15 December 2011

STRAW Coalition National Congress: Education Reform Conference

Education underfunding has been the signature of the Philippine government for more than two decades now. The Philippine government spends only 2% of the country’s GNP to education, compared to the 6% prescribed by the UNESCO Delors Commission. 

At the same time, tertiary academic institutions have been plagued by campus students’ rights violation due to a lack of a national policy that secures students’ rights and welfare. Academic institutions have remained discriminatory against the LGBT and women. The lack of campus democratization in academic institutions can be linked to the pervasive macho culture of Philippine society. 

Academic institutions have also been export-oriented. Degrees that cater to the need of young Filipinos to migrate are dominant because of high demand. To cater to the high demand of export-oriented degrees means secure income for private academic institutions. 

The crisis in Philippine education is systemic, owing to the minimal responsibility by the government. 

However, the opening of democratic spaces due to the Aquino government has also opened opportunities for reform-minded civil society organizations. The engagement with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education has been recognized by militant student and youth organizations like the Coalition for Students' Rights and Welfare, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, and Akbayan! Youth as areas of engagement to infuse reform into the education sector.

The proposed education reform conference intends to consolidate forces and ideas of student leaders from all over the country, from private and public universities, to be able to maximize the reform spaces opened up by the current administration.

Specifically, the Conference has the following objectives:
  • To consult student leaders, student organizations from different regions regarding the education situation specifically the Higher Education Act of 1994, Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997, Students' Rights and Welfare Bill, and the Budget Process;
  • To consolidate ideas in the discussions; and
  • To formulate an initial education reform agenda as basis for an education platform.

28 November 2011

De La Salle University Student Government Statement on the Dress Code Issue

The De La Salle University Student Government is an active member organization of the Coalition for Students' Rights and Welfare.

Good evening to the Lasallian population!

In the ongoing Student Handbook Revisions Committee, there have been both victories and small compromises for the student sector in championing pro-student changes and policies in the upcoming student handbook. Several of these victories include revising the left ID policy into a more rational yearly maximum (until you reach your sixth for your entire stay in DLSU), changing the automatic minor offense when leaving a campus pass into a small fine per day unless it is declared as lost, removing the minimum grade of 2.0 for the Latin Honors policy effective already for ID109+ students as of this 3rd term of A.Y. 2011-12, and the inclusion of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and Queer) rights and political expression in the Students Charter. These changes are all still for the approval by the Academics Council (Deans, Vice-Chancellors, and Brother President); however, they are achievements in terms of getting the SHB committee to see the students’ point of view and recommend these changes.

The pressing issue at hand now is the Dress Code, and how it always seems to be a never-ending debate between students, administration, faculty, and parents.  The problem with the existing policy is that the implementation is still inconsistent, there are still loopholes, students don’t understand the objective/goal or don’t feel that the rationale of the Dress code is enough, the violation of a student is up to the word and point-of-view of the Student Discipline and Formation Office (SDFO) officer at the time which may or may not be the same as the student’s, and students end up unfairly blaming the SDFO officers when they only implement and did not make the policy. There was a move in the SHB committee by the SDFO to further clarify the existing dress code guidelines so as to explicitly state ALL possible items of clothing which should not be allowed (i.e. halter tops, sleeveless, sando, a-shirts, racerback, etc.) so as to eliminate gray areas and double standards during implementation. On the other hand, there was a proposal by the student sector not to delve into specifics on clothing but on what was truly offensive to the community (i.e. cleavage-baring, too much skin, buttocks showing, etc.). However, due to the administration and faculty’s unwavering view that even the existing guidelines are not clear enough to eliminate the rampant violation of the dress code which leads to problems in implementation, arguments on issuance of minor offense and due process, and overall conflict in the community between the students and SDFO, there was another more radical proposal to implement a standard uniform scheme in the University which will eliminate all possible areas of conflict and confusion. The proposal to have the uniform was supported by the Administration and Faculty representatives for the reasons that there would no longer be an ambiguity as to the implementation and due process of the dress code, and no more issuance of minor offenses. The student sector was against this proposal for the reasons being that it does not treat Lasallians as mature individuals capable of deciding what to wear, does not support internationalization of the University, and would hamper and constrain students’ rights, bordering on oppressing their freedom.

In assessing the Dress Code policy, one must understand and consider what are the goals of the University. By adopting a certain dress code, we recognize that DLSU has certain principles and values which it aims to uphold, such as propriety, conservatism, professionalism and respect for other people’s sensibility. It is for this purpose that we have our existing guidelines which tell us what not to wear so as not to offend other members of the community. From another perspective, the existing Dress Code tells us what NOT to wear but does not say what we should be ENCOURAGED to wear; hence, students do not also understand the end goal. It could be that we need a Dress Code that is stated in a more proactive way, listing the goals that it wants to achieve so that students would be able to appreciate the essence and follow accordingly, still with the freedom to wear what they choose within the objectives.

