CARP and the Sumilao March

By Neil Jerome C. Morales

The battle continues for the Sumilao farmers and their call for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The farmers reached Manila on December 3 after a 1,700-kilometer march from San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon to personally voice out their grievances to the Department of Agrarian Refom (DAR) and to Malacañang.

The Sumilao case

Higaonons were early settlers of a piece of agricultural land in Sumilao. In 1940, the Higaonons were forcibly evicted from a 243.885-hectare part of their ancestral land, which was converted into a cattle ranch by the Angeles family.
In the 1970s, Salvador Carlos owned
99.855 hectares of the ancestral land while Norberto Quisumbing held 144 hectares. It was Quisumbing’s land that raised controversy.

By 1988, the 144-hectare ancestral land was covered by the CARP and was set for distribution among 137 Mapadayonon Panaghiusa sa mga Lumad Alang sa Damlag (MAPALAD) Higaonon farmers.

Quisumbing and the Sangguniang Bayan of Sumilao conspired in 1994 to issue Resolution No. 24, converting the land of the Norberto Quisumbing, Sr. Management and Development Corporation from an agricultural to an industrial/institutional area.

However, the move ran contrary to 1993 Malacañang-issued Memorandum Circular No. 54 which gave guidelines for local governments converting agricultural lands for non-agricultural use. The circular stated that lands suitable for agricultural production were “non-negotiable for conversion.” Agriculturally suitable lands are those with irrigation or available for irrigation by the Department of Agriculture or the National Irrigation Administration.

The non-conversion rule was reversed by former Executive Secretary Ruben Torres, approving Quisumbing’s application for land conversion in 1996.

Torres said the land “would open great opportunities for employment and bring about real development in the area towards a sustained economic growth in the municipality.” However, he said giving out the land to non-tenant beneficiaries wouldn’t assure such benefits.”

President Fidel Ramos, through Deputy Executive Secretary Renato Corona, issued a “win-win solution” in 1998, where the farmers would get 100 hectares while 44 hectares would be retained for Quisumbing. In 1999, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled the Sumilao conversion case based on technicalities. The SC said the DAR failed to question the Torres conversion order on time.

According to the farmers, the Bukidnon Agro-Industrial Development Association (BAIDA) project that promised museums, libraries, and housing projects did not deliver at the end of the five-year conversion period.

Instead, Quisumbing sold the land in 2002 to San Miguel Foods, Inc., owned by businessman Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., which converted it into a livestock farm for subsidiary Monterey Foods Corporation.

The Sumilao farmers are now petitioning for the cancellation of the 1996 conversion order. They said Quisumbing did not comply with the order’s conditions since he failed to begin development work in the land a year from the finality of the conversion order on August 25, 1999. Quisumbing, they said, wasn’t able to complete the development plan for the property in five years since 1999 and also submit a written request for extension within six months before the lapse of the five-year period in 2004.

The charges violated provisions in the DAR Administrative Order No. 1 of 1990, or the “Revised Rules and Regulations Governing Conversion of Agricultural Lands to Non Agricultural Uses.”

The verdict for the Sumilao case is still pending under DAR. Until the case is solved, the Sumilao farmers will keep on airing their calls for their ancestral lands.

Sustained Defiance

Amidst escalating repression, student publications remain undaunted

By Alaysa Tagumpay E. Escandor

The present is a time of suppression.

Exclamations of dissent are silenced in a climate of impunity. While top officials vow to “protect democracy,” the people’s democratic rights are snuffed out at every turn. The right to peaceably assemble is met with police and military brutality; the exercise of free speech and expression is marred by the continuing murder of journalists. Meanwhile, members of legitimate organizations, such as the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), are proclaimed “enemies of the state.”

Universities are not exempt from such repressive measures, which have become “normalized” in a supposedly “liberal environment.” As student publications boldly expose anti-student policies, school officials retaliate by attacking campus press freedom. Already, the number of campus press freedom violations (CPV’s) has increased at an alarming rate. Recent events show how student publications function in a constricted space, under the watchful gaze of the school administration. Campus papers must be monitored, the authorities reason.

Press freedom, however, cannot survive in an atmosphere of control – only its illusion.

Students’ rights above all

The existence of student publications is an affirmation of the students’ democratic rights.

The onset of the American period saw the creation of numerous universities and colleges under a colonial administration. The relative proliferation of academic institutions, and their emphasis on discussion and debate, was key to the formation of student publications. Founded on the ideals of democracy and the right to information, students saw the need to disseminate alternative narratives against the American-controlled media.

