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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Clarifying Why UP Students Should Vote YES in the Student Regent Referendum on January 26-31, 2009

Peddling ‘democracy’ and other myths:
A response in defense of the Office of the Student Regent

No word perhaps is as misused, abused, and twisted to fit the interests of a selfish few than the term democratic. The past few days we have been assaulted by a flurry of statements from certain student councils and political formations calling for the democratization of the Student Regent selection by subjecting their personal proposed amendments to the impending referendum to approve the selection rules. These groups have gone to the extent of expressly endorsing the failure of the referendum by enjoining the students to register a negative vote. At a juncture when the potency of our student institutions and, in essence, the power of our collective action, is undermined, there is no other recourse than to expose and resist such semantic deception and divisive intervention.

The referendum is not the proper venue for amendments to be adopted. The Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS) in its current form provides ample mechanisms for student councils to propose amendments to the same. As the CRSRS is still in effect, student councils have yearly been given until the first day of October to forward their proposed revisions, which these councils failed to do. This, however, is not merely a matter of technicality. The wisdom behind such prescription lies in the need for the approval by student councils across the UP system through the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) of any and all proposed amendments to the rules.

To obstinately insist on subjecting such amendments to the referendum is an act of arrogance and is in itself antithetical to the concept of democracy that these same groups relentlessly invoke. These student councils are practically asking that the assembly be bypassed, and that the position of the other councils on their amendments be effectively muted. It is worthy to note that these same revisions are the ones that have been, time and again, rejected by an overwhelming majority of student councils across UP through the GASC. Again, to ignore this historic position of the majority on such proposals runs counter to the idea of democracy that the groups in question so glorify.

A few words on the proposed amendments, nevertheless, are imperative. Apart from the fact that former Student Regents have been selected without a minimum academic requirement, as now proposed by some student councils and organizations, but have exceptionally discharged their duties, the inclusion of such condition conflicts with our collective position that the Student Regent selection is and must purely be a student affair and poses unjustly discriminatory effects.

These councils yet again posit that the selection process can be democratized through "proportionately" allowing one vote for each council. While a 'one council-one vote' scheme would sound appealing especially in the usual yet elementary and restrictive appreciation of 'democracy', the bigger problem lies in the fact that the current allocation of votes (2 for autonomous units, 1 for regional units) is precisely so in a conscious effort to preclude monopoly of the position by the unit with the most number of colleges. Certainly, this is not the brand of 'democracy' we would like to partake in.

The deletion of the role of the Kalipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (KASAMA sa UP) in the CRSRS has further been the subject of their proposed amendments. The CRSRS is clear as to the function of KASAMA sa UP by virtue of its historical role in the re-establishment of the Office and thus mandates the alliance to provide the necessary historical perspective on the institution and the selection process. The GASC remains the highest decisive body as regards the selection process. To remove the alliance's significance as enshrined in the CRSRS is to betray the Office's very history and ignore the historic collective struggle of the alliance's member-councils to defend the Office from unceasing attempts to strip it of its liberative power of representation.

There is no misinformation to the claim that a failed referendum may result in the vacancy of the Office, and that such may pave the way for intervention by the administration. The fear that stems from an unsuccessful referendum is that such may leave the Office vacant until the CRSRS is approved, and consequently, the students will have no representation in the Board of Regents, UP's highest policy-making body. While pertinent laws state that the incumbent remains in position should no successor to a public office be appointed or selected, such opinion, however, fails to note that the current Student Regent is set to graduate and would thus no longer be qualified to hold office.

More importantly, a vote in the negative is a tacit invitation for administration intervention. UP President Emerlinda Roman has confirmed the possibility that the administration may recommend any student for the position only if the students would approve of such. Knowing the administration's conception of 'student approval', as shown in the manner by which the 300% tuition hike, for example, was treacherously approved and justified, a failed referendum presents us only with unfortunate scenarios.

