Archive for February, 2011

We urge CHED to intervene in TOFI proposals


The consultation period for Tuition and Other Fee proposals in all tertiary schools nationwide has just ended. February 28 was the last schedule set by the Commission on Higher Education for school administrators in the tertiary level to conduct consultations with their students regarding proposals to increase school fees.

As this schedule lapses, we remain vigilant in our campaign against Tuition and other fee increases (TOFI). The end of consultation period does not mean that the students’ call to stop all tuition hikes ends as well. After mobilizing the students to actively participate and air their grievances in their respective TOFI consultations, we are now on the move to urge the Commission on Higher Education to intervene in the proposals filed by tertiary school nationwide. Instead of merely observing the process of consultations and ultimately approve TOFI proposals, we challenge the CHED to regulate the tuition hikes by independently studying the justifications for the proposal.

The CHED should not merely rely on the consultations being conducted by school administrators in their respective constituents because usually, these consultations do not follow the proper procedures. For instance, the student body is not appropriately informed regarding the consultations. Announcements of the date and venue of the consultation are not posted 15 days prior to the schedule, as mandated by the CHED. During the consultation period, some Administrations maintain a closed-curtain session, disabling ordinary students to attend, even peek into the ongoing consultation. Thus, only members from the student council, and sometimes, the school publication, are able to sit in the consultation and represent the students. this case happened in the TOFI consultation in Baguio Central University last February 21.

As these tactics are inevitably employed by the Administrator to facilitate the approval of the TOFI proposals, the CHED must make use of its power in deciding upon the proposals. As indicated in Section 42 of the Education Act of 1992, AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM OF EDUCATION:

Each private school shall determine its rate of tuition and other school fees or charges. The rates and charges adopted by schools pursuant to this provision shall be collectible, and their application or use authorized, subject to rules and regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.

Clearly stated here is the power that CHED possesses in authorizing and subjecting under their rules and standards all TOFI proposals by school administrators. It is in this light that we are firmly calling on the CHED to have a direct hand in these proposals. They must ensure that every centavo of tuition increase is well-justified. In relation to this, the CHED must see to it that the additional revenue resulting from the tuition increase must go to where it is rightly due. According to CHED Memo 13, for non-stock and non-profit educational institutions, 70% of the additional funds shall add to the salary of its employees and 30% shall go to infrastructure development. On the other hand, for stock and profit-oriented institutions, the same percentage shall go to the employees’ salaries, 20% goes to infrastructures and 10% counts as profit for the institution.

In the last analysis, all TOFI proposals should undergo the appropriate process of consultations; that is, with the active participation of students who are the ones to be primarily affected by the increases. Subsequently, if these proposals are approved, we expect the school administrators to reflect the increases in the quality of service the school gives to its students and the just compensation for its employees.

Ultimately, we remain stern in our stand that these tuition fee increases, whatever their rates are, remain essentially unjustified. These increases only make education more unreachable to the Filipino people whose majority of population can hardly afford a day’s meal. Up to this point, our call is unchanged:

Stop all Tuition and Other Fees Increases!

No to privatization of Education and other social services!

Rechannel Military Budget to Education Budget!

 

COLLEGE EDITOR’S GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES BAGUIO-BENGUET



Mere Diversions: The commemoration of People Power as a reminder that there are more important things for us to concern ourselves with as a nation



On February 25, the 25th anniversary of People Power I, the well-known revolt that ousted an infamous national leader and sent to international headlines the Filipino nation, will be marked.

Aside from the glory that that popular people’s uprising supposedly brought to its nation, the more glaring attention was put on the successor of the gravely tested president/dictator – Corazon Aquino, the widow of considered martyr Benigno Aquino Jr. who was assassinated three years earlier. Tall tales were told about how the widowed Aquino has suddenly rose from plain house wife to the savior of a nation under the crisis of a dictatorship. These tales contributed in the association of Corazon Aquino with the idea of democracy – an idea diametrically opposed with the principles of her infamous predecessor, fascism and tyranny.

From thereon, that mark in Philippine history has been recognized as an important part of our history. In the succeeding years, it has been commemorated, relished and consistently imprinted on the consciousness of the new generation. The objective is clear: to propagate, even perpetuate the idea of People Power and Cory Aquino as the complete restoration of democracy in a country that has been plagued by a dark 25-year period of dictatorship.

