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USC campaigns in focus

With new student leaders this A.Y. 2021-2022, the publication looks back on UPLB USC's campaigns last second semester, A.Y. 2020-2021.

Last January 11, student councils from all over the UP System convened in the 50th GASC, discussing a number of systemwide and national issues and adopting resolutions to address such problems (READ: 8 resols approved; councils, SR share term reports in 50th GASC)

Now, the publication looks back on the campaigns of the UPLB University Student Council (USC) and their efforts during the second semester of A.Y 2020-2021 in fulfilling these resolutions.

The resolutions adopted in the 50th GASC are categorized into three categories, namely (1) Education, (2) Accountability, and (3) Disaster Risk Reduction.

Education (A)1(A1) Resolution 2021-001, “A Resolution to Intensify the Campaign for the Safe Reopening of Schools and to Urge the UP Administration to Heed the Call of its Constituents for Gradual Resumption of Face-to-Face Classes”
2(A2) Resolution 2021-003, “A Resolution Urging the General Assembly of Student Councils to Demand Quality, Compassionate, and Relevant Education Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic”
3(A3) Resolution 2021-004, “A Resolution Urging the General Assembly of Student Councils to Demand for the Yearly Instatement and Proper Distribution of the Special Education Fund
Accountability (B)1(B1) Resolution 2021-002, “A Resolution to Launch a Systemwide Action to Defend the University and the Filipino People Against Red-Tagging, Intensified Militarization, and Fascism of the Duterte Administration”
2(B2) Resolution 2021-005, “A Resolution Calling for the Immediate Response to the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic and for Holding the Duterte Administration Accountable for its Criminal Negligence”
3(B3) Resolution 2021-006, “A Resolution to Ensure and Maintain Genuine and Democratic Student Representation in Student Councils Across the University of the Philippines Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Worsening Political Climate in the Country”
4(B4) Resolution 2021-008, “A Resolution to Amplify the Movement For The Junking Of The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020”
Disaster Risk Reduction (C)1(C1) Resolution 2021-007, “A Resolution for the General Assembly of Student Councils to Campaign for Pro-People Disaster Risk Reduction, Management, and Response Programs”
Others (D)Activities that do not fall to any of the earlier mentioned categories or override them all.
A complete table of the resolutions from the 50th GASC, divided into three categories.

Additionally, it is to be noted that there is a strong overlap between resolutions belonging to the same category (such as Resolution 2021-002 and Resolution 2021-008 which both belong to the Accountability category), meaning it is very likely that events with the former categorization are in some way also involved with the latter.

However, initiatives are categorized mainly by which resolution they are focused towards, due to the possibility of a single initiative touching on all/most of the resolutions.

Transparency

In their 42nd Transparency Report for the second semester A.Y. 2020-2021, the USC noted eight activities, one student legislative chamber, 15 statement and campaigns, 12 information campaigns, nine student consultations, five All Student Councils’ Assembly (ASCA) Meetings, four letters to the UPLB Administration, and two donation drives. 


‘Activities’ Categorizations

The eight activities conducted are categorized as follows:

  1. Three activities were geared towards addressing education concerns.

    The themes/campaigns reflected by the USC’s activities were 8.3% focused on gradual reopening of schools and 25% on compassionate education during the pandemic.

    These initiatives altogether comprise 33.3% of the activities in this category.
  • The Southern Tagalog Educational Caravan is considered an A1, A2, and B2 initiative, due to it forwarding both safe and quality education as well accountability for the failed pandemic response. [1]
  • The Tindig, Tulong, Tanghal: UPLB Rise for Safe, Democratic, Accessible and Quality Education benefit gig is considered an A2 and C1 initiative, due to its nature of being a student-centric financial assistance program during the pandemic. [1] [2]
    • The See You Zoom Raffle is a similar case to the benefit gig which aimed at raising money for students facing difficulties in the online set-up, making it an A2 and C1 initiative as well. [1] [2] [3] [4]

  1. Four activities were concentrated towards demanding accountability from the government.

    The themes/campaigns reflected by the USC’s activities were 8.3% focused on anti-fascism efforts, another 8.3% on COVID-19 negligence, and another 8.3% on student representation in the current political climate.

