By Frances Josephine Espeso and Pathricia Ann Roxas

University of the Philippines (UP) students challenged incoming UP President Danilo Concepcion to provide quality and accessible education and student services on the UP Board of Regents’ selection of the 21st UP President Tuesday.

In a mobilization during the selection of the university’s highest decision-making body, the students also called for the UP Law dean to uphold UP’s mandate as the national university.

Weeks prior to the selection, student leaders from the entire UP system gathered in three separate Island-Wide Student Congresses (IWSC) to draft a general Student Agenda with calls for accessible education as well as a pro-masses perspective for the next UP president.

UP constituent units (CUs) in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao drafted student demands in their congresses last Nov. 12 to 13, Nov. 5 to 6 and Nov. 8 to 9 respectively, before collating them into a comprehensive UP Student Agenda.

“We believe that at the end of the day, our sharp analysis of the concrete condition of the student body, anchored upon the situation of the Filipino people, will be the foundation of effective campaigns so as to promote our welfare,” Student Regent Raoul Manuel said.

Meanwhile, in a statement released by the Office of the Student Regent on Facebook, Manuel said Concepcion, who will replace outgoing UP President Alfredo Pascual, “gave the most positive commitments” toward the Student Agenda, among other nominees.

“He committed to aid in our campaign against tuition and other school fees increase and to ensure transparency with regard to the fees collected by our university,” the statement reads.

“Particularly, he plans to issue a moratorium on tuition and other fees increases. He is also willing to engage with the students in order to study the possibility of free UP education,” Manuel added.

Manuel also said Concepcion recognized students’ opposition to General Education (GE) reform and approves to hold the implementation of the P752-million eUP project of his predecessor.

“Though he is for the holding of its implementation, he must recognize the the eUP project as a form of privatization for the interest of big and foreign businesses,” Manuel said.

“While he supports the campaign against tuition and other school fees increase, we asserted that the next UP President must junk all exorbitant, redundant, and dubious school fees,” he added.

Student concerns were not the only issues raised by the participants in the mobilization held the morning of the selection of the UP president. Joining the students in demanding the return of UP’s public character, UP workers also called for an end to contractualization in the university.

“Nariyan din ang hamon na iwaksi ang kontraktwalisasyon sa UP at ibigay ang kanilang mga benepisyo, partikular na ang Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) incentive,” said Alfrey Oria, University Student Council College of Engineering Representative.

Incentives brokered through the CNA, a contract negotiation where the accredited employees’ organization acts as the negotiating unit between itself and the employer or management, are based on the terms and conditions whose improvements are not dictated by law.

“Hamon [kay incoming UP President Concepcion] na unahin, bago sa kanyang pansariling interes, ang pagtugon sa mga pangangailangan ng mga mag-aaral at mga kawani ng pamantasan,” added Oria.


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