From this, the SHB committee identified that the goal of the Lasallian community with the dress code was to promote professionalism and practice for the workplace in the future, as well as to uphold the Lasallian values of propriety and conservatism. This is where the Smart Casual scheme arose as a possible solution to the problem. It was supported by the Administration and Faculty because it presents a lofty image of students as looking proper and intelligent not only in the community but outside as well, and might lead them to act more maturely. Also, it would eliminate any possibility of questionably proper articles of clothing (such as sandos, slippers, tube tops, etc.) leading to a generally properly-dressed student population. On the other hand, these are the student sector’s arguments against the smart casual scheme:
  • There is no directly proven correlation between the attire and maturity of an individual, or the attire and learning capacity of a student in the University. Universities in Singapore, such as NUS and SMU, do not adopt dress code attires and yet are two of the top universities in the world.
  • The smart casual attire may not apply to all work environments, which range from the corporate world (business attire) to other non-traditional industries, such as the fashion industry, where a flexible, not necessarily conservative, and evolving attire is the norm.
  • Students prioritize practicality in choosing their everyday attire, considering that majority commute, take public transportation, and are subject to the tropical weather most of the time outside classes and when going to and from school.
  • Not all students would have a smart casual kind of attire in their closets, nor the extra income to purchase such attire.
  • And that currently, there is no direct link /document/teaching that teaches us that to be a Lasallian equates to wearing a smart casual attire.

Given this and many other reasons/arguments stated by students and student leaders, the USG is taking a stand against the Smart Casual scheme and will finalize this through a Legislative Assembly resolution this week laying out all possible arguments against the said policy. On our part as student representatives in the SHB Committee, we will not agree to implementing a Smart Casual attire in the University next A.Y. 2012-2013.

On another note, it is important to understand that the student sector cannot win all battles and that as leaders, we must choose and prioritize which battles to fight. In terms of the SHB policy revisions, we know that we have achieved several very crucial and life-changing policies for students (i.e. Latin honors, ID policy). However, it is our judgment that in this certain issue, we cannot stubbornly fight to eradicate the Dress code policy and expect to win. Realistically, if we as the student sector simply voted against the Dress Code, we would be outvoted by both the Administration and Faculty sector and would not be able to achieve any improvement in the current system. What could be even worse is that we would not have fought for the small compromises in the possible policy, which may still have protected the interests of students.

Thus, our action now as the USG is to take a concrete stand against the Smart Casual scheme and to form a Technical Working Group which will meet to craft a more improved, concrete, and feasible proposal to the SHB committee which would take into account the interests of the other sectors of the community as well as the students. This working group would be composed of the USG Executive Board, College Presidents, Political Party presidents, Debate Society, and other leaders who are interested in contributing to this effort. Our goal is to accomplish a concrete proposal in time to present it to the SHB committee during the next meeting on Dec. 1, 2011.

I would like to ask the Lasallian students in the meantime to offer any constructive input, arguments, opinions and ideas that you might have to both the Legislative Assembly drafting the resolution against the Smart Casual scheme, or to the Technical Working Group crafting revised guidelines on the dress code policy. All of your input will be highly appreciated and helpful, and more than ever, you can all contribute in making the policies that will affect us for the next three years. Please email any input to the usg@dlsu.ph as soon as possible.

I pray that in the next few days to come, all of us students would be more critical yet open-minded at the same time, understanding that we do not just consider our rights as students but also our responsibilities and always in the perspective of what is best for the entire Lasallian community.  Needless to say, students will be represented in this matter and in all future policies and issues.

Let’s all pray for the most optimal result.


Camille Aquino
DLSU USG President

19 October 2011

CHED Memo against the 'No Permit, No Exam' policy

Here is the memorandum from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) directing schools to abide by Section 99, Article XX of the Manual of Regulations for Private Higher Education (Memorandum Order No. 40, Series of 2008). This is in response against the so-called 'No Permit, No Exam' policy being undertaken in some higher education institutions.

17 October 2011

STRAW Coalition on The Manila Bulletin; Rep. Quisumbing signifies intention to co-author

Students' rights
by Charissa M. Luci
posted on the Manila Bulletin website on October 16, 2011, 2:20 p.m.

MANILA, Philippines -- Another House leader has rallied behind the bill which seeks to promote and safeguard the students’ welfare and rights.

Cebu Rep. Gabriel Luis R. Quisumbing, vice chairman of the House Committee on National Defense, has “signified his intention” to co-author House Bill 2190 or the Magna Carta of Students Rights Bill, which was refiled by Akbayan party-list Reps. Walden Bello and Arlene Bag-ao in the 15th Congress.

Last week, the Students’ Rights and Welfare (Straw) coalition got the signature of Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada for the co-authorship of the measure.

Quisumbing said that apart from recognizing and promoting students’ rights and freedom as enshrined in the Constitution, HB 2190 also seeks to regulate the tuition and other school fee increases, penalizes students’ rights violation, and strengthens the capacity and power of education agencies in ensuring that students’ rights and welfare are promoted.

