By Jeuel Barroso
Student groups from UP Diliman (UPD) and UP Los Baños (UPLB) as well as the All UP Workers Union merged together to stage a protest action pressing the abolition of anti-student policies and the violation of labor rights at the UPD Quezon Hall, Aug. 25.
In the mobilization held in time for the Board of Regents (BOR) annual meeting, students condemned UP President Alfredo Pascual’s eUP project, the Student Academic Information System (SAIS) and the Socialized Tuition System (STS), likewise calling for their complete eradication along with the university’s other profiteering schemes.
“Sa kasaysayan ay napatunayan na na hindi pinapakinggan ang boses ng Student Regent natin kaya mahalaga ang pagsasama sama natin… para talagang macreate yung social pressure, yung atmosphere ng protest, para makalampag yung admin natin, to shake the system,” STAND UP Chairperson Josiah Hiponia said.
Meanwhile, UPLB University Student Council (USC) Chairperson Merwin Jacob Alinea said one of the reasons UPLB students had to come to UP Diliman was that UP President Alfredo Pascual wanted to “see warm bodies to really know that a lot of students are against SAIS.”
SAIS is part of Pascual’s P750-million eUP Project, which aims to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems across all UP units.
Upon its implementation in UPLB this academic year, there had been glitches in the data management system during UPLB’s registration period, yielding to students being unable to secure slots for required classes.
“Ang EUP ay isang malaking kawaldasan ng pera ng mga iskolar ng bayan… sa kapalpakan nito at sa pagiging privatized nito ay hindi kailanman makikinabang ang mga estudyante,” Hiponia said.
“Kaya ang panawagan natin ay ibasura talaga itong proyektong eUP at mas palakasin pa ‘yung mga homegrown information systems natin,” he added.
In response to the massive glitching during UPLB’s registration period, the eUP Project Team released a statement saying the glitches were caused by denial of service attacks which caused the system’s instability.
“We believe the motive (of the DOS attacks) is to expose the weakness of the system,” Annette Lagman, eUP Project Consultant, said in a press conference, Aug 3.
Later on during the protest, the students were able to breach the Quezon Hall and engage in a dialogue with the UP President.
Pascual refused to abolish his flagship project, saying the BOR will review SAIS and decide whether or not to junk STS.
On the other hand, the UP Workers Alliance held Pascual accountable for violating the Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) of 2015, which provides the monetary incentives UP workers collect and have yet to receive.
College of Arts and Letters Public Relations Officer Felix Parenas, a member of the UP Workers Alliance, said in an interview that the UP Administration declared that the savings from maintenance and facilities funds purposed to be distributed to the workers were no longer available.
“Ang hinihingi naman natin [UP workers], kung walang savings, ay ‘yung merong statement of account na merong integridad. Iba-iba yung binibigay nilang [UP administration] datos,” Parenas said.
Besides reminding the UP administration of its obligation to its workers, Parenas also said the issues of students and workers stating are connected and that these joint protests increase the awareness of the UP community regarding these issues.
Despite being able to come face-to-face with Pascual to forward the students and workers’ concerns, Hiponia said the movement conducted by sectors within the UP community would not stop with the BOR protest.
According to him, the BOR mobilization is but a build-up for a planned huge walkout event on Sept. 1 as well as a system-wide shutdown across all UP constituent universities.
“Pipilayan natin ung pamamalakad ng UP admin at uulitin natin ‘yung pinatunayan na ng kasaysayan na posible noong 2010-2011 kung saan laksa-laksang mga iskolar ng bayan, mga guro at mga kawani ung lumaban para sa ating mga karapatan,” the STAND UP Chairperson said.