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.
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