“Although many schools recognize students’ rights and welfare, this bill will institutionalize the right to student represen-tation; the right to school publication and information; freedom of peaceful assembly and expression; and sundry rights guaranteeing benefits like student counseling and adequate school facilities,” he said.

During the 14th Congress, the consolidated Magna Carta of Students Rights Bill was filed by former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Quisumbing said once the bill is enacted into law, it will “ensure that all students will enjoy the right to due process and freedom from discrimination by reason of handicap, health condition, civil status, socio-economic status, political and religious belief, sexual orientation, or membership in student organizations.”

The House Committee on Higher and Technical Education of Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara earlier assured the passage of the STRAW bill will be given due consideration by the chamber.

Last October 5, Angara met with the representatives from the University of the Philippines Diliman, the Ateneo de Manila University, and the De La Salle University who belong to the coalition.

Angara said the measure will be tackled “sometime next year” after the committee had completed some pending matters including the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) bill, student loans, pending investigations on the quality of the Philippine higher education, among others.

* The same story written by the same author can also be found in Tempo, a sister publication of the Manila Bulletin.

10 October 2011

'Student Empowerment and Democracy' by Akbayan Youth National Chairperson Leloy Claudio

Posted on 13 February 2011 at GMA News Online.

The Philippines is formally a democracy; citizens vote, and many government institutions have public accountability measures. But, as most political scientists will tell you, a healthy democracy needs more than democratic institutions. Beyond elections, public accountability mechanisms for public officials, and other formal measures, vibrant democracies require strong democratic cultures.

The ontological hurdle of definition notwithstanding, engineering this culture is a difficult long-term task, accomplished through changing mindsets rather than writing new rules. Democracy, if it is to be defined as a system of governance that allows citizens to exercise reasonable control over their own interests, requires an assertive citizenry capable of challenging authority when it encroaches on individual or group autonomy.

This disposition may strike some Filipinos as too combative, especially since many of us prefer to avoid conflict and espouse so-called “Asian values” like deference to authority and smooth interpersonal relationships. To engage in polemics, to play the gadfly, to speak truth to power, or simply to be different, disrupts a romanticized oneness.

In a society saturated of faux nationalisms manifested in polo shirts with images of a unified Philippine archipelago, “magkaisa” becomes an end in itself, neglecting how the unity myth breaks down once injustices reveal the necessity of consensus-breaking dissent. Fortunately or unfortunately, democracy is dangerous, and being a democratic agent requires guts. Passivity is antithetical to active citizenship (and this is more than a semantic point).

So how do we combat the cultural inertia that the powerful exploit to maintain numbing and boring homogeneity? Well, you target the young.

The first day my students enter my classroom in Ateneo de Manila, I tell them to help me run a “democratic classroom.” By this I simply mean a learning environment that encourages free thought and speech. So while, as a teacher, I still grade my students and exercise a reasonable degree of authority, I try not to draw attention to this power. For one thing, I’d rather my students call me “Leloy” than “sir.” More importantly, I encourage them to argue with their classmates and me. Some of them are initially hesitant to do so, fearing that disagreeing with the teacher leads to low grades. One of my main goals as a teacher is to dispel this notion, and, when I accomplish this, classroom discussions become fruitful. When I don’t, they become tedious.

I am by no means the an expert in pedagogical approaches, but my own experience makes me believe that students can learn more from a liberal education rather than one based on unnecessary hierarchies. Empowered students are active students, and active students are democratic agents. Unfortunately, our educational system is structured in a way that ensures student passivity. For instance, how can we expect students to participate in campus politics when administrations systematically disempower them?

Why do students rarely get seats in the highest decision making bodies of universities and colleges? 

Democracy entails the representation of major stakeholders in decision-making bodies. It just doesn’t make sense for colleges and universities to privilege the voices of powerful businessmen over their own students.

And when students assert their rights, they become subject to repression. Some cases, such as that of Regina Mae Alog, student regent of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasay, are blatant. Alog was dismissed without due process when she examined anomalies in the university budget.

Other acts of repression are more subtle and insidious. In Ateneo, purportedly one of the country’s more liberal educational institutions, the Office of Student Organizations (OSA) micromanages student organizations through a rigorous accreditation system that allows them to monitor everything including when student organizations can meet. How can students develop the skills necessary for responsible self-governance when the administration is constantly breathing down their necks?

When left to their own devices, university and college administrations insist on their untrammelled authority, and, in the case of private institutions, they use “private rights” and autonomy to justify the most abhorrent policies. This is what Don Bosco did when they once required students to take “masculinity tests” as an admission requirement.

We live in a culture that treats college and university students as children instead of citizens with rights. And while student groups in selected institutions may win occasional battles here and there, we need a broad framework that guarantees student rights nationally. Since what is at stake here is the formation of democratic agents, this is an area where the state should limit the powers of even private institutions.