Ultimately, a vote in favor of the selection rules is a vote for the Office of the Student Regent and for genuinely democratic student representation. The fact remains that the mandatory conduct of a referendum undermines the capacity of the GASC to administer its own affairs and refuses to recognize the autonomy of the assembly itself in formulating its own rules on the conduct of the selection process that have always been upheld by the majority through its own democratic devices. It must be remembered that the provision in the new UP Charter mandating the conduct of the referendum was insidiously inserted, without any democratic consultation as its basis, by a former UP Diliman Student Council chairperson affiliated with a particular group which now asks us to 'check the OSR’.

It is in this repressive nature of the referendum that we are now calling on the students to unite in voting 'yes' to precisely prove to the administration and to these reactionary student groups that no deception and intervention shall deter us. The pursuit of true democracy, after all, can never be claimed by a selfish few who advance their vested interests and hunger for power in the guise of spurious claims of promoting ‘democratization’ and ‘student participation.’ Most importantly, democracy lies in a conscious and concerted effort to defend our democratic institutions especially when false and opportunist student leaders not only miserably fail to do so, but even connive towards such repression.

Vote YES! January 26-31, 2009 Student Regent Referendum. Bring your student I.D. or Form 5 and vote in your respective college precincts, all over the UP System.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Vote YES to Defend the Office of the Student Regent on January 26-31, 2009 (U.P.-Systemwide Referendum)

Dear colleagues and students,

Hon. Shahana Abdulwahid, the current Student Regent of the University of the Philippines System, informed us of a systemwide referendum on January 26-31, 2009 to have the students vote on the rules in the selection of the student regent. We urge faculty members to inform and remind your students to vote in the systemwide referendum on January 26-31, 2009. We urge undergraduate and graduate students (including faculty members who are currently enrolled in UP) to participate in this referendum for genuine student representation in the Board of Regents, the highest policy making body of the University. Please find herewith (1) an Open Letter from Student Regent Shahana Abdulwahid, (2) Guidelines in the Conduct of the Referendum, and (3) a link to an article by Prof. JPaul Manzanilla, former Student Regent, on the historic role of the Office of the Student Regent.

Please pass.

Kind regards,
Mykel Andrada

Go out and vote. Participate in the systemwide referendum for the Office of the Student Regent on January 26-31, 2009.

Defend Student Rights. Defend Student Representation.
Vote YES and Defend the Office of the Student Regent.

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In Defense of Student Representation
An Open Letter from the Office of the Student Regent

Warm greetings!

As the university heads to the final days of its year-long centennial celebration, I have observed that one historical landmark of the students' democratic struggle inside the academe remains largely ignored- the creation of the Office of the Student Regent (OSR).

Now that the university looks back on its 100 years of existence, the significance of the OSR must not be ignored or forgotten. For the office is a concrete product of the UP Students' sustained efforts for the representation in the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest policy-making body in the University. The BOR was once dominated by personalities appointed by Marcos. And although the students formed the largest sector in the university, there was no student representative in the body.
The students, however, fearlessly pushed for their democratic rights. Even during Martial Law, they held massive student demonstrations inside and outside the academe, determined in the face of repression from both Malacanang and the UP Administration. As the students' campaign reached its peak, the administration relented. Pres. Corazon Aquino approved Executive Order No. 204, which led to the inauguration of the OSR. Since then, the office has become a symbol of victory for the UP studentry in asserting their democratic demands to the BOR.

Historically, the office has spearheaded the fight for greater state subsidy by initiating lobbying efforts in Congress and student actions. It has also stood up against discrimination on the basis of class, gender, race and religion. For this is the mandate of the OSR- to safeguard the interests of the students at all times.

Despite several attempts to render the OSR impotent in its duty to serve the students and the people, it has struggled to remain loyal to its function by pushing for measures to ensure the quality and accessibility of UP education and to realign the thrust of the university along the democratic interests of the people. At the locus of the campaign for student rights and welfare across UP units is the sole student representative to the BOR.