Students finance, manage and maintain the publication’s operations, usually without monetary compensation. Publication funds come solely from the collected student fund, making students its sole publisher. As such, the practice of campus journalism veers against the orientation of mainstream media, which are largely commercial and corporate-owned. Free from the attachment to profit accumulation, the students’ welfare and interests are the publication’s primary priority. On its pages, topics on repression, imperialism, capitalism and social taboos see print – a testament to its bold discussion of far-ranging, but nevertheless, critical issues. As vital agents of change, campus journalism continues to condemn the status quo’s deceptive illusions and contradictions, without fear or apology.

Uncowed, unswayed

Thus, the nature of campus publications is necessarily antagonistic, never subservient. History is replete with instances when campus journalism faced assault from both the school administration and the national government.

The near absence of autonomous media during martial law drove campus publications to expose what the Marcos regime sought to hide: the unprecedented height of corruption and human rights violations. Among these publications were Philippine College of Commerce’s (now Polytechnic University of the Philippines) Ang Malaya, Ateneo de Manila University’s Pandayan, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila’s Hasik, Mapua Institute of Technology’s Balawis, University of the East’s The Dawn, and University of the Philippines-Diliman’s Philippine Collegian.

Not a few student journalists were imprisoned, tortured and murdered. For instance, former Philippine Collegian editor-in-chief Abraham Sarmiento, Jr. was arrested by the military under the guise of “protective custody” and subsequently killed. The same occurred to Liliosa Hilao, former editor-in-chief of Hasik.

Decades after martial law, the same conditions prevail, if not worse. Human rights violations have claimed thousands of lives; corruption has never been more blatant. Militancy remains a valid call for student publications.

Gag order

Yet, in a system that fosters acquiescence and breeds indifference, militancy is not without cost.

Student publications and school administrations often have contending concerns. While the former dedicates itself to the struggle for student rights, the latter often abides by the dictates of state abandonment. Thus, the administrations’ policies on commercialization and privatization are promptly condemned by student publications. In the ensuing debate, the administration is not unscathed.

Inside the academic institution, however, publications hold no administrative power. In contrast, school administrations can easily impose their authority upon the student paper. According to Vijae Alquisola, CEGP national deputy secretary-general, among the most common forms of CPV’s are non-mandatory collection of publication funds, appointment and intrusion of advisers and censorship. The publication staff may also suffer harassment, demotion, and academic persecution, such as dismissal, filing of disciplinary cases, rejection of enrolment, and non-entry to the university.

This year, 90 percent of recorded CPV’s involved student papers that openly campaigned against the administrations’ commercialization and privatization schemes. Among these are University of the Northern PhilippinesThe Tandem, Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology’s Technozette, Tarlac State University’s The Work, Ang Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa’s The Warden and Technological University of the Philippines’s The TUP Artisan.

Meanwhile, the CEGP describes Republic Act No. 7079, or the Campus Journalism Act of 1991 (CJA), as “seriously flawed.” For instance, the CJA permits the non-mandatory collection of publication fees, without which a student paper cannot operate. Further, the act does not contain any penalty clause, leaving erring administrations unpunished. While the CJA claims to protect campus press freedom, administrations can manipulate its provisions against student publications.

Student publications are unremitting in their task to uphold the students’ rights. On the other hand, students must also vigilantly protect the publications from the administrations’ repressive policies. An autonomous student publication is a mark of democracy, the absence of which can only mean a violation of the students’ rights.

The Student Regent (SR)

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

The student regent is the sole student representative in the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest governing body of the University. Its office has not only served as a link for communication between the students and the board on policies and decisions affecting them, but has also spoken for other sectors in the University.

Although students comprise the majority of the University’s population, the original UP Charter did not provide for student representation in the BOR. 1970 saw the first recorded time a student (USC chairperson Fernando Barican) sat in the BOR, though as a non-voting observer.

Two years later the UP Charter was amended to include an SR in the BOR. However, none arose during the remaining term of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, who signed the amending proclamation. Former UP President (now Senator) Edgardo Angara proposed choosing an interim SR in 1983 and 1984. Yet it only became a reality in 1987 when then USC Chair (now also Senator) Francis Pangilinan was appointed to a regular voting post in the BOR.

Because no rules were initially formed for direct student selection of the SR, the first ten regents were nominated by the UP President. By 1997, the UP System Student Councils (now the General Assembly of Student Councils or GASC) drafted the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS). Every SR since then has gone through the procedures outlined in the code.

From college to system

According to the CRSRS, any Filipino student currently enrolled in the university at the time of nomination who has an accumulated residency of at least one year including periods of residency and/or leave of absence and has a track record reflective of his/her commitment to serve the studentry may be nominated for SR.

The selection process begins with a nomination at the college level. Should a student council decide to nominate a candidate to the unit level after deliberations, a convocation then picks a nominee to elevate to the system-wide level.

At the system-wide assembly, the autonomous units or AUs in Baguio, Diliman, Los Baños, Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao each have two votes, while the regional units or RUs in San Fernando, Cebu, Tacloban, and Palo have one vote each.