The Students Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Bill proposed by Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Kaka Bag-ao does precisely this. The bill, apart from setting minimum rights and guarantees of students (e.g. the right to a free and financially independent student government) has targeted provisions that will prevent some of the abuses detailed above. The bill ensures student representation in the highest decision–making bodies of colleges and universities, it allows them to draft their own accreditation guidelines, and it ensures that school administrations grant students access to information to official records and documents.

It is about time for us to for us to recognize that institutions of higher learning should not be exempt from the democratic values that we should collectively espouse. If, at a young age, citizens do not understand that values of representation, autonomy, and rights, the Philippines will have all the formal democratic structures without the culture necessary to animate it.

x x x

Lisandro Claudio (“Leloy”) is a PhD Candidate at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, the University of Melbourne. He is the national chairperson of Akbayan Youth.

08 October 2011

STRAW Coalition on DZAR 1026

Coalition Spokesperson and UPD CSSPSC Councilor Carlo Brolagda and former Akbayan Youth-UPD Chairperson and UPD USC Councilor Jeff Crisostomo were interviewed by Carlo Catiil and Judeth Aniscal on 'Generation K sa Radyo' on DZAR 1026 (Sonshine Radio) about the Students' Rights and Weflare Bill (House Bill No. 2190). Aside from discussing the salient points of the bill, Carlo and Jeff also tackled issues concerning tertiary education and government spending.

[Photos courtesy of the staff of DZAR 1026.]

05 October 2011

Tweet your legislators to #CoAuthorTheSTRAWBill!

Help us in asking our legislators in Congress to #CoAuthorTheSTRAWBill filed by Akbayan Reps. Walden Bello (@WaldenBello) and Kaka Bag-ao (@repkaka)!

Full text of House Bill No. 2190. (STRAW Bill):

Ask your legislators to #CoAuthorTheSTRAWBill! Here's a template for the co-authorship form which you can tweet/send to them: http://bit.ly/ozsXKZ.

Set your Twitter account to 'public' first, then
Ask them to #CoAuthorTheSTRAWBill!

@aliahdimaporo –  Rep. Aliah Dimaporo (2nd District, Lanao del Norte)
@arm7878 – Rep. Amang Magsaysay (AVE)
@catamconancy - Rep. Nancy Catamco (2nd District, North Cotabato)
@chedz_alvarez - Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (6th District, Negros Occidental)
@congjoe - Rep. Joel Duavit (1st District, Rizal)
@CutieDelMar - Rep. Rachel Del Mar (1st District, Cebu City)
@EmAglipay - Rep. Emmeline Aglipay (DIWA)
@erintanada - Rep. Erin Tañada (4th District, Quezon)
@GinadeVenecia - Rep. Gina de Venecia (4th District, Pangasinan)
@irvinalacla - Rep. Irvin Alcala (2nd District, Quezon)
@JayeLacsonNoel - Rep. Jaye Lacson-Noel (Lone District, Malabon City)
@julesled - Rep. Jules Ledesma (1st District, Negros Occidental)
@jvejercito - Rep. JV Ejercito (Lone District, San Juan City)
@kimicojuangco - Rep. Kimi Cojuangco (5th District, Pangasinan)
@KuyaEgaySanLuis - Rep. Egay San Luis (4th District, Laguna)
@lanimrevilla - Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla (2nd District, Cavite)
@luigiquisumbing - Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (6th District, Cebu)
@miroquimbo -  Rep. Miro Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City)
@pablojohncebu - Rep. Pablo John Garcia (3rd District, Cebu)
@pongbiazon - Rep. Rodolfo Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City)
@roilogolez - Rep. Roilo Golez (2nd District, Parañaque City)
@RepMelSarmiento - Rep. Mel Sarmiento (1st District, Western Samar)
@sonnyangara - Rep. Sonny Angara (Lone District, Aurora)
@Teddy_Baguilat - Rep. Teddy Baguilat (Lone District, Ifugao)
@TobyTiangco - Rep. Tobias Tiangco (Lone District, Navotas City)

03 October 2011

STRAW Coalition meets with Rep. Angara; Acquires Deputy Speaker Tañada's co-authorship


The Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW Coalition) recently kicked-off its lobbying efforts for the passage of House Bill No. 2190, also known as the STRAW Bill, with a meeting with Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, Chairman of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.

Representatives coming from the three of the top Philippine schools attended the said meeting. Students from the University of the Philippines - Diliman, the Ateneo de Manila University, and the De La Salle University discussed the salient points of the STRAW Bill with Angara.

Mickey Eva, Vice Chairperson of the UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council, emphasized that “there is a great need for students’ rights and welfare to be unified in legislation since there is still rampant abuse transpiring amid the existence of constitutionally guaranteed liberties.”

“We still experience discrimination in admission to schools due to gender and other social circumstances and the curtailment of free speech and organization,” according to Eva.

Angara gave his commitment that his Committee will calendar it for a preliminary hearing once the House reconvenes after its upcoming recess. The hearing will be conducted during the latter part of the year or early next year to give room for the Committee to finalize unfinished business such as reporting out bills that were earlier tackled.