Ironically, the OSR is hounded by uncertainties, even as the whole university looks confidently to another 100 years. Traditionally, the General Assembly of Student Councils approves the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection. The new UP Charter, however, obliges a referendum of students in order to approve the selection process for the Student Regent. The mandatory referendum is a move by the state and administration to invalidate the student-crafted selection process which exhibits student autonomy and self-governance.

A referendum is a logistical difficulty. The process requires more than half of the entire population of UP students nationwide to cast their votes in favor of the OSR. There are two possible scenarios, should the students fail to clinch the majority vote: the office may be left vacant, leaving the students without representation in the BOR, or the office may still be occupied, but by a Malacanang-appointe d student regent. Either way, the institutional autonomy of the OSR is undermined. This presents dangerous implications for the office, whose commitment to democratic rights is ensured, in part, by its independence from Malacanang and administration intervention.

Sadly, these bleak scenarios come at a time when student representation in the BOR is much needed. Today, the rightful role of students in the development of the university and country is being challenged at all fronts, from the reduction of state subsidy to the militarization of campuses. It is worth noting that year after year, the state has slashed added income. Meanwhile, legitimate student institutions and formations at the forefront of campaigns against commercialization are met with suppression.

At this landmark moment in history, there is no other way to succeed over threats against our rights to representation than to collectively rise up to the challenge of a referendum. At a time of crisis, we are tasked to protect, defend, and uphold our sole voice in the BOR, in the same way that we are tasked to advance our democratic struggle against commercialization of education and campus repression, not just for ourselves but for the future generations. Now that the office is in peril, let us continue the spirit of vigilance and persistence that led to the founding of the OSR.

With the firm resolve demonstrated by those who fought for the OSR, I call on the broadest number of UP students across the entire university system to support the campaign to defend the OSR and prove, once and for all, that measures meant to impede our democratic rights shall fail against the collective militancy of the students. By defending our basic rights to be represented, we concretely reaffirm our democratic struggle for greater state subsidy, for tambayans, and for our right to organize.

Once more, history demands that students register the potency of collective action in the fight for freedom and democracy inside and outside the university. We will respond to this challenge, valiant and united.

University of the Philippines Student Regent

Join the OSR Volunteer Corps
Contact 0916-26351-43 (UP Diliman)

Guidelines in the Conduct of a Referendum for the Approval of the Procedure and Qualifications for the Selection of a Student Regent Pursuant to Section 12 (g) of the University of the Philippines Charter

On 29 April 2008, RA 9500 entitled "An Act to Strengthen University of the Philippines as the National University" (UP Charter, for brevity) was enacted, providing, among others, for the conduct of a referendum among the UP students for the approval of the procedure and qualifications for the selection of a student regent.

Sec. 12 (g) of the new University Charter provides:

Section 12. The Board of Regents. -

(1) Composition - the governance of the national university is vested in a board of regents known as the "Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines System," hereinafter referred to as the "Board," composed of:


(g) One Student Regent, to serve for a term of one (1) year, chosen by the students from their ranks in accordance with the rules and qualifications approved in a referendum by the students.

Thus, the necessity to conduct a referendum among UP students pursuant to the University Charter, in accordance with the following guidelines:


A. The referendum shall be conducted on January 26- 31, 2009 under the control and supervision of the Office of the Student Regent in coordination with official OSR designated referendum officers in UP units, University and College Student Councils, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and / or Director of Office of Student Affairs and Office of the College Secretary.

B. Voting shall start at 8 in the morning and shall end at 9 in the evening at the following campuses / precincts:

1. UP Baguio

2. UP Diliman

3. UP Diliman Extension Program in Pampanga

4. UP Manila

5. UP Los Banos

6. UP Open University

7. UP Visayas in Miag-ao

8. UP Visayas in Iloilo City

9. UP Visayas Cebu College

10. UP Visayas Tacloban College

11. UP Manila School of Health Sciences in Palo, Leyte

12. UP Mindanao

13. UP Manila SHS in Baler, Aurora

C. Counting / Tabulation in each designated precinct shall proceed immediately after the balloting has been declared closed.