The CRSRS has been amended six times since its initial drafting. At times, proposed amendments to the code have raised controversy. Two such proposals, both from UP Diliman student councils, were junked by the October 2007 assembly.

The first by the School of Economics Student Council sought to add a minimum academic requirement for SR candidates. The other by the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council proposed to remove the role of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (KASAMA sa UP) from the SR selection process. The KASAMA sa UP is an alliance of student councils in the UP system tasked to disseminate information about the selection process.

Issues and contentions

In voicing out student sentiments, the SR has fought against “anti-student” policies. In December 2006, SR Raffy Jones Sanchez led protests against the eventually approved proposal to increase the 2007 tuition fees. On the negative outcome of the increase, the succeeding SR James Mark Terry Ridon recently presented a policy review paper to the BOR.

However, the SR office is not without flaws. An infamous case of corruption in the OSR happened in 2000 when Hannah Eunice Seraña pocketed P15 million given to her for the renovation of Vinzons Hall.

The office has not escaped the issue of “Diliman-centrism,” which supposedly goes against the OSR’s aim to represent the whole UP studentry. Only six of the 20 SRs came from units other than Diliman.

SOURCES:

Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS)

UP Charter and subsequent amendments (Presidential Decree No. 58 and Executive Order No. 204)

Office of the Student Regent

Office of the Secretary of the University

Minutes of the 1065th BOR meeting, Feb. 23, 1985

Minutes of the 1138th BOR meeting, Dec. 17, 1999

Palatino, Mong. “The UP Student Council during the storm” and “The heady 80s.” Retrieved 11 November 2007 from http://www.mongpalatino.motime.com/archive/2006-04.htm.

CMC students pay respect to departed UP profs

By Mark Anthony B. Gubagaras

 

Students of the College of Mass Communication offered prayers to UP literature professors Monico Atienza and Rene Villanueva, who passed away recently, in a candle lighting gathering held Dec. 7 under the Plaridel Hall skywalk.

 

Both Atienza and Villanueva taught at the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature at the College of Arts and Letters.

 

Journalism student and League of Filipino Students (LFS)-CMC member Marianni Lasam said that Atienza “lived a simple life” as a faculty member. She cited Atienza’s readiness to help students, as seen in the list of accounts he had to deal with the Student Loan Board regarding the tuition loans of students who asked him to be the co-guarantor.

 

Communication Research department representative Airah Cadiogan read a feature article Lasam wrote for a Journalism class about Atienza’s life as a member of the student movement and as an educator.

 

Prof. Josefina Santos, officer-in-charge of the Broadcast Communication department, who also met Atienza when she was still an instructor, also credited the outstanding contributions of the professor during his teaching stint.

 

Atienza died on Dec. 5 in his house in UP Campus after being comatose for almost a year. He has been in such state after suffering from episodes of heart seizures due to the blockage of his air passage by an undetected mass in his throat. He was part of the First Quarter Storm movement during the Martial Law period.

 

Meanwhile, Villanueva, a prominent figure in Philippine children’s literature, died on Dec. 4 at the Philippine Heart Center due to stroke. He is a Hall of Fame awardee of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, and was the executive producer of the early-90’s children’s show “Batibot.”

 

(With reports from the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Tinig.com)

Faculty-student relations body to hold workshop with CMC org reps

By Ma. Clarisse S. Osteria

CMC Student Council Chairperson Karol Mark Yee said that College Secretary Jane Vinculado is planning a workshop for organization leaders and members of the Faculty and Student Relations Committee (FSRC) to assess points of improvement in the orgs’ application processes.

“We intend to map out here each other’s ideas, comments and thoughts, and hopefully come up with a very good system,” said Yee, also an FSRC member.

Although the date of the activity has not yet been set, it will be a follow-up to the FSRC’s meeting last September with org reps and their advisers on suspected hazing in application processes of CMC organizations.

Hazing under Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law, also found in the UP Student Guide, includes “placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him/her to do menial, silly, foolish and similar tasks or activities.”

Saying that the CMC-SC did not support public humiliation in college organizations, Yee added that orgs could choose alternative activities that could still provide the skills needed to enter these organizations, such as productions where applicants could sell tickets.

May patience doon, may resourcefulness, may management, may organizational skills, tapos di ka pa mahihiya, tapos may output pa for everyone,” he said.

Expect changes

Veronica Guingon, membership committee head of the UP-CMC Broadcasting Association (Broad Ass), said changes were already made to Broad Ass’s application process. As an example, she said the size of the “I’m a proud Broad Ass applicant” nametag worn by the applicants is now smaller than the one used before.

Krystel Agnote, president of the UP Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral sa Komunikasyon (UP SAMASKOM), also said there have been changes in their application process, yet she did not give details. She said students should just observe the changes once SAMASKOM’s application process begins.