The students were also able to get Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada's signature for his co-authorship of the STRAW Bill. “This is an integral part of our lobbying—to gather the concrete support of our legislators through their co-authorship of House Bill No. 2190,” said STRAW Coalition Spokesperson Carlo Brolagda.

The Coalition plans on taking lobbying to a different level by engaging legislators using social media through its #CoAuthorTheSTRAWBill Campaign. “Deputy Speaker Tañada's co-authorship will surely jumpstart the gathering of support for the bill,” added Brolagda, “We hope that the other legislators who believe in protecting students’ rights and welfare follow suit.” ●



Sinimulan na ng Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW Coalition) ang kanilang kampanya upang i-lobby ang pagpapasa ng House Bill No. 2190, na mas kilala bilang STRAW Bill, sa pamamagitan ng pagdaos ng pulong kasama si Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, Chairman ng Committee on Higher and Technical Education ng Kamara.

Dumalo ang mga kinatawan mula sa nabansagang pinakamahuhusay na pamantasan sa Pilipinas sa naturang pulong. Tinalakay ng mga mag-aaral mula sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas - Diliman, Ateneo de Manila University, at De La Salle University ang mahahalagang punto ng STRAW Bill kay Angara.

Binigyang diin ni Mickey Eva, Pangalawang Pangulo ng Sangguniang Mag-aaral ng Kolehiyo ng Agham Panlipunan at Pilosopiya ng UP Diliman, na “may malaking pangangailangan upang ang karapatan at kapakanan ng mga mag-aaral ay maibuklod sa isang batas dahil sa patuloy na abusong nagaganap kahit pa may mga kalayaang nakasaad na sa Konstitusyon.”

“Nararanasan pa rin natin ang diskriminasyon sa pagtanggap sa mga paaralan dahil sa kasarian at iba pang dahilan at ang pagbusal sa malayang pamamahayag at pagbubuo ng samahan,” ayon kay Eva.

Ibinigay ng Angara ang kanyang pangako na tatalakayin ng kanyang Komite ang panukalang batas kapag nakabalik na mula sa recess ang Kamara. Ang pulong ay magaganap sa dulong bahagi ng taon o sa simula ng susunod na taon upang magbigay daan sa Komite para tugunan ang iba pang nauna nang mga panukala sa adyenda nito.

Nagtagumpay rin ang mga mag-aaral na makuha ang lagda ni Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada para maging co-author ng STRAW Bill. “Isa itong integral na bahagi ng aming lobbying—ang makakuha ng kongkretong suporta mula sa mga mambabatas sa pamamagitan co-authorship ng House Bill No. 2190,” ani STRAW Coalition Spokesperson Carlo Brolagda.

Plano ng STRAW Coalition na iangat ang antas ng lobbying sa pagpukaw ng interes ng mga mambabatas gamit ang social media. Partikular na rito ang paglulunsad nila ng #CoAuthorTheSTRAWBill Campaign. “Ang pirma ni Deputy Speaker Tañada bilang co-author ay tunay na makakatulong sa pagpapalawig ng pagtataguyod ng panukalang ito,” dagdag ni Brolagda, “Nawa’y sumunod na rin ang suporta ng iba pang mga mambabatas na naniniwala sa pagtatanggol sa karapatan at kapakanan ng mga mag-aaral.” ●

29 September 2011

Passed our papers under protest! Pass the STRAW Bill now!

Stamped exam booklets to protest 
students' rights violations

In light of the continuing violations against students’ rights in public and private academic institutions, a group composed of student councils and organizations have jumpstarted a campaign to ensure the passage of the Students’ Rights and Welfare Bill or House Bill No. 2190 filed by Akbayan Representatives Kaka Bag-ao and Walden Bello.

The Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare, in a forum today at the Balay Kalinaw in the University of the Philippines - Diliman, asserted that numerous cases of such violations have been left unaddressed. In attendance were students from UP Diliman, Ateneo de Manila, De La Salle University, and Pamantasang Lungsod ng Muntinlupa.

According to Akbayan Youth National Chairperson Leloy Claudio, "Students do not let go of their constitutionally guaranteed rights upon their admission to an academic institution. The STRAW Bill seeks to ultimately ensure that students are protected in their schools through concrete mechanisms." Claudio added, "We basically want a clear-cut law that not just enumerates, but strengthens the rights of students."

UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (CSSPSC) Vice Chairperson Mickey Eva said that “amid the rights enshrined in the Constitution and various international statutes, there is still the persistence of discrimination in school admission, the imposition of exorbitant fees, the curtailment of our freedom to express and organize, among many others.”

“Another dire issue we are sure to experience in the coming days is the unjust ‘No Permit, No Exam’ policy of some schools even if there is already an existing CHED memorandum against it,” according to Cleo Leogardo, Chairperson of the De La Salle Student Government (DLSU SG) National Affairs Committee and a member of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) Secretariat, pertaining to the impending exam season in almost all academic institutions.

Leogardo further stated that “this is in violation of our right to quality and accessible education because it discriminates against a student’s socio-economic status.”

