UPLB students assert #FreeEduc #NoTuitionCollection in the first day rage

 

With another broken glass door, history has repeated itself.

Despite the heavy rains and suspension of classes, the first day rage protest organized by the University Student Council (USC) pushed through on August 2.

Upon reaching the Main Library, the students were met with a row of the University Police Force (UPF) and the Community Support Brigade (CSB) who were already blocking the entrance to the library. Nonetheless, student protesters formed a barricade to pressure the CSB and UPF to open the doors and let them in.

A few moments later, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Portia Lapitan faced the students to say that Chancellor Fernando Sanchez has already left because he had a meeting with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). However, students stood their ground and waited until they got a dialogue from the administration.

Furthermore, after several attempts to open the doors, USC Chairperson Charm Maranan was called inside by Vice Chancellor Lapitan. The CSB and UPF were then told that the students will be invited inside.

With this, the students calmed down and waited for the doors to be opened.

However, students were outraged after receiving a text from Maranan that they will no longer be let inside. They once again tried to let themselves in which led to the glass door breaking, leaving at least 2 students injured.

Dialogue with Lapitan

After successfully entering the Main Library, the students demanded for a proper dialogue with the administration, due to Chancellor Sanchez’ absence, Vice Chancellor Lapitan faced the students.

The students registered their call for free education and no tuition collection and urged the administration to be one with them in their calls as studies show that free education in UP is possible as UP, like other SUCs in the country sit on billions of funds collected from tuition fees and other school fees.

Alongside these calls, the students also condemned the release of a new memorandum by UP President Danilo Concepcion, invalidating the previously released memorandum by the Office of the Vice Chancellor suspending the collection of tuition fees for the First Semester of Academic Year 2017-2018.

Students present at the dialogue expressed how this has burdened lots of students in the university as Student Financial Assistance (SFA) and Socialized Tuition System (STS) results were only released that day.

“Saan po naming papakuhanin ng 30,000 ang mga magulang namin para ibayad sa tuition na akala nila ay suspended ngayon sem?” one student said.

On implementation of STS

“UP has limited resources. We have to rationalize kung sino yung qualified doon sa limited resources na ito. Alangan namang random yung pag-bigay naming ng limited resources,” Vice Chancellor Lapitan explained why UPLB still uses the Socialized Tuition System (STS).

She explained further that the tuition fee paid by the students is being used to operate UPLB.

“Kung gagawing free tuition, hindi sasagutin ng government [ang pang-operate sa UPLB], hindi sapat ang magiging resources. Kaya kailangan ang national government ang magsasabi ng free tuition parasila ang sasagot ng supposed free tuition niyo,” she added.

Students asked Vice Chancellor Lapitan if she can commit to joining the students to the Office of the President in voicing out their appeals. She said no but instead promised to release a statement regarding her commitment to free education. However, she did not want to discuss what her statement would include and requested that the students wait and see how she does her work, and that she does not want to be pressured.

“My say on the matter will not in any way be significant enough to change anything. I would not want to give you false hope,” she pressed.

The dialogue with Vice Chancellor Lapitan ended with two conclusions: that she will release a statement regarding the issue on tuition fee collection; and that tomorrow, August 3, she will ask Chancellor Sanchez to schedule a dialogue with the students.

The students hoped that the dialogue happens before August 25, the last day of enrolment.

Series of memos

The first day rage protest aimed to call the UP administration’s attention towards the series of memos released this July regarding the suspension of tuition fee collection.

On July 24, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) released a memo announcing the suspension of collection of tuition fees “until further notice.” This was followed by another memo last July 31, when the Office of the President release a memo that said “ UP shall use the Socialized Tuition System for Academic Year 2017-2018 in assessing the tuition and other fees, and providing financial support to the students.”