Today, 25 years after that “historic” event, it seems very timely to yet again, reinterpret this event which is now being celebrated under the administration of another Aquino – the son of Corazon Aquino, the “heroine” of the first People Power.

Last week, President Benigno Aquino III has declared February 25 to be a special holiday. All classed in all levels will be cancelled, supposedly to give way for the commemoration of the “historic event” which pedestaled her mother into national consciousness; and which 23 years later after her death, will compel her son to run for presidency and eventually, be elected as the 15th president of the country.

The connections are slowly being completed: Cory and how People Power gave her the status she possesses now, even after her death; Noynoy and how his electoral stint has benefited from the status of his mother after its death last 2009.; today, Noynoy and the 25th year mark of People Power and how he is using this event to further bolster his positive image to the Filipino people.

Undeniably, he is taking advantage of the situation. No classes on the 25th, and whatever will be his gimmick on that day, he only wants one thing – to project himself to all of the Filipinos who will most probably participate in that commemoration in one way or another (they will watch the coverage, read the online news etc., see the event on the flesh) as the son who shares the “noble” traits of her mother who, 25 years ago, again, saved the country from an unpopular tyrant.

Here are other telling hints: especially for this event, Noynoy created what he calls the “EDSA People Power Commission” which is headed by his Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. On the 25th, there will be a grand musical variety show which will feature celebrities from the three major TV networks. As Ochoa has said, this is in line with the aim of the celebration to emphasize unity as its main theme.

At surface value, the idea seems grand and indeed, wonderful. Our favorite entertainers will put out an expectedly grand show. More so, what they will do is something unusual – the “unification” of artists from the three TV networks in putting up that grand show.

However, at a closer look, this show, being the biggest highlight of the 25th year commemoration of Edsa 1, only suggests the odious trait of Noynoy Aquino’s administration. This is an Administration that thrives on and taps positive PRs, highlighting its showbiz, popular connections instead of showing the people the real issues that it faces and must confront. We have been exposed to this characteristic of the current Administration many times already. For several times, we have heard about the President’s romantic links, his “famous” sister’s personal dilemmas and even his manner of spending the holidays. News like these about the President  always overshadow more “serious” news about his administration and how it is doing its responsibilities to and how it faces the issues hounding the country. How many of us are aware of the age-old issue of land dispute in Hacienda Luisita, or Noynoy’s questionable pursuit of Public-Private Partnership that only threatens to privatize most of the basic service which the government must be providing to its citizens? Not many people are well-informed about these issues as they are well-updated about the President’s relationship status.

What do these information tells us? Our beloved President is being constructed, being carefully crafted by the media in a very favorable image that can skillfully escape all possible criticisms from its constituents. By focusing on petty issues concerning his personal lives, the people’s attention is being diverted away from the more relevant issues which they should be thinking about their President. Building the hype in petty issues and events like 25th anniversary of  People Power and eating hotdogs in a street stall in New York is a good tactic in making the public forgetful and even more ignorant in the startling rate of poverty, unemployment, child labor, and many other signs of economic instability in the country. And if we come to think of it, the love life status of the President does not really seem to have a direct connection with his performance as the country’s top official.

And on Friday, February 25, as everyone takes a break from school or their respective works and witness the grand commemoration of a popular uprising which, by farfetched yet clearly logical connection, is partly responsible in the election into office of our current President, we will again be lulled into the positive idea that our President is a champion of democracy just like his parents and that he will truly save us and our country from its current state of crisis.

Ultimately, we just need to be more cautious, more discriminating and critical in framing our understanding of the present Administration. We must look beyond what the popular media is feeding us, how they are constructing the president’s image within the fabric of popular discourses, just like the discourse of People Power and gaudy Pinoy showbiz.  Remember: we are talking about a president here, not just a cheap celebrity. Presidents are supposed to be leading the country in facing its socio-economic and political issues, not answering media interviews about his lovelife or his relationship with his controversial youngest sister.

 

 

 

 

Higher State Subsidy, not TOFI: solution to education crisis


 

The month of February is the peak season of Tuition and Other Fee Increases (TOFI) proposals and consultation among all tertiary schools in the country. As another academic year approaches its end, the school administrators are busy again in mulling over the opportunity to increase tuition and other miscellaneous fees in school for the next school year.