Agnote said SAMASKOM was finalizing an outline of its activities to be passed to the college secretary.

Though the required passing of such outlines has been tied to the CMC administration’s campaign against hazing in the organizations, Yee said they would be used for reservation purposes. He said the outlines, according to Prof. Vinculado, were more intended for “miscommunication that (might take) place when reserving locations and equipment.”

The FSRC acts as a liaison between the students and the CMC administration on important matters such as organizational concerns. Prof. Vinculado, as the college secretary, also acts as the FSRC coordinator.

Other members of the FSRC are Dr. Fernando Paragas (Comm Res Dept.), Prof. Marinela Aseron (BC Dept.), Prof. Patrick Campos (UP Film Institute) and Prof. Lourdes Simbulan (Journalism Dept.) CMC org heads are also included in the FSRC.

The Anti-Hazing Law, passed during the Ramos administration, seeks to prevent hazing in membership rites for fraternities, sororities and organizations. Violators could face up to life imprisonment.

The hazing issue in UP resurfaced after Cris Anthony Mendez, a graduating student of the National College of Public Administration and Governance died while allegedly undergoing the initiation process of the Sigma Rho fraternity. #

UPD nominates USC chair for next SR

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

 

University Student Council Chairperson Shahana Abdulwahid will represent UP Diliman at the system-wide student regent selection in Baguio from Dec. 21 to 22 as the campus’s nominee for next year’s student regent.

 

The University Search Committee (UC), composed of USC officers and college student council representatives nominated Abdulwahid with 14 “yes” votes last Dec. 11 during the university-level SR selection at the School of Economics. Two voted “no” while six others abstained.

 

USC officers from the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP), Abdulwahid’s party, and representatives of college councils dominated by the party made up most of those who voted “yes.”

 

The College of Mass Communication through Student Council Chairperson Karol Yee and Journalism representative Jose Carlos Maningat voted “yes.” Maningat later said the CMC-SC officers agreed on the vote. Yee added in a separate interview that majority of the council believed Abdulwahid was “capable” for the post.

 

Abdulwahid, an MA Islamic Studies student, was first nominated by the College of Education Student Council and was the lone college-level nominee in Diliman.

 

Before becoming USC chair, she won as councilor with the highest number of votes in the 2006 USC elections and served as chair of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (KASAMA sa UP), an alliance of more than 30 UP student councils, in 2005.

 

‘Continue to fight’

 

Speaking at the university convocation, Abdulwahid said the Centennial student regent would face much expectation in terms of “advocacy, commitment, discipline and enthusiasm.” She said the student regent should focus on “safeguarding the interests of the students and marginalized sectors of the University.”

 

Abdulwahid singled out this year’s tuition and other fee increases (TOFI) as the main issue affecting UP students.

 

She said the “unfavorable result” of the TOFI’s implementation outweighed its benefits and would lead to policies of commercialization that had “detrimental effects to the students and UP community.” She later added that her first priority if selected as SR would be to “continue the struggle of the students against TOFI.”

 

A challenge for the SR, Abdulwahid said, would be to reach out to the students and make them participate in issues that affect them as UP students and as Filipino citizens.

 

“The [Office of the Student Regent or OSR] does not and cannot offer a catch-all solution to all student concerns and does not and cannot address all student problems without the support of the students,” she said.

 

She said she plans to consult with the different UP units frequently to address the lack of participation of councils in the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC). She said she suggested using the GASC not only for SR selection-related activities but also for the councils to voice out their concerns.

 

In an interview with TNP after the convocation, Abdulwahid said that if selected, she also plans to conduct leadership seminars for student leaders and organizations, establish “student centers” similar to Vinzons Hall for orgs in other UP units, and undertake the rehabilitation of Vinzons.

 

System-wide selection

 

If selected, Abdulwahid would be the first Muslim student regent and the fifteenth SR from Diliman. According to the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS), she would have to leave her USC post to current vice-chair Viktor Samuel Fontanilla, who presided over the Diliman selection.

 

Three other units have also named their nominees as of Dec. 11, said incumbent SR James Mark Terry Ridon. The other nominees are Rula Yael Gongora of UP Los Baños, Deo Florence Onda of UP Baguio, and Jose Ignacio Tenorio of UP Manila.

 

The two-day meeting in Baguio—the second convened by the GASC this year—will bring together representatives of college councils from the different autonomous and regional units. Presided by Ridon, they will narrow the nominees to three after letting all nominees present their vision papers and plans of action.

 

After further deliberation and questioning, the GASC will select a final SR nominee through a consensus. If not, the selection will be subject to voting until one gets the GASC’s mandate.

 

UP President Emerlinda Roman will then endorse the GASC-selected nominee for appointment by President Arroyo. The 21st student regent will serve from January to December 2008. #