    These initiatives altogether comprise 24.9% of the activities in this category.
  • The formation of the USC Volunteer Corps is considered as a B3 and C1 initiative, due to the organization’s flexible nature and overall purpose as volunteers in various USC initiatives. [1] 
  • The Southern Tagalog Educational Caravan is considered an A1, A2, and B2 initiative, due to it forwarding both safe and quality education as well accountability for the failed pandemic response. [1]
  • The Online SU Online (on the Institutionalization of the UP-DND Accord) is considered a B1 initiative. [1]
  • The Labor Discussion on Contractualization and Cheap Labor is a B1 initiative. [1] [2]

  1. Four activities were mostly disaster risk management initiatives.

    These initiatives altogether comprise 33.3% of the activities in this category.
  • The formation of the USC Volunteer Corps is considered as a B3 and C1 initiative, due to the organization’s flexible nature and overall purpose as volunteers in various USC initiatives. [1] 
  • The Tindig, Tulong, Tanghal: UPLB Rise for Safe, Democratic, Accessible and Quality Education benefit gig is considered an A2 and C1 initiative, due to its nature of being a student-centric financial assistance program during the pandemic. [1] [2]
  • The UPLB Agapay Official Launching and Benefit Concert is considered a C1 initiative, due to it being a similar case to the benefit gig but being aimed more towards general disaster relief. [1]
  • The See You Zoom Raffle is a similar case to the benefit gig which aimed at raising money for students facing difficulties in the online set-up, making it an A2 and C1 initiative as well. [1] [2] [3] [4]

  1. One activity is considered a D initiative. This initiative comprises 8.3% of all activities under this category.
  • The oath-taking ceremony that is required of the council every term is classified under D; this overrides the activity’s theme of student representation under B3. [1]

(RELATED STORIES: Sudden police presence alarms LB residents, Lone party alliance wins elections, Youth partylist stands tall vs. disqualification case)


‘Statements and campaigns’ categorizations

The 15 statements and campaigns cover a wide array of issues, both within and outside of the university. The categorization of each one are as follows: 

  1. Three statements and campaigns were geared towards addressing education concerns.

    The themes/campaigns reflected by the USC’s activities were 12% focused on gradual reopening of schools and another 12% on compassionate education during the pandemic.

    These initiatives altogether comprise 24% of the statements and campaigns.
  • The statement for Academic Ease is considered an A1 and A2 initiative. 
  • The statement on the response of the OVPAA on the 5-point call for System-wide Academic Ease of the OSR is considered an A1 and A2 initiative. [1]
  • The statement on the “Sem Ender Campaign” is considered an A1, A2, and B2 initiative. [1]

  1. 13 statements and campaigns were concentrated towards demanding accountability from the government.

    The themes/campaigns reflected by the USC’s activities were 40% focused on anti-fascism efforts, 12% on COVID-19 negligence, 16% on student representation in the current political climate, and 4% on combating the Anti-Terror Law.

    These initiatives altogether comprise 72% of the statements and campaigns. 
  • The statement on the UPLB Admin’s Commitment to endorse a resolution to make UPLB a safe haven of free and critical thinking is considered a B1 and B3 initiative.
  • The statement on the reimposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in NCR+ is considered a B2 initiative. [1]
  • The statement on the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) is considered a B2 initiative. [1]
  • The statement on the harassment and red tagging of UPLB student leaders on Facebook is considered a B1 initiative.
  • The statement on Community Pantries is considered a B1 and C1 initiative. [1]
  • The statement on the 118th Labor Day is considered a B1 initiative.
  • The alert statement on PNP Los Baños halting the van of UPLB delegates from the Mayo Uno mobilization is considered a B1 and B3 initiative. [1]
  • The condemnation statement on the “terrorist” designation list released by the Anti-Terrorism Council is considered a B1 and B4 initiative. [1]
  • The statement of support for the reinstatement and institutionalization of the UP-DND Accord in Congress is considered a B1 and B3 initiative. [1]
  • The alert statement demanding the surfacing of Kemuel Ian “KI” Cometa is considered a B1 initiative. [1]
  • The statement on the “Sem Ender Campaign” is considered an A1, A2, and B2 initiative. [1]
  • The statement on the institutionalization of the UP-DND Accord is considered a B1 and B3 initiative.
  • The statement on the Fake Independence Day is considered a B1 initiative.

  1. One statement was focused towards disaster risk management initiatives.

    This activity comprises 4% of the total 15 statements and campaigns.
  • The statement on Community Pantries is considered a B1 and C1 initiative. [1]

(RELATED STORIES: UPLB alum ‘abducted’ in AFP-PNP raid, still missing, LB barangay chair accuses family of ‘profiting’ from community pantry, Progressives reflect on Terror Law 1 year since passage)


‘Information campaigns’ categorizations

The 12 information campaigns are as follows:

  1. Two information campaigns were geared towards addressing education concerns.

    The themes/campaigns reflected by the USC’s activities were 7.7% focused on gradual reopening of schools, and another 7.7% on compassionate education during the pandemic.

