Note: This article is an archive from the Perspective’s fifth issue.
For the complete copy, visit the publication’s Issuu page.
As adjustments are made to academic learning, the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC), comprising student councils across the UP system, drafted two resolutions in an emergency assembly on July 8. This was to ensure the continuation of student representation in the university and their commitment in defending people’s rights amid pandemic.
In GASC Resolution 2020-017, they stated that they will partake in the “comprehensive national response” that the pandemic requires, ensuring that under the public health crisis, no human rights will be compromised.
“Therefore, be it resolved, as it [was] hereby resolved, that the General Assembly of Student Councils unites more than ever, declaring and pledging its commitment to defend people’s rights to health, livelihood and education as we continue to collectively battle the ongoing pandemic and tyrannical attacks,” the GASC wrote.
The GASC further stated they will continue to lobby the demands of the students.
“Despite logistical limitations, student councils are called to bring and lobby the general interests and needs of students in crisis-planning and resolution-building with academic institutions in demanding for an overall health-based response to the pandemic with respect to human rights,” the GASC further stated.
Student councils had lamented during the presentation of their units reports the difficulties encountered by the students in complying with their financial obligations and academic requirements during the pandemic.
The UP Mindanao University Student Council (UPMin USC) decried the financial burden being experienced by students as they have to purchase gadgets for online learning as well as continue paying for non-UP dormitories and housing.
In fact, according to UPMin USC, a big portion of the student population are considering taking a leave of absence.
“Madaming mga estudyante ang nagco-consider ng Leave of Absence due to unfavorable conditions. Malaking parte ng UP Mindanao nag-iisip mag-file ng LoA, given na maraming mga pamilya na nawalan ng kabuhayan dahil sa pandemya,” UPMin USC stated.
The GASC also stated in their resolution that they will call on the UP administration to protect its constituents and urge them to take legal action on student attacks.
“Be it resolved further, that the GASC shall continue to call on the UP administration to actively protect its UP-DND constituents by denouncing attacks directed to UP students and by upholding the [University of the Philippines-Department of National Defense] accord. Furthermore, the GASC shall continue to call on the UP system to take legal action including but not limited to filing charges against state forces violating the UP-DND accord and government institutions red-tagging UP students,” the GASC wrote.
One such incident was this June 6, when three students, four members of progressive groups and a bystander informally referred to as “Cebu 8” were arrested by police during a rally inside the UP Cebu campus, thereby supposing the police of violating the UP-DND accord, an agreement that prohibits state forces to enter UP campuses without the latter’s consent.
Meanwhile, according to the GASC Resolution 2020-016, the incumbent student regent John Isaac Punzalan shall serve in a holdover term until a successor has been chosen by the GASC.
“Therefore, be it resolved, as it [was] hereby resolved, that the General Assembly of Student Councils authorizes the incumbent Student Regent to remain in office in a holdover capacity within a limited time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, until a successor [was] selected, qualified, and has assumed office in accordance with the prescribed rules,” the GASC wrote in the resolution.
While officers of student councils across the UP system were allowed to remain in office in a holdover term in response to the postponement of student council elections, some student councils present in the emergency meeting expressed their concern that the BOR might not recognize the resolution.
“The resolution may not be enough to bind the BOR in allowing the said term extension,” the UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (UPD CSSPSC) stated.
Student Regent Punzalan, registered under the master’s program, was hopeful that the approval of his holdover term can also be done for the student regent.
“Tiningnan namin ang mga possibilities. Merong section sa RA 9500 na [ang term ng] student council leaders ay one year lang po; pero dahil granted na ang holdover ng ibang student councils ay baka ma-grant rin ang holdover sa SR,” Punzalan stated.
A clause in the resolution stated that student regents of other state universities have also been allowed to serve in a holdover capacity well “until the situation allows them to undergo their own selection process.”
Punzalan also emphasized the importance of continued student representation in the BOR, especially since the BOR will be discussing crucial decisions that will affect the welfare of students in the upcoming academic year.
“Isa sa mga crucial decisions this July, pag-uusapan na kung ano ang gagawin for [the upcoming] academic year at sa [then-]September ay pipili na ng chancy for LB, etc. So once again ang ganitong klaseng initative ay not for the sole purpose na maka-stay sa position, pero rather na kailangan ng representation ang student body,” Punzalan said. [P]
Photo by Cyril Chan