Moses Albiento, Junior Central Board Representative of the Ateneo de Manila Sanggunian and Coalition Secretary General, added that “[students] are also in danger of future threats to our rights because of the irresponsible filing of repressive and ridiculous pieces of legislation like the proposed Anti-Planking Act.”

“It does not only violate our freedom of expression and our freedom to peaceably assemble,” mentioned Albiento, “It also prescribes the creation of a universal code of student conduct which may lead to the graver curtailment of our liberties and human rights.”

Jeff Crisostomo, a former Councilor of the UPD University Student Council and currently a legislative officer in Congress, discussed the history and the status of the bill in the Lower House. "Students must be empowered in the legislative process by being equipped with substantial knowledge about the bill and the intricacies of the law in order to successfully lobby for its passage," said Crisostomo.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Gio Tingson of the National Youth Commission responded to the concerns raised by the students. “We will strengthen our commitment to advance the cause of our students by helping in the efforts for the passage of laws like House Bill No. 2190, which shall ultimately ensure the protection of students’ rights and welfare.” Tingson emphasized that “we can never truly attain genuine progress in this country if its future leaders are currently disempowered through the repression of their rights.”

The students plan on stamping exam booklets and giving them out to fellow students with the statement "Passed this paper under protest! Pass the STRAW Bill Now!" to heighten support from their peers in campaigning against students' rights violations such as the "No Permit, No Exam" policy and other forms of repression and to push for the immediate passage of House Bill No. 2190. ●


Tinatakan ang mga exam booklet bilang 
protesta sa paglabag sa kanilang mga karapatan

Kaugnay ng patuloy na paglabag ng karapatan ng mga mag-aaral sa pampubliko at pribadong paaralan, muling sinimulan ng isang grupo ng mga sangguniang mag-aaral at mga organisasyon ang kampanya upang tiyakin ang pagpasa ng Students' Rights and Welfare Bill o House Bill No. 2190 na inihain nina Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao at Rep. Walden Bello.

Sa isang forum at press conference kanina sa Balay Kalinaw sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas - Diliman, idiniin ng Coalition for Students' Rights and Welfare na marami pa ring paglabag sa karapatang pangmag-aaral ang nananatiling hindi natutugunan. Dumalo kanina ang mga mag-aaral mula sa UP Diliman, Ateneo de Manila, De La Salle University, at Pamantasang Lungsod ng Muntinlupa.

Ayon kay Akbayan Youth National Chairperson Leloy Claudio, "Hindi binibitawan ng mga mag-aaral ang kanilang mga batayang karapatan sa pagpasok nila sa loob ng paaralan. Nilalayon ng STRAW Bill na tuluyang matiyak na ang mga mag-aaral ay maipagtatanggol sa paaralan sa pamamagitan ng mga kongkretong mekanismo." Dagdag ni Claudio, "Ang nais lamang namin ay magkaroon ng malinaw na batas na hindi lamang naglalahad kundi nagpapalakas sa mga karapatan ng mga mag-aaral."

Binanggit ni Mickey Eva, Pangalawang Pangulo ng UP Diliman Sangguniang Mag-aaral ng Kolehiyo ng Agham Panlipunan at Pilosopiya, na “kahit nakalatag na ang ating mga karapatan sa Saligang Batas at sa iba't ibang mga internasyonal na batas, tuloy pa rin ang diskriminasyon sa pagtanggap ng mga paaralan, pagpataw ng matataas na bayarin, pagtapak sa kalayaang magpahayag at mag-organisa, at marami pang iba.”

“Isa pang malalang isyu na malamang na mararanasan natin sa mga susunod na araw ay ang 'di-makatarungang polisiyang “No Permit, No Exam” sa ibang paaralan kahit mayroon nang memorandum ang CHED laban dito,” ani Cleo Leogardo, Pangulo ng De La Salle Student Government (DLSU SG) National Affairs Committee at kasapi ng Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) Secretariat, na pinagbabatayan ang paparating na panahon ng mga pagsusulit sa mga paaralan.

Dagdag ni Leogardo na “isa itong paglabag sa aming karapatan para sa edukasyong kaledad at abot-kaya dahil idinidiskrimina nito ang isang mag-aaral base sa kanyang katayuan sa lipunan.”

Ani Moses Albiento, Junior Central Board Representative ng Ateneo de Manila Sanggunian at Secretary General ng Koalisyon, “Nanganganib din ang mga mag-aaral sa mga haharapin pang banta sa aming mga karapatan dahil sa iresponsableng paghain ng mga mapaniil at katawa-tawang panukala gaya ng Anti-Planking Act.”

“Hindi lang nito nilalabag ang aming mga karapatang maghayag at magdaos ng mapayapang kilos protesta,” ani Albiento, “Isinasaad din nito na dapat magkaroon daw ng isang pangmalawakang 'code of student conduct' na maaaring humantong sa mas malalang pagtapak sa aming mga kalayaan at karapatang pantao.”