A. The Office of Student Regent, in coordination with the Vice Chancellors for Student Affairs or the Director or head of Student Affairs and College Secretary of each UP constituent / regional unit shall prepare the pre-numbered official ballots and official sheets to be used in the referendum. It shall also prepare the additional ballots equivalent to one percent (1%) of the total number of qualified voters in each precinct as replacement for marked / torn / defaced / perforated ballots.

B. The official ballot shall be signed or initialed at the back by the Vice Chancellor or head of Student Affairs or his designated representative of each constituent unit and two (2) representatives of the students to be determined by the Office of Student Regent. A pre-referendum conference shall be called for this purpose by the Office of Student Regent and Vice Chancellors for Student Affairs of each UP unit.

C. The University, through the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs or Director or head of Student Affairs and College Secretary, shall set up sufficient numbers of polling booths in each precinct and shall provide ballpens and white/ blackboards/computers.

D. The University, through the Vice Chancellors for Student Affairs or Director or head of Student Affairs and College Secretary, shall provide improvised ballot boxes to be used in the conduct of the referendum.

E. The Office of the College Secretary and/or Office of the University Secretary shall provide official master list of students enrolled in second semester 2008-2009.


A. All bona fide graduate and undergraduate students of the University of the Philippines duly enrolled and pursuing any of the academic degree/certificate/program offered by the University as of second semester 2008-2009 shall be eligible and qualified to vote in the referendum.

B. All UP students enrolled as of second semester 2008-2009 but cannot be physically present due to official business shall be allowed absentee votes.


A. The notice of referendum together with the list of qualified students allowed to vote, sample ballot, rules and guidelines shall be posted into conspicuous places within the premises of identified polling precincts of the University upon the resumption of classes before the conduct of referendum for the voters' information and guidance.

B. Before the start of referendum or casting of votes, the referendum officer assigned by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, in the presence of official watchers, shall inspect the polling place and polling booths. The ballot box shall be opened for inspection by the office before it will be sealed off. The key shall be in the custody of the referendum officer.

C. The list of voters submitted by the University and agreed upon by the representatives of the students in a pre-referendum conference shall be used as the basis of those who will be qualified and be allowed to vote in the referendum.

D. To facilitate identification of voters, each voter shall be required to present his or her UP ID with picture and shall affix his/ her signature opposite his/ her name in the master list before the referendum officer gives him or her official ballot. In the absence of an official ID, the voter may still be allowed to vote provided that he presents his /her Form 5 and any valid ID.

E. A qualified voter who has cross-enrolled in another UP unit shall be allowed to vote in the nearest polling place, provided he / she presents his Form 5 and valid UP ID. His / Her vote shall be segregated and considered challenged, subject to verification from the master list, and If found qualified and has not voted in his or her home college his / her vote will be opened and counted.

F. Qualified voters whose names were inadvertently omitted in the master list shall be allowed to vote provided that they show proof that they are UP students currently enrolled for second semester and are eligible / qualified voters as per Roman Numerical III of these rules and guidelines. Said vote shall be automatically considered votes and subject to verification unless otherwise agreed by concerned parties.

G. All segregated and challenged votes (letters E and F above) shall be placed in an individual white letter envelope and sealed in the presence of the voter and the watchers. The name of the voter, home college, ballot number and the ground / reason for the challenge / segregation shall be indicted in the letter envelope duly signed by the referendum officer and watchers. All challenged / segregated votes shall be opened and counted only if they will materially alter the result of the referendum.

H. The voters shall personally mark a cross (x) or a check (/) inside the square opposite his / her choice in answer to the question.

Do you approve of the existing Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS) as rules and qualifications to govern the selection of our student representative to the UP Board of Regents?