During the first quarter of the year, it is expected that school administrators will come out with TOFI proposals which they plan to implement in the next school year. More importantly, it is an imperative that the school administrators also conduct consultations among the students regarding their TOFI proposals. Since they comprise the largest bulk of the school’s population, the students should be well-informed and must be allowed to react freely regarding the proposals to increase school fees. Moreover, they are the ones who will primarily be affected by the proposals. This makes the need for them to have access of this information and to voice out their opinions regarding such information more pointed.

For their part, the students must be actively participative of such consultations. This will make it even more urgent for the school administrators to conduct consultations and justify the TOFI proposals which they have prepared.

The College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, as an organization that is composed of and serves the interest of students, is calling for an absolute No Tuition and Other Fee Increase for the next academic year. In line with this, it calls for the hastening of the passing of the Tuition Moratorium Bill which will prevent all tertiary school from increasing their tuition and other miscellaneous fees for a minimum period of five years. Also tagged as “Tuition Freezing,” the Tuition Moratorium Bill will ensure that tertiary schools will not primarily rely on fees collected from students in bolstering the funds the schools need for operation. Instead, these schools shall demand from the state to provide them with the just amount of subsidy. This will enable them to continue operating without sacrificing the quality of education which they can offer their students.

In relation to this, we are also calling on the state to rechannel the funds allocated for the military to the budget for education. If they are justifying the TOFIs by saying that school employees also need a raise in their incomes to ensure their efficiency in giving education, we are forwarding that this raise in salary should come from government funds and not from student fees. We are standing still in the unheeded call we have made in the past: that the 2011 approved budget is backward and anti-people because it misprioritizes the funds that can be used for the development of the citizens. Instead of giving premium to the basic social services like education, health and housing, the 2011 budget approved by President Benigno Aquino allots a larger bulk to debt and military expenses. However, we are also firm in our stand that the approval of this budget does not mean that its glitches can no longer be corrected and addressed. Rechanneling the military funds to the budget for education can be of big help in patching up, even slightly, the loopholes of this year’s budget.

In that case, the administrators of tertiary schools all over the country will have lesser motivation in increasing the tuition and other fees that will only burden the students. School administrators should be pressuring the state by demanding greater subsidy frrm there – which is in essence, its responsibility to public institutions, and not torment the students and parents by imposing TOFIs. By carefully analyzing the top priorities in terms of national spending, we will find out that TOFIs are no longer necessary as long as the budget the education sector receives yearly is commensurate to its needs.   Sadly, by looking closely at the 2011 approved budget, we can say that this is not true. Obviously, our government sees greater importance in bullets and firearms than in books and school classrooms. In this season of TOFI proposals, our school administrators should rethink the necessary steps they must take if their goal is to provide quality and affordable education to the Filipinos. Demanding for higher state subsidy and not TOFIs will save the state of education in the country.

 

No to Tuition and Other Fees Increase!

Rechannel Military Funds to Budget for Education!

Pass Tuition Moratorium Bill now!

 

College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet

 

 

 

Statement regarding Budget Cut


The College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Cordillera is opposing the impending budget cut that might be experienced by State Universities and Colleges shall the budget proposal for 2011 be approved.

