By Earl O. Condeza
DAVAO CITY – Students from the Tacloban campus of the University of the Philippines complained of receiving verbal abuse from the UP president after some of them barged into a top-level meeting of campus chancellors to distribute copies of their petition.
Student representatives from UP Tacloban campus raised this complaint during the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) in the UP system held at the UP Mindanao campus on the last week of January this year.
In a live tweet by Himati, the official publication of UP Mindanao, the student representatives of UP Tacloban alleged that UP President Alfredo Pascual told them something that they considered “under the belt”.
“Baka gusto ninyong magpatingin sa guidance counselor, kasi hindi na normal yang mga ginagawa niyo (Maybe you need to consult a guidance counselor, because what you’re doing is not normal),” the students said in the footage that Himati posted in its account in the social networking site, Facebook.
According to UP Tacloban Student Council councilor Roy Olis, it was during the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) meeting in Diliman that Pascual allegedly told them that statement. The PAC meeting was held on January 20 and was attended by chancellors from the different UP campuses and the vice presidents of the academic units of UP.
“We attempted several times asking permission to allow us to present our petitions to the body,” Olis said.
But Olis said they were not allowed to enter in the said meeting. Two students managed to get in however, and distributed three copies of the petition.
“Tatlo lang ang nabigyan ng folders dahil ang iba sa kanila sa back entrance dumaan, tila ba iniiwasan kami (Only three of them received a folder of the petitions because others exited through the back door, like they’re trying to ignore us),” Olis said in a text message to Davao Today.
According to Olis, their petition was 40 pages of requests to the administration, which include, the socialized tuition financial assistance program (STFAP) re-bracketing, immediate rehabilitation of classrooms, dormitories and other facilities, financial assistance and tuition refund to those who paid tuition before the disaster in Tacloban. They also included requests concerning the plight of the teaching and non-teaching staff of UP Tacloban.
They were allowed to enter the meeting only in the afternoon but they were allegedly told “to consult a guidance counselor because of what they’re doing is not normal”.
“In a subtle way, he (President Pascual) is like telling us (students) that we have mental problems,” Olis added
Olis told Davao Today that he and other student attest that they don’t have mental problems.
After the super typhoon Yolanda that ravaged Leyte, students from UP Tacloban were accepted to cross-enroll in the other UP campuses but they said “not all were catered to.”
UP Tacloban University Student Council (USC) Chairperson, Francisco Banguis Jr. said that “students who cross-enrolled are re-bracketed to the lowest possible bracket (Bracket E) wherein they would not pay tuition”
“Nakakadismaya lang po na ang mga nagpaiwan at patuloy na naniwala na magiging okay ang lahat ay siyang nahihirapan (It is just dismaying that those who stayed (in Tacloban) and believes that they everything will be just fine are those who suffer),” Banguis added
Banguis and the students who stayed in Tacloban appealed to be re-bracketed and he said that they were told that “they need to prove that they were really devastated by the typhoon,” and “re-bracketing depends on how student is being devastated”
“Why do we need to prove how we’re devastated? We lived in Tacloban, obviously we are affected by the disaster brought by typhoon Yolanda, why the UP administration can’t see this?” he asked
“STFAP is not really for assistance, it’s not serving its purpose,” Banguis added as he questioned also “why the UP administration could allocate budget for income-generating projects but not for student assistance”
Banguis believed that “because of STFAP the government has more reasons to cut chunks of education budget allotment”. He said the UPV Tacloban students would like to see STFAP scrapped because “it doesn’t serve its purpose which is to give assistance”.
The GASC adapted the resolution to scrap STFAP after the UP Cebu filed it.
The President speaks
UP President Alfredo Pascual insisted however, that “I don’t remember saying that [to the students of UPV Tacloban]”.
“Never in my dream na masasabi ko iyon. Ba’t ko naman masasabi iyon on the face of somebody? (Never in my dream could I utter those words. Not in the face of somebody),” he told Davao Today in a telephone interview.
“I even talked to them for one hour. Siguro what they mean is the Psychosocial Therapy,” he added.
He said that the typhoon had affected the financial status of families or households. “But it does not mean that if the place was hit by the typhoon, it’s automatic to consider that the financial standing of all families were affected,”
“Anu huhulaan? Hindi lahat ng nag enroll sa UP Tacloban ay nakatira sa Tacloban. Walang automatic rebracketing (What’s this, a guessing game? Not all of those who enrolled in UP Tacloban come from Tacloban. There would be no automatic rebracketing),” he said.
He said that “being a UP Tacloban student is insufficient proof [to be granted free tuition]. It doesn’t follow that one is rendered financially incapable if one was affected by the typhoon”.
He said some families have still their livelihood to tend. “We have to be fair”.
He said the university’s special financial projects “are public funds”. “Automatic rebracketing is nice.But is it prudent?,” he said. (Earl O. Condeza/davaotoday.com)davao city, philippines, tacloban, typhoon haiyan, Typhoon Yolanda, University of the Philippines, UP, UP tacloban