The results of the STS were released earlier today. [P]

EXCLUSIVE: Student’s cooling off mistaken for suicide attempt

Medics did not handle her well, she tells [P]

Amid circulating rumors of a student attempting to jump off the Narra Bridge, commonly known as the “Never Ending Bridge,” on March 21, a student came forward to the UPLB Perspective, saying she might be the one who people think tried to jump from the bridge, but was prevented from doing so by medical personnel.

In an interview on Wednesday, March 22, the student, who requested anonymity for this story, clarified that she was not attempting to jump off Narra Bridge.

The student explained that at past 3pm, she went to Narra Bridge to cool off, as she was feeling angry and sad at the time. Couple of minutes later, she saw an ambulance stopping near her. Medical personnel then alighted from the ambulance and attempted to hold her by the arms.

Citing the instinct of “stranger danger,” she refused to go with them. “Na-trauma ako. I didn’t think they did their best job,” said the student after the medical personnel insisted that she go inside the ambulance.

The medical personnel later offered to bring her to her dorm. She recalled leaving them and going towards the Student Union Building where she claimed she cried to her orgmates who were there. However, she said, the ambulance still followed her up until the DL Umali Auditorium.

How the rumor spread

“Nagulat ako sa Twitter,” she said when asked what she felt after seeing the reactions on social media. The student later clarified that she declined to be brought to neither the UHS nor any other hospital.

She also came forward to the UPLB Perspective because she felt that the time frame of what happened to her coincided with the time frame of the alleged attempted suicide incident.

Reports of the alleged incident started in the afternoon of March 21, when a certain Boy Bato posted on Facebook that someone jumped off Palma Bridge. He later retracted his earlier story and said that it happened at the bridge near the Main Library, the Narra or “Never Ending” Bridge. In the comments, Boy Bato said that he personally saw it.

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Screenshot of Boy Bato’s post

“Kasi galing ako UPF [University Police Force] dahil dun sa lisensya fiasco ko. So pag[ka]tapos nung meeting, may mga tao sa labas na [yun] na nga, may tatalon daw sa bridge, So dumaan ako. Ayun, may pulis on the scene na papaunta when it happened.” Boy Bato said in the comments section of his post.

Shortly afterwards, Boy Bato deleted the said post and deactivated his account.

Since then, social media, especially Twitter, went abuzz with news of someone jumping off the Narra Bridge.

However, no report of the alleged incident was recorded in the blotter of the UPF, UPLB Perspective has learned. This was also confirmed by Security Guard (SG III) Mervin Valencia, who was the investigator on duty that night, stating that it was only hearsay.

Tecson Pua, a BS Mathematics student, asked the official Facebook page of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs (OVCCA) about the veracity of the alleged incident that same night. The conversation with the office was posted on his Twitter account the next morning, March 22.

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Screenshot courtesy of Tecson Pua

“The University Health Service (UHS) reported a student who tried to jump from the bridge this pm but was prevented from doing so,” OVCCA said in their reply to Pua. The OVCCA also stated that the student was “brought to the UHS safe [sic] for appropriate action.” They also cited the hiring of “a consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Palis, to… deal specifically with suicidal cases” among  the university’s students.

The consultant psychiatrist being referred to is Dr. Alexandra Jean Palis.

UHS is unable to confirm OVCCA’s claim in the latter’s reply to Pua about anyone who tried to commit suicide being brought to the medical facility that day.

OVCCA has not responded to UPLB Perspective’s messages as of press time.

“HOPE” Forum

A reply to Pua’s screen cap posted on Twitter was Office of the Chancellor (OC) Memorandum No. 042 Series of 2017, dated March 16. The memo was an invitation to “HOPE: Health Orientation to Problems from Emotional Stress,” organized by the Office of Student Affairs (OSA). The event aims to provide an orientation about problems from emotional stress. Dr. Palis serves as one of the speakers in the said event.

