issues.