    These initiatives altogether comprise 15.4% of the information campaigns.
  • Invitation video to Tanghalang Timog Katagalugan: Gabi ng Sining para sa Edukasyon, Kalusugan, at Kabuhayan which is considered an A2 initiative.
  • Infographics about the Developer Strike in UP Diliman, SAGAD Awarding Issues, and Vaccination of UP Employees which is considered an A1 initiative. [1]

  1. Six information campaigns were concentrated towards demanding accountability from the government.

    The themes/campaigns reflected by the USC’s activities were 23.1% focused on anti-fascism efforts, 7.7% on COVID-19 negligence, and 23.1% on student representation in the current political climate.

    These initiatives altogether comprise 53.9% of the information campaigns.
  • On the University Committee approving the Resolution to make UPLB a Safe Haven which is considered a B1 initiative. [1]
  • Digest of the Courtesy Call of the UP Student Regent and the UPLB USC with the UPLB Administration which is considered a B3 initiative. [1]
  • USC Memorandum SRS 2021-01 to convene the Student Legislative Chamber for the 2nd Semester A.Y 2020-2021 which is considered a B3 initiative.
  • Infographics about the Criminalization of Unions, Government Crackdowns on Unions, Loss Wages Due to Frequent Lockdowns, and Contractualization which is considered a B1 and B2 initiative.
  • Proposed Resolutions for the Convention of the Student Legislative Chamber which is considered a B3 initiative.
  • Invitation video to Youth UNBOUND ST’s “Kilos Kabataan, Para sa Kalayaan!” which is considered a B1 initiative.

  1. Four information campaigns are considered as D initiatives (others). These activities altogether comprise 30.8% of the total 12 information campaigns.
  • Pub release formally introducing the 42nd UPLB University Student Council which is considered a D initiative.
  • Teaser Pub for ST Pride which is considered a D initiative.
  • Infographics featuring the UP Academic Employees Union – Los Baños which is considered a D initiative. [S]
  • Release of New USC Email for Sponsorships which is considered a D initiative. [S]

(RELATED STORIES: UPLB REPS demand better pay, health benefits amid pandemic woes, Dare To Defy: Understanding the timeless relevance of trade unionism)


‘Student legislative chamber resolutions’ categorizations

Additionally, the sole student legislative chamber (SLC) successfully authored two resolutions, those being: [1]

  • SLC Resolution No. 2021-001, “A Resolution Calling for a Unified Campaign to Call for a Genuine Academic Ease and Safe Campus-wide Reopening of the University, and;
  • SLC Resolution No. 2021-005, “A Resolution Urging All UPLB Student Councils to Condemn the Attacks on the Democratic Rights and Intensify the Campaign to Defend Southern Tagalog”.

The former is categorized as an A1 and A2 initiative, while the latter is considered a B1 and B4 initiative (READ: UPLB student councils convene online for 4th SLC, mobilize to uphold democratic rights).

There were 2 donation drives, the first aiming to support the community pantries in Los Baños [1] and the other to assist in the medical treatments of Ka Eddie Billones.

He was a spokesperson of the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) who passed away later due to gastrointestinal bleeding. The former is considered a C1 initiative while the latter, due to Ka Eddie Billones’ progressive background and immediate medical issues pertaining to COVID-19 (READ: Peasant leader Eddie Billiones dies at 60 due to health complications).

The three remaining activity categorizations (student consultations, letters to the UPLB Administration, and ASCA) are all considered as A2 initiatives. There were nine student consultations, five of which are classified as normal “UPLB Council of Student Leaders.”

The other four include grievance forms regarding student demands and academic concerns, an emergency council on the conduct of the first semester of A.Y. 2021-2022, the UPLB Student Summit 2021, and a student assessment on the conduct of the 2nd semester on remote learning. While the contents of these student consultations cover a wide range of topics, they are all primarily focused on the academic concerns of the students of the university. 

There were four letters to the UPLB Administration, all addressed to Chancellor Camacho and all in some form or another pertaining to compassionate education, be it in either in the requesting of the suspension of classes and academic requirements, an extension of deadlines, removal of stringent deadline policies or recommending INC instead of DRP. 

(RELATED STORIES: LOA, dropped cases up between 2 sems of 1st online acad year, Students petition for academic ease after a month of remote learning)

There were five ASCA sessions. However, due to the nature of ASCA’s acting only consulting bodies to unify campaigns for SLCs, no resolutions are passed during these meetings and they are therefore ignored for the purposes of this report.

When consulted regarding Resolution 2021-004, current USC Chairperson Siegfred Severino noted that the USC opted to support this resolution by calling for the returning of missing funds due to budget cuts to the education sector. Additionally, they also called support for the demand against budget cuts on the education sector to make the effort more all-encompassing.

