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.” ●

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