By Jeuel Barroso
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (CSSP SC) bets clashed at the discussion of the students’ Magna Carta in PASABOG, CSSP’s annual SC election debate at the Palma Hall Lobby, Friday.
Drafted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman University Student Council (USC) 2014-2015, the Magna Carta is a codified list of UP students’ rights that cannot be found in any other university document.
While the Magna Carta has yet to be lobbied to the UP administration as of January, the issue remains a hot topic among SC hopefuls.
SALiGAN sa CSSP (SALiGAN) councilor candidate Christopher Kahulugan explained that his party is against the Magna Carta because the document surrenders students’ rights to the Board of Regents (BOR), which, according to SALiGAN, has been proven anti-student throughout the years.
He further stated that the Magna Carta allows the BOR to increase tuition fees and undermines the power of the student movement.
“Napatunayan naman natin… na hindi natin kailangan ng isang codified set of rights para ipaglaban ang ating mga karapatan,” Kahulugan said.
However, BUKLOD CSSP (BUKLOD) Vice Chairperson hopeful Mariel Louisse Cunanan argued against this, citing the board’s power over UP’s tuition fees as long as there is student consultation.
“The BOR has the right to increase our tuition fee,” said Cunanan. “Hindi pinapayagan ng Magna Carta ang tuition fee increase. Almost lahat ng problema natin, natutuunan ng Magna Carta.”
Independent Philosophy Department Representative candidate Kwen Kwen Cabalag also supported the need for the Magna Carta to ensure students’ rights.
“We have to have a legal, concrete document that will ensure our rights as students,” Cabalag said. “It’s not about talking about your rights… we have the right to have this legal document.”
Meanwhile, independent chairperson runner Allyson Maraon stressed that the Magna Carta for Students’ Rights complements the student movement, adding that the fact that a lone student representation in the BOR must be addressed to eliminate the BOR-related contentions against the Magna Carta.
“Patuloy pa rin nating ipaglalaban ang Magna Carta for students’ rights kaakibat ng ating pag-push for more student representation sa BOR,” he said. “Hindi Magna Carta ang end-all, be-all solusyon sa unibersidad.”
Maraon was formerly SALiGAN’s bet for the CSSP SC’s top post before deciding to run an independent bid to forward his stand on the Magna Carta.
During the debate, he clarified that he was given a choice by the CSSP College Student Electoral Board to stay under SALiGAN or revoke his candidacy. Formally, Maraon remains under the party; however, he runs unaffiliated.
Later in the event, Maraon also admitted his mistake in his Facebook post, now deleted, which read that SALiGAN and the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) imposed on him to go against Magna Carta.
“SALiGAN and STAND UP did not impose anything on me,” he said. “Sinasabi sa statements na nag-impose sila. Mali po ako.”
Maraon also clarified that educational discussions were conducted in the SALiGAN slate and that he was able to express his contentions of being pro-Magna Carta.
Bringing the debate to a college-level discourse, the candidates addressed impending relocation of CSSP organizations’ tambayans, which had been assessed as fire hazards by the Campus Maintenance Office.
BUKLOD councilor aspirant Kristine Kyla De Torres affirmed the rights of UP students to organize and to have their own spaces as per the CSSP SC Constitution, which states that corresponding spaces must be provided to organizations upon their transferring.
De Torres was supported by her slatemate, BUKLOD chairperson candidate Lorenzo Miguel Relente who added that his party has been forwarding these tambayan guidelines for years along with the CSSP SC.
This was countered by SALiGAN vice chairperson candidate Renz Pasigpasigan, who asked if BUKLOD had consulted CSSP organizations on the demolitions during the previous years.
According to Pasigpasigan, SALiGAN cooperated with the Rise for Education Alliance to write to the CSSP administration to delay the demolition.
“Tayo sa SALiGAN sa CSSP, malinaw sa atin na hindi lang mere document ‘yung ating ginagamit para itaguyod ang ating karapatan, bagkus ‘yung sama-samang pagkilos at pagtindig ng mga konsensya ng bayan para sa ating karapatan sa tambayan,” he said.
BUKLOD’s Cunanan rebutted by saying that the Magna Carta is not a simple document but one that enforces student rights, not just tambayan guidelines.
Independent runner Maraon shared the same sentiment, adding that the Magna Carta can provide students’ tambayan rights.
“Ngunit kaabikat nito [Magna Carta] dapat din nating ipagpatuloy ang kakayahan ng student movement para patuloy na i-assert ang ating karapatan,” he added.
Besides discussing the students’ Magna Carta, the CSSP bets also debated on the Free Higher Education for All Act, the influx of new establishments in UP, as well as government accountability for the homeless occupying idle housing projects at Pandi, Bulacan.