Words from past chairs

Former USC head Merwin Jacob Alinea, who served in A.Y. 2016-2017, said he believed that the USC, together with other student-led progressive organizations, “have done their best” in accomplishing these resolutions and forwarding their campaigns.

He noted that the current USC roster helped in forwarding various campaigns in the campus, alongside Youth Advocates for Peace with Justice (YAPJUST) for the UPLB Safe Haven campaign and Serve the People Brigade (STPB-UPLB) for disaster risk reduction and management initiatives.

“They are also active in Youth UNBOUND, a region-wide alliance that campaigns for holding our current administration accountable and [the] ouster of our fascist President [Rodrigo Duterte]. And also, palagi silang may consultations sa student body to update the concerns and push forward our campaign for ligtas na balik eskwela. So, personally, I think yes they’ve put their best efforts to fulfill their resolutions,” said Alinea.

However, he noted that the campaigns could be further amplified if more on-ground activities and campaigns could be held. This was to encourage the youth to participate and immerse themselves with the communities, provided that basic health protocols were observed.

Alinea said, “Malaki ang pangangailangan ng mga lokal na komunidad natin at panigurado marami rin tayong matutunan dito bilang mga kabataan. [Local communities need all the help that they can get, and surely we will learn a lot from them as members of the youth],” Alinea encouraged. 

Regardless, Alinea still praised the overall performance of the current USC, noting that the already difficult responsibilities are only made harder by the pandemic.

Fellow former USC Chair Jainno Bonggon, previously serving in A.Y. 2020-2021, also praised the current USC. He noted their active involvement in the administrative meetings of the university.

Sa mga scholarship and financial assistance, yung COVID mitigation team, yung mga search ng mga bagong dekano, and most importantly yung recent na binuo ng University Council na Committee on National Issues kung saan tinatalakay yung binuong resolution between the UPLB administration and the UPLB constituents, na kung saan yung UPLB administration ay dapat imaintain yung campus natin as a safe haven for critical thinking and to oppose all forms of attack. This includes red-tagging at yung mga effects ng Anti-Terrorism Act sa university constituents,” said Bonggon.

[The various scholarship and financial assistance programs, the COVID mitigation team, the search for the new College Deans, and most importantly the recently formed University Council Committee on National Issues where they discuss the newly formed resolution between the UPLB administration and the UPLB constituents, which states that the UPLB administration has a responsibility to maintain the campus as a safe haven for critical thinking and to oppose all forms of attack. This includes red-tagging and the effects of the anti-terrorism act on the university constituents.]

(RELATED STORIES: UPLB student alliance demands safety from admin as red-tagging continues, State propaganda page appropriates images and quotes of 7 UP alums for red-tagging campaign).

Bonggon added that the performance of the USC should not be judged upon their fulfillment of the resolutions of the GASC but rather their mandate to serve their main constituents: the students.

“At this point gusto ko nalang sila [i-]encourage na ipagpatuloy yung paguuphold sa mga kaisahan ng mga student councils. Not because nabagsakan siya sa GASC but because they have a mandate and a responsibility to protect the rights and welfare of the students,” Bonggon continued.

[At this point I want to encourage them to continue to uphold the independence of the student councils. Not because this is what the GASC demands of them but because they have a mandate and a responsibility to protect the rights and welfare of the students.]

However, Bonggon believed that the USC has done their best to uphold the said mandate, and cited examples of their successes in doing so.

“Ever since naman pumasok sila sa term nila, nakita ko rin kung paano nila cinontinue and strengthen yung mga campaigns na relevant sa palalaga ng karapatan at kapakanan ng mga estudyante at ng ibang sector sa loob ng pamantasan. For example, yung call for ligtas balik eskwela, up to this day malakas yung clamor sa kanya dahil sa malakas na alliance building ng student councils natin. Isang victory narin dyan yung naaprubahan yung sa VetMed yung gradual na pagbabalik sa klase at pagpatuloy ng alliances like Rise for Education at UPLB Kilos Na,” Bonggon said.

[Ever since their term began I saw how they planned on continuing and strengthening the campaigns relevant to taking care of the rights and welfare of the students and other sectors within the region. For example, the call for the safe reopening of classes, up to this day the clamor is still strong for the campaign due to the effective alliance building of our student councils, other victories worth mentioning are the recently approved reentry to classes for the VetMed courses and the continuing of alliances such as Rise for Education and UPLB Kilos Na.] [P]

Photos by Pola Rubio, DY Sanchez, and Sonya Castillo

Layout by Justine Fuentes

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