Words by Hope Sagaya
University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Nominee Siegfred Severino has been selected as the 39th Student Regent (SR) by the 53rd General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) last August 28.
UP Manila and UP Baguio Nominee Querobin Acsibar and UP Cebu Nominee Bernie Cañedo Jr. are the second and third nominees, respectively. UP Diliman Nominee Franz Andrew Ronquillo was also among the four nominees for the 39th SR.
(RELATED STORY: A rundown of the visions and plans of the 39th SR nominees)
The SR is the sole representative of over 50,000 UP students to the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest decision-making body of UP.
The selection for the 39th SR was conducted during the 53rd GASC at UPLB, which was the first to be conducted in-person after two years of pandemic. GASC is an assembly where student councils from all over the UP System gather to discuss, debate, and resolve campus, systemwide, and nationwide issues.
Campaigns for a pro-student university
Severino’s general plan of action includes a campaign for a pro-students university, a continuous fight for Ligtas Na Balik Eskwela, and ensuring the security of UP campuses, especially under the Marcos-Duterte administration (READ: University Committee endorses Siegfred Severino’s nomination for 39th SR Selection).
Campaigning for a pro-student university, Severino promises to ensure students’ rights to quality and accessible education, democratic rights, and the safeguard of their general welfare. He added that he will continue to call for nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education system and policies.
Severino highlighted the educational crisis in the country, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sa mga kabataan at estudyante, patuloy ang privatization ng ating mga educational institution, pagtaas ng tuition at other school fees, at ang patuloy na pag-iimplementa ng K-to-12. Lahat itong mga isyu ay mas pinalala ng COVID-19 pandemic,” Severino said.
(For the youth and students, there is continuous privatization of our educational institutions, an increase in tuition and other school fees, and continued implementation of K-to-12. All of these issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Severino pushes for proper budget allocation toward essential projects and programs for the welfare of the students and other UP constituents. In an interview with the Perspective, Severino expressed that more budget must be allocated for basic student services such as financial aid, scholarships, and covering of health insurance (READ: UPLB students, staff call for higher provisions amid infrastructure drive in proposed additional budget).
In relation to the Ligtas Na Balik Eskwela campaign, Severino said that he will secure enough funding to ensure that facilities can handle minimum health protocols during face-to-face classes. He added that the SR will lobby for more comprehensive policies, more funding, logistical support, financial support, and subsidies.
To strengthen the UP Office of the Student Regent (OSR), Severino aims to build alliances with sectoral regents and reactivate the alliance with different state universities and colleges (SUCs) across the country.
“Strengthen alliances with the sectoral regents and other members of the BOR. Upang hindi tayo makulong sa unibersidad, patuloy tayong makipag-ugnayan sa iba’t ibang SUCs [state universities and colleges], para malaman ang mga kinakaharap ng ibang mag-aaral na mga biktima rin ng budget cuts,” Severino added.
(So that we will not be confined only within the university, let us keep in touch with different SUCs, to know what is being faced by other students who are also victims of budget cuts.)
Meanwhile, to strengthen campus security, Severino said that he will ensure that students will be safeguarded and protected by advancing the BOR Resolution Against Red-Tagging.
“Patuloy nating ilalaban ang pamantasan natin sa mga atake ng estado. Gagawin natin at sisiguraduhin natin na magiging safe haven ang UP na may respeto sa human rights. Patuloy din nating tututulan ang mga atake na ginagawa ng AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], [at ang] paggamit sa mga NSTP [National Service Training Program] classes upang harasin ang mga lider-estudyante,” he added.
(We will continue to fight for our university against state attacks. We will ensure that UP will be a safe haven that respects human rights. We will also continue to oppose the attacks carried out by the AFP [and the] use of NSTP classes to harass student-leaders.)
Severino said that he will strengthen the crisis management committee and the student protocol that aims to give legal assistance to students who experienced red-tagging and legitimate threats to their lives.
Security has been an issue in the university after the abrogation of the UP-DND Accord, which restricts state forces from entering UP campuses without prior permission from the campus administration.
There have also been incidents of red-tagging, such as in an NSTP webinar in UPLB last March 21 (READ: UPLB progressives condemn red-tagging in NSTP webinar; USC calls for ‘thorough review’ of lecture materials).
A heavy responsibility
In his message, Severino first thanked the student leaders for their dedication to attend the assembly, discussing resolutions that the councils will be implementing for the next year. He expressed that the selection process is long because choosing the SR is not about personal preference and decision.
“Mabigat na responsibilidad itong tinatanggap ko na binigay niyo sakin at paghuhusayan po natin na marepresenta, mabigyan ng boses, at masulong lahat ng kampanya, lahat ng demands, [at] lahat ng kaya nating abutin sa darating na taon na paninilbihan natin bilang ika-39 na rehente ng mga mag-aaral sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas,” Severino said.
(This is a heavy responsibility I’m accepting and we will do our best to represent, give a voice, and forward all the campaigns, demands, and all that we can achieve in the coming year that we will serve as the 39th Student Regent of the University of the Philippines.)
Severino also admitted that his term will be difficult under the current administration headed by the Marcos-Duterte tandem.
“Sa darating na taon ng ating termino, alam natin na magiging mahirap, mabigat, at madugo. Nakaupo ang isang Marcos sa Malacañang ngunit kagaya ng mga naunang lider-estudyante sa atin, kagaya nina Lean Alejandro, Rizalina Ilagan, at daan-daan pang estudyante na nag-alay ng kanilang panahon, talino, lakas, nag-alay ng kanilang buong-buhay para pagsilbihan ang bayan, ipaglaban ang ating mga karapatan,” he said.
(In the coming year of our term, we know it will be hard, heavy, and bloody. A Marcos has power in Malacañang but like the student leaders before us, like Lean Alejandro, Rizalina Ilagan, and hundreds of other students who gave their time, intelligence, energy, and lives to serve the people, fight for our rights.)
Severino expresses his belief in the assembly, saying that it will assume the responsibility of standing up against the threats of the Marcos administration.
“Naniniwala ako na ang kapulungang ito ay tatanganan din ang responsibilidad na iyon para tutulan, para tumindig laban sa administrasyon ni Marcos habang binibitbit ang kampanya natin para sa edukasyon, mga demokratikong karapatan, at paninigurado na hindi nabibitawan ng sektor ng mga kabataan at mga estudyante ang ating kapit sa mga batayang sektor na nagbubuhat sa ating bansa na dapat nating pinagsisilbihan,” Severino added.
(I believe that this assembly will also bear that responsibility to oppose, to stand up against the Marcos administration while carrying our campaign for education, and democratic rights, and ensuring that the sector of youth and students does not let go of our service to the basic sectors that raise our country, which we are supposed to serve.)
In his final message, Severino encouraged the body to continuously work to win their campaigns that will ensure a better future for the next generation.
“Taos-puso ko pong tinatanggap ang responsibilidad. Magkita-kita po tayo sa mga susunod na pagkilos, pagpupulong, at magkikita-kita po tayo, mapapaalis po natin ang isang diktador sa Malacañang,” he said.
(I wholeheartedly accept this responsibility. Let us see each other in the next mobilizations, assembly, and see each other to get a dictator out of Malacañang.) [P]