A scanned copy memorandum was sent via email by the OC to the university’s units and college on March 22, a day after rumors of the alleged incident circulated around campus. The College Secretary’s Office (CSO) of the College of Human Ecology (CHE) reposted the scanned memorandum on its Facebook account. The same copy of the memorandum shared by the CHE CSO was tweeted by Pua. [P]

Family, friends seek help on missing UPLB alumnus

 

University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) alumnus, Michael Kenneth Cruz

University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) alumnus, Michael Kenneth Cruz, has been missing and cannot be contacted since the morning of Thursday, March 16. A missing person report was filed at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Pasay City Government the same day by Andrea Baule, Cruz’s partner.

According to Baule’s facebook post, Cruz was on his way to his first day of work to Balayan, Batangas. He left from their apartment at Pasig City to the terminal at Metropoint Taft at around 3am. The last text update received from Cruz was at 4:39 am saying that he is already at Taft waiting for other passengers.

” We tried to look for cctv and other possible terminals in taft pero wala pa magandang sightings of Mike. We just suspect 1 or 2 person na pinakahawig sa rememblance pero we can’t verify if sumakay siya or hindi eh dahil sa mga blind spot na din ng mga lugar. So far wala pa talaga kaming information about Michael’s location,” said Baule in a facebook interview.

Baule has also scouted different CCTV camera recording around the area of Taft to see if there is any sighting of Cruz. As of writing, there is still no update from the family, and the PNP Pasay regarding Cruz’s case. [P]

MTC defers arraignment of UPLB Chancellor

WORDS | CZARINA JOY B. AREVALO

The Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Los Baños deferred the arraignment for the oral defamation case of UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr. on Wednesday, March 8.

Attorney Rosalio Aragon Jr., lawyer of Chancellor Sanchez, motioned for the postponement based on the ground that they filed a petition for review before the Department of Justice (DOJ) last February 9. The petition for review was raised because of the conflicting rules on the provincial and regional state prosecutor.

Attorney Rosario cited Rule 116 Section 11  of the Rule of Court which states, “upon motion by the proper party, the arraignment shall be suspended for the case of a pending petition for review of the resolution of the prosecutor at either the DOJ, or the Office of the President; provided, that the period of suspension shall not exceed sixty (60) days counted from the filing of the petition with the reviewing office.”

On the other hand, Atty. Emilio C. Capulong Jr., private prosecutor of Dr. Ruben Tanqueco, complainant, said that upon resolution of the Regional Prosecutor, the earlier resolution is considered final.

(READ:UPLB Chancellor accuses univ official of infidelity)

In an earlier report by the UPLB Perspective, Regional Prosecutor Ernesto C. Mendoza found the appeal meritorious, which granted the petition for review last January 24, 2017. The petition for review was filed by Dr. Tanqueco before the Regional Trial Court after the case was initially dismissed by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Laguna last July 16, 2016.

The arraignment is set on May 24, 2017 with or without the resolution of the DOJ, as granted by Presiding Judge Francisco Collado Jr. [P]

Salera family releases open letter to UPLB

On January 20, 2017, father and aunt of the late CVM student Uriel Salera, Mr. Orlan Salera and Dr. Leila Salera came to the UPLB Perspective office in hopes and request of the release of their open letter. It read:

“Last December 20, 2016, my brother, Uriel’s father called our mother to tell her that the letter from the UPLB Student Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has arrived. The SDT had ordered that the case of my nephew’s death that happened after undergoing the initiation activities of the Org. Rodeo Club be addressed by the Student Organization and Activities Division (SOAD). It also stated that the Org. complies to the provisions mentioned in the letter.

The decision was acceptable to us. It was fair. It does not in any way lessen the pain of our loss, but in some measurement, we felt that the SDT did their part, and with that I send these messages:

To the Org. that recruited my nephew, Uriel Salera.

Uriel was very excited to be part of your Org. His grandmother was totally against it, but because he wanted to truly experience everything that college had to offer, she relented and joined his father and me in supporting his desire to join you. He was willing to do everything just so he could become a member. He did his best to comply to your requirements. We did not share his enthusiasm, but we were proud of him, and it made us happy knowing how determined he was to finish what he started. He truly believed that becoming a member of your Org. would benefit him as a student and as a person.