Tinalakay naman ni Jeff Crisostomo, dating Konsehal ng UPD University Student Council at kasalukuyang legislative officer sa Kongreso, ang kasaysayan at estado ng panukalang batas sa Mababang Kapulungan. "Dapat mabigyan ng kapangyarihan ang mga mag-aaral sa proseso ng lehislatura sa pamamagitan ng sapat na kaalaman tungkol sa panukalang ito at sa mga pasikot-sikot ng batas upang matagumpay ang pagtutulak sa pagpapasa nito," ani Crisostomo.

Samantala, tumugon si Commissioner Gio Tingson ng National Youth Commission sa mga nabanggit ng mga mag-aaral. “Palalakasin natin ang ating panata sa pagpapaigting ng panawagan ng ating mga mag-aaral sa pamamagitan ng pagtulong sa pagpapasa ng mga batas gaya ng House Bill No. 2190, na magtitiyak ng pagtatanggol ng karapatan at kapakanan ng mga mag-aaral.” Idiniin ni Tingson na “hindi natin tuluyang makakamit ang tunay na kaunlaran sa bansa kung ang mga susunod na mamumuno nito ay kasalukuyang naisasagilid at nawawalan ng kapangyarihan dahil sa pagtapak sa mga karapatan nila.”

Plano ng mga mag-aaral na maglunsad ng pagtatatak ng mga exam booklet at ibibigay ito sa kanilang mga kapwa mag-aaral na may nakalagay na mga salitang “Passed this paper under protest! Pass the STRAW Bill Now!” upang palawakin ang suporta ng kanilang mga kasamahan sa pagkampanya laban sa paglabag ng karapatang pangmag-aaral tulad ng “No Permit, No Exam” policy at iba pang anyo ng pagtapak sa kanilang karapatan at para na rin sa paghingi ng agarang pagpapasa ng House Bill No. 2190. ●

02 August 2011

STRAW Coalition NCR Assembly Resolution

A Resolution Supporting a National Legislation to
Secure Students’ Rights and Welfare (15th Congress)

Whereas, student organizations and student governments are ideally the legitimate representatives of the student body by virtue of their electoral mandates such that their foremost concern is to ensure that their constituencies get to enjoy and practice their constitutionally guaranteed human rights.

Whereas, the Coalition of Students’ Rights and Welfare, a network of student councils/governments, student political parties and youth-student organizations, supports and promotes students’ rights and welfare.

Whereas, despite the guarantees of the 1987 Bill of Rights, students are still placed at a disadvantageous position when it comes to claiming their stakes in the whole democratic process within academic institutions.

Whereas, students are perpetually susceptible and vulnerable to unfair power and political plays of the bureaucracy within the academic institution, bereft of due process and representation.

Whereas, to completely promote and protect our students, all academic institutions and the State itself should ensure the students’ safety and well-being.

Whereas, to be able to do this, a black and white law should be implemented, specifically to guard students’ rights and welfare.

Whereas, Senate Bills 108, 911, and 1144 filed by Senators Honasan, Villar and Estrada seek to secure the democratic rights of our students.

Whereas, the Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare believes that the bills are concrete mechanisms to stop social injustices against students and assure them of a healthy and academically nurturing community.

Therefore, be it resolved, today, August 2, 2011, in the Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare NCR Assembly that the Coalition for Students’ Rights and Welfare would support and campaign for the passage of a national legislation that would secure the democratic, civil, and political liberties of the Filipino student.

For the Coalition,

Gio TingsonLead Convenor
Gibby GorresLead Convenor

Signatory organizations:
  • College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council – University of the Philippines Diliman
  • BUKLOD CSSP – University of the Philippines Diliman
  • University of the East Student Council
  • Kapisanan ng Diwa at Panitik – Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (KADIPI)
  • Alliance of Progressive Students – Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (APS)
  • Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila
  • Akbayan Youth
  • Christian Union for Socialist and Democratic Advancement – Ateneo de Manila University (CRUSADA)
  • Bigkis ng mga Iskolar Para sa Bayan Tungo sa Makabuluhang Pagbabago – University of the Philippines Manila (BIGKIS-UPM)
  • Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran – University of the Philippines Diliman (UP ALYANSA)
  • Political Science Society – Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa
  • College of Arts and Sciences Student Society – Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa
  • Black and White Youth Movement
  • Colegio de San Juan de Letran Student Council
  • De La Salle University Student Government
  • Student Council Alliance of the Philippines
  • Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista – De La Salle University (TAPAT)
  • One Initiative Movement – Ateneo de Manila University

22 March 2011

Bicol University League of Democrats: "Legislate the STRAW Bill!"

