By Nacho Domingo and Frances Josephine Espeso
Dissent rose over two out of six resolutions adopted by the 43rd General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) of the University of the Philippines (UP) system held Jan. 6 to 7 at UP Visayas Tacloban College (VTC).
UP Diliman’s (UPD) Business Administration Council (BAC) and School of Economics Student Council (SESC) respectively abstained from voting and differed on the resolution on the fifth resolution promoting free education in UP and other state universities and colleges.
“My council cannot commit to this partnership with the other councils because we have yet to discuss it internally,” Rianne Geronimo, Business Administration representative to the UPD University Student Council (USC), said during the assembly.
In an interview after the assembly, Geronimo said the BAC discussed their own events and objectives during their semester planning, adding that the resolution on free education did not come up during their Council’s meeting.
Meanwhile, during the GASC, SESC emphasized their Council’s belief in an equitable education system.
“We believe in equity, that those who are able to pay should be made to pay,” said SESC representative Pat Morada. Besides this, the SESC offered no other explanation during the assembly.
The free education resolution, authored by UP Cebu and UP VTC clears students of the obligation to pay tuition and other school fees.
It was later adopted after 33 other UP constituent units voted in favor of the resolution.
These councils elected to support the resolution on the grounds of the belief that education is a right that should be free of any charge.
“Hindi ang interes ng mga estudyante ang nagiging priority ng administrasyon kung hindi ang interes ng mga political and economic elites na nagpapatakbo nito,” said UPD Architecture councilor Denver Fajanilan, who also represented the college’s student council during the GASC, in an interview after the assembly.
“Ilang mga guro, manananggol, at doktor ang hindi makakapagtapos dahil hindi nila kayang bayaran ang matrikula? Ilang tao ang masasayang ang pangarap kung hindi nila kayang makapag-aral?” he added.
On the other hand, the sixth and last resolution to affirm a comprehensive declaration of student rights presented by UP Manila College of Arts and Sciences student council (CASSC) also faced objections from UPD School of Statistics student council (Stat SC), stating that “collective action” is not the only way to protect the democratic rights of students.
The resolution, which guards the students’ right to organize, freedom to mobilize, also includes students’ rights to free, accessible quality education.
“Maliban sa collective action, pwede rin ma-attain ang victory through proper discourse,” said Patrick Wincy Reyes, chairperson of the Stat SC.
UPV USC representative Joshua Sagdullas countered this by saying collective action becomes the main means of attaining victory precisely when discourse fails.
“I believe that collective action and proper discourse are not mutually exclusive. Pwede naman sila mangyari simultaneously,” he added.
Eventually, the resolution was adopted by the body at a consensus.
In contrast, the first four resolutions about national historical revisionism, contractualization, peace talks between the government and insurgents and freeing political prisoners were approved without objection from any council.
View the summary of the approved GASC resolutions here: http://bit.ly/2iicPCN