That day we were so helpless. We could not do anything as my nephew lay lifeless. We could only take some small measurement of comfort knowing that he died with his family and did not suffer. It would have been so much more painful if he was taken and he was not with us. That is why we took offense when you said that we were not the only ones who suffered a loss, and that you did as well. The audacity of that statement saying you not only lost a recruit, but you also lost a friend. Years will go by and you will have new recruits. Most of them may become your friends. We will never have that luxury. No one will ever fill the void my nephew left when he passed away. That pain will never go away and none of you will ever understand that.

Uriel wanted to join your Org. He was recruited by your Org. Plain and simple. But is seems that you have decided that it was alright to have the mentality that you join at your own risk. Everything was voluntary and you were not forced. You join, take the risk. It comes out as you being satisfied that a recruit survives your initiation process, and will not care at all if a recruit does not. And because of that, you did nothing to ensure the safety of my nephew.

You said that you didn’t want to say anything anymore because you didn’t want to sound like you are defending yourselves too much. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? Defend yourselves? Which would appear more that you have something to hide? You defending yourselves, or you keeping silent? You were not forthcoming during the first meeting with the SDT. You only told us the whole truth during the second meeting and you kept mentioning the words “physically fit” regarding your recruits. You dare mention those words yet you failed to ensure the safety of your recruits including my nephew. What you made him go through was unacceptable. What would you have done if he collapsed during the initiation? The pain was already all to great when we he died in his father’s arms. You could and will never be able to imagine the pain if he died and he was away from his loved ones. 2016 was supposed to be a special year for Christmas in our family. It would have been the year that the whole family were together during Christmas since my father, Uriel’s grandfather had finally retired since he started working in the UAE since 2003. Our family would have been complete after spending so many holidays with his grandfather away from us. You have robbed us of that.

Know this. The family may have decided not to pursue any legal actions against you but do not in any way think that you are off the hook. We still hold you responsible. We will not forget this. My brother, Uriel’s father asked only one thing from you. Acknowledge my nephew’s death. Acknowledge your negligence, and let everyone know about it. Let my nephew’s death be a wake-up call. We want it published!

The statements you sent my brother just expressed your sentiments about my nephew but none of them acknowledged how you were not able to do your part in ensuring the safety of my nephew and all your recruits. None of those sentiments reflected how sorry you were for being so irresponsible, and none of those sentiments expressed how any of you will take responsibility over what happened. Let it serve as a stern warning. Be very careful and ensure the safety of your future recruits, and this goes to all the Orgs. Don’t let my nephew become just a statistic.”

According to Mr. Salera, the option to escalate the case further has always remained open. “I would like to comment upon the very lamentable way the Rodeo Club has handled the issue regarding the death of my only son and child, Uriel F. Salera. After 2 hearings with the SDT, after which we came to an agreement (or so I thought), that they would abide by my wishes for them to acknowledge my son and to put in writing that they will take the proper steps in order to avoid a repeat of this very tragic incident. All these are recorded. This did not happen,” he added.

 

UPLB Chancellor accuses univ official of infidelity

University official files defamation case

WORDS | CZARINA JOY B. AREVALO and JOSE LORENZO E. LIM

[UPDATED as of 26 February 2017, 3:50 PM]

Sa loob ng tatlong taon, kinunsinte ko ang director niyo [Dr. Ruben Tanqueco] sa absenteeism, tardiness at immorality. Nanahimik ako hoping na magbabago kaya lang hindi. Nakokonsensya ako, I cannot look straight to Tita Helen’s eyes.”

This is the statement that UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez uttered during the December 8, 2015 meeting in the Chancellor’s Office with engineers of Physical Plant Maintenance and Services Office (PPMSO), which Engr. Danny Rey Camus attested.