We are outraged by the phenomenal budget cuts in the education sector. No words can express our disappointment and disbelief upon learning of this latest injustice and violation of a basic human right – from no less than an administration that vowed to place education and the youth in its highest priority.
The figures behind this notorious budget cut would best depict the travesty. The allocation for SUCs in the proposed 2011 national budget has been reduced by 1.7 percent, from P23.8 billion in 2010 to only P23.4 billion this year. The proposed budget for 25 out of 112 SUCs has also been decreased by as much as 23.5%.
Moreover, there is a P1.1 billion (28.16 percent) decrease in the operations budget for SUCs. All but 15 SUCs have cuts in their operating budgets (MOOE) some by as much as 50%. These, by far, are the biggest education budget cuts in history. The fund for MOOE is essential to the operation of SUCs since it is from this fund where the fees for basic needs such as electric and water services are taken.
Specifically, in the province of Benguet there only exists two state universities catering to thousands of students cramming for a quality and affordable education.
Moreover, the funds of UP Baguio as part of the University of the Philippines System has been slashed by P1.39 billion or by 20.11% while the MOOE for Benguet State University has been slashed by 20.95%.
Aside from largely affecting the MOOE of SUCs, the Aquino administration has also adopted the previous regime’s zero allotment for capital outlay for State Universities and Colleges. In the proposed P23.4 Billion for 2011, no funds have been earmarked for the procurement of new equipment, nor for the repairs, construction and improvement of facilities.
A likely result is that SUCs would be left to fend for themselves at the expense of students and their parents. The P1.1 billion operations budget cut in SUCs will only lead to higher and more rampant tuition and other fee increases and the further commercialization of education. This is yet another pattern from the previous regime that the Aquino administration now chooses to uphold and continue.
Now, we recognize that at least P200 billion is needed in additional funds to create the 152 thousands classrooms, P95.5 Million textbooks and P103.5 thousands teachers we lack. The proposed P207 billion budget for basic education could only accommodate the construction of 18,000 new classrooms, procurement of 32 thousands textbooks and hiring of 10 thousand new teachers.
We also believe that the education budget cuts infringes on the right to education and the constitutional mandate of the government to make education accessible to all. It is tantamount to the government’s abandonment of its responsibility to guarantee every Filipino’s right to education.
Now, we call on every youth, student, parent and advocates of quality and accessible education to unite and wage appropriate actions nationwide to oppose the P1.1 billion education budget cut and call for greater state subsidy for education.
We also urge members of Congress to oppose the education budget cut and re-channel funds intended for debt-servicing, the military and corruption-prone patronage programs to the education sector.
Ultimately, while opposing the budget cut, the CEGP Baguio Benguet joins the students in challenging the Aquino administration to correct this travesty and reverse the long-standing policy of reducing state spending on education and continue upholding education as a right for all the Filipino people.

A Year After: A call for justice and prosecution of the masterminds behind the Maguindanao massacre


we keep on counting days.

Our people truly have this incurable tendency to forget.

The horrendous massacre that killed 57 people, 32 of them journalists, last year in Mindanao is nearing its first year mark. Nearly a year after its occurrence, justice for the victims remain out of hand. This scenario is already verging on being an utter farce as the evidences that can help in resolving the case have already been substantial. For one, an Ampatuan residence has been discovered to be a massive storage of high-class ammunitions and other weapons. This discovery is already very telling. What should be the viable reason for the existence of such number of complex weapons in the house of a person? The invisible link is drawn by the implication that the Ampatuans’ “fetish” over complicated weapons answers why he is the primary suspect in the case. To put it more bluntly, it confirms the possibility that he is the mastermind behind the heinous perpetration.
Lest we have forgotten as well, Ishmael Mangudadatu, the biggest personality in that group of people involved in the brutal carnage last year, was about to file his certificate of candidacy for the 2010 elections when the massacre occured.  After a long time, someone has dared to challenge the rule of the Ampatuans in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao. However, Mangudadatu, along with his entourage that includes a handful of media practitioners, has fall prey to the voracious predator that is electoral violence and the thirst for power.
As this incident emphasizes the condition of mainstream journalism in the country, a condition marked by repression and stifled expression, we are again reminded that their plight is not isolated from the plight of campus journalists in the country. Campus press freedom violations are still marked inside Cordillera campuses. Funds are being withheld, articles are being censored, students’ opinions and views are being filtered, and progressive student journalists are being terrorized or harassed. All of these actions by the school administration are not different from what the government is doing to the mainstream journalists. These are all in line with their intention to keep the media men from exposing the things that are actually happening in the society and which the people must know about. With the people not informed or misinformed, they will also be kept from knowing what their government is doing and what is actually happening in the country.
As we recall the nightmare of journalistic practice in the Philippines that is the Maguindanao massacre, the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines is reiterating its condemnation of the notorious incident. More importantly, we are even firmer in calling for the justice for all of the slain individuals and their bereft loved ones.
We are challenging and calling on the present administration of Benigno Aquino III to make the Ampatuans pay for the violent crime they have committed not only against the 57 people mercilessly murdered but also to the entire Filipino people. The seeds of violence they have sown only prove that those who are in power can thoughtlessly resort to violent means just to sustain their hold of power.
And lastly, unless social justice is founded, this culture of impunity and terror will continue.
College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet Chapter

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