An Appeal to the Congress of the Philippines to
Legislate the Students' Rights and Welfare Bill

The Bicol University League of Democrats (BU-Leaders), a pro-student electoral party in Bicol University which has been existing for years, in its determined efforts to uphold quality education in the University, is here to give our full support to the Students' Rights and Welfare Bill, to be under deliberated on in the 15th Congress, based on the following rational grounds:

We, in BU-Leaders, as advocates of democracy, who respect the rule of law and believe in the fundamental rights and freedoms of a person enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, as a right that belongs to all citizens of this nation without discrimination, support the idea that all students from all educational institutions must enjoy freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom to a peaceable assembly and freedom for redress of grievance to proper authorities, whether they are in secondary or college, subject only to limitations set by the law and by reasonable and just policies of the school;

We, in BU-Leaders, who are firm believers in the dogma of majority rule, recognizes the fact the students are the main stakeholders and the lifeblood of every academic institution, propose that their voices should be heard at all times and be given premium importance and they be afforded with mechanisms for their meaningful participation in the policy-making and implementation processes;

We, in BU-Leaders, believe that the primary movers of change within the academe are the students themselves, not teachers, not school administrators, so that we hold all educational institutions responsible in providing for a healthy and free environment for the students in order for them to unleash their flairs and share their knowledge for the improvement of the system of education;

We, in BU-Leaders, always aspire for representation of all stakeholders in school governing bodies so we believe that schools should remain as collegiate bodies where teachers, school and students alike are always represented in major decision-making;

BU-Leaders as a pro-student electoral party, condemns all overt actions of unfair repression of student’s rights and freedoms on irrational or arbitrary grounds;

BU-Leaders, is deeply concerned with the passivity of some students and youth on matters that concern them, which we have observed is partly or mainly attributable to repression of students' rights and freedoms;

BU-Leaders, is seriously troubled by the palpable asymmetry in terms of rights, freedoms, privileges, discretion, power and authority between the school, teachers and the students which makes the latter capability weaker and school administrators and teachers more overwhelmingly powerful and imposing, so that we want a law to be passed in Congress that will guard their rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution and the law which they can use against the violators of those rights;

BU-Leaders reiterate the need for a system of education that is relevant to the needs of the people and the society (Sec.2 Art. XIV of Constitution); thus, we find the need for the Congress, through an enabling legislation and investigation, to put an end to various acts of suppression of student’s rights and freedoms in order to ensure that education will cater to the needs of its main stakeholders—the students;

BU-Leaders see the perils of the abuse or misapplication of the academic freedoms of schools and teachers, particularly as to the exercise of their right to select whom to admit to study which may have given them the brazenness to discriminate some students and the abused exercise of teacher’s right to the method of teaching to be used which may given them opportunities to require things irrelevant to the course but are only personally beneficial to them; thus, we see the need to draw a clearer demarcation line between the academic freedom of the school, the students and the teachers by legislating a law that will define the permissible behaviour of the students and a law that will neutralize powers of school and teachers with the students and we recognize the urgency of this matter based on overt and rampant infringements on students’ rights and freedoms as free individuals of this country.

BU-Leaders, together with thousands of students of Bicol University, as concerned citizens of the Philippines and believers in genuine democracy, push for the enactment of Students’ Rights and Welfare Bill in the 15th Congress deliberation this coming June 2011. We believe that academic freedom of the school should not mean to step on the fundamental rights of a free individual in a free country. We further believe that this is the fundamental step to democratize educational institutions by liberating its main stakeholders–- students first.

24 February 2011

Uphold academic freedom in UST!

Statement of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines on the case of academic repression in the University of Santo Tomas:

We, members of the Student Council Alliance of Philippines (SCAP), the broadest and largest alliance of student councils and governments, student political parties and student leaders in the country pushing for reforms in education, strongly condemn the violation on academic freedom committed by University of Santo Tomas Theology professor Aguedo Florence A. Jalin Jr.*

Recently, Akbayan Partylist Facebook page was barraged by troll anti-Reproductive Health posts by students from Jalin’s class as an “optional assignment”.  Although we welcome healthy exchange of ideas through a debate, maybe it be online or otherwise, SCAP is against all forms of coercion especially by teachers who pawn their students not for genuine learning but for advancing personal agenda.

Mr. Jalin Jr. stated in his admission that the students’ stances were “designed to show consistency of thoughts.” The students were “designed” to think alike with their professor, limiting their capability to pursue the truth and express their own opinions bereft of the coercion from their mentor.

SCAP condemns Jalin’s act of peddling incentives for the purpose of advancing agenda compromising the real value for education.  Jalin grossly violated the right of the student to quality education grounded on critical and independent thinking.

SCAP recognizes the role of our nation’s teachers towards molding a generation of active citizens for the country’s development.  At the same time, SCAP fervently salutes all the teachers, including the many in UST who have been true to their profession, who continue to mold young minds to be independent and do not debase the profession into mere incentives.

This case in UST is an indicator that the long overdue Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Bill or House Bill No. 2190 should be legislated in order to protect the students’ right to dissenting opinion.  We urge our lawmakers to help prevent future cases of academic repression through the passage of the said bill that upholds students’ right to academic freedom necessary for the conduct of citizenship. 

Mr. Aguedo Florence A. Jalin Jr.'s admission (at the comments section below the Akbayan Youth statement): http://bit.ly/pz5gCN

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