YES ____ NO ____

I. If a ballot is torn, marked or defaced, in such a manner as to create doubt or confusion on the identity of the voter, or the voter inadvertently spoils a ballot, he or she shall return the ballot to the referendum officer who shall destroy the same and replace it with another ballot. A voter is entitled for a replacement of ballot ONLY ONCE.

J. If there are still a number of voters who are already within 50 meters radius from the polling area before the closing of the referendum, the referendum officer shall allow them to cast their votes after the voting time shall have been terminated.


A. The Office of the Student Regent shall determine who shall act as the referendum watchers in each precinct. Each precinct shall have at least two (2) referendum watchers: one (1) regular and one (1) alternate.

B. The Office of the Student Regent shall copy furnish the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs the list of the respective official referendum watchers by precincts on or before January 19, 2009.

C. All referendum watchers are required to be at their respective polling precincts before 7:30 am. Otherwise, the referendum officer shall proceed with the referendum even in the absence of the watchers.

D. Only official watchers assigned in the precinct are allowed to raise relevant questions with regard to the conduct of the referendum. Watchers shall see to it that they have signed the minutes of the referendum proper and result after the tabulation / counting.


A. If the referendum officer is satisfied with the identity and qualification of the voter, said voter shall be given a ballot. The voter shall then be required to sign opposite his / her name in the official / master list prepared for this purpose.

B. Upon receipt of his / her folded ballot, the voter shall forthwith proceed to a vacant booth to mark the necessary box of his / her choice.

C. After filling up his / her ballot, the voter shall fold it in the same manner he or she received it and drop it in the ballot box.


A. Immediately after the close of the referendum, the votes cast shall be counted and tabulated by the referendum officer in their respective precinct in the presence of the watchers and student representatives.

B. Upon completion of the canvass, the referendum officer shall furnish each student representative a copy of the minutes of the referendum.

C. Referendum materials such as cast ballots, tally sheets, segregated / challenged votes and minutes of the referendum shall be sealed in an envelope duly signed by the students' representatives and be forwarded to the Office of Student Regent for consolidation. One copy of the minutes of the referendum reflecting the results of the referendum shall be pasted / taped outside the envelope, which shall be used in the consolidation of canvassed votes.

D. The Student Regent shall cal for a meeting for the opening of all canvassed and challenged / segregated votes for consolidation.


A. The referendum officer shall see to it that the voter marked a cross (x) or check (/) inside the square opposite his or her choice.

B. All ballots shall be presumed valid unless the same is considered spoiled or invalid. Accordingly, the following votes shall be considered spoiled or invalid;

1. No cross or check inside the square;

2. A cross a check, or other marking is placed outside the square;

3. Double or more markings inside and or outside the square (e.g. two (2) checks, two (2) crosses or a combination of cross (x) and a check (/), etc.);

4. The word "yes", and "no", "check", or "cross" inside the square;

5. Erasures or use of snopake; and

6. Any other markings inside the square.


A. All protests / objections relating to the conduct of the referendum should be formally written and submitted to the Office of the Student Regent within five (5) working days from the close of the referendum proceedings. All protests / objections shall be included in the minutes of the referendum No protest shall be entertained after the lapse of the five-day period. Neither shall a protest be entertained on the grounds not raised and recorded during the balloting / counting.

B. The results of the referendum shall be proclaimed by the Office of Student Regent five (5) working days after the final canvassing of votes, provided, however, that no formal protest which would affect the result of the referendum has been filed within the allowable period.


A. The University, through the Office of Student Regent, shall provide IDs for the referendum watchers.

B. The designated referendum officer shall immediately resolve any on-the-spot queries, complaints or any issues that may be raised by any interested party during the conduct of the referendum.

C. Other matters unless stipulated in the adopted referendum guidelines shall be conferred to the authority of the referendum committees of each UP unit.

***Please circulate among your yahoogroups and repost on the internet. You may also use the attached web campaign goodies for your social networking accounts and blogs. You and your organization can also come up with your own support campign goodies and can also ask for educational discussions regarding student and university issues from the OSR on the resumption of classes