Two meetings transpired last December 8 wherein the grounds for the grave oral defamation case took place. As stated in the complaint, during the earlier meeting  with university officials including then Human Resources Development Office (HRDO) Chief Administrative Officer Armando Palanca, he heard Chancellor Sanchez utter to the group, “Dr. Tanqueco is having a relation with a staff of PPMSO and further added that it was for this reason he was ashamed to the husband of this PPMSO staff who works abroad as a seaman and was also ashamed to the wife [Tita Helen] of the complainant [Dr. Tanqueco].”

(READ: UPLB Chancellor faces criminal raps)

In an interview with the UPLB Perspective, former HRDO Chief Officer Palanca recalled that he asked to be excused when he heard the Chancellor’s statement during the said meeting, “Sir, tsisimis yan eh pwede ba ‘kong maexcuse na eh. Kung yan ay totoo Sir, kasuhan. Ground ‘yan for dismissal.” However, Sanchez insisted and asked him to stay in the meeting room.

Chancellor Sanchez in his counter-affidavit says he “denied having uttered during the meeting that Dr. Tanqueco is having a relation with a staff of PPMSO” and denied having said that he felt ashamed to the husband of the PPMSO staff and to Tita Helen, the wife of Dr. Ruben Tanqueco. Moreover, Chancellor Sanchez claimed that he did not commit grave oral defamation against complainant Tanqueco because the words he uttered during the meeting were done in good faith in connection with the lawful exercise of his functions as Chancellor and disciplinary authority of UPLB, and in the exigency of public service.

“Imagine you’re being maligned, di ba, in front of so many people, so ano yang prinoproject  na image? I’m already working in the university for 37 long years, unblemished record, and then all of a sudden, aakusahan mo ko in front of so many people na ganito ako. Anong intention mo? So that’s precisely the reason why I filed a case against him,” says former PPMSO Director Tanqueco, who also served in the university as Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Development.

Petition for review granted

On July 16, 2016, the grave oral defamation case was initially dismissed by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Laguna after the preliminary investigation conducted.

The investigating prosecutor ruled that the “utterances made by the respondent was not malicious.” The investigating prosecutor reasoned out grounds of privileged and private communication for the dismissal of the case. Furthermore, the statement “…was made in good and without evil motive.”

Dr. Tanqueco filed for a petition to review the Grave Oral Defamation case in the Office of the Regional Prosecutor.

On January 24, 2017, petition for review has been granted by Regional Prosecutor Ernesto C. Mendoza, which reversed the July 16, 2016 ruling.

Regional Prosecutor Mendoza found the appeal meritorious. After examining the Chancellor’s statement, “Dr. Tanqueco is having a relation with a staff,” the Regional Prosecutor believed that the statement places the person into public ridicule and contempt. “Simply put, it is as if complainant has been labeled as being immoral enough to destroy one’s virtue or reputation or to hold one up to public ridicule and contempt.”

The Office of the Regional Prosecutor countered the grounds on the dismissal of the case as privileged and private communication. In the said case, malice may not be presumed because statement is claimed to be privileged. However, the Office believes that evidence to prove malice has been evident in the Chancellor’s affidavit dated March 14, 2016.

“In my capacity as Chancellor, I had a first-hand account of complainant Tanqueco’s subordination. This happened when I requested through the Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Development, Dr. Marish Madlangbayan, for materials for the repair of my assigned unit of the UPLB housing facilities about a week before our meeting on 08 December 2015. Complainant Tanqueco denied my request for materials. When I bought the repair materials from my own funds out of exasperation and in order not to delay the repair works to be done, complainant Tanqueco prohibited the PPMSO personnel under his immediate control and supervision, to conduct repairs, to the damage and prejudice of public service,” the complaint affidavit stated.

On private communication, the Office of the Regional Prosecutor believed that the communication which took place in the December 8 meeting was not made in response to some moral, social or civic duty as the communication appears to have not been addressed to someone who has some supervision over Dr. Tanqueco. “It is not clear whether the attendees in the said meeting have some authority to inquire and investigate the alleged charges against the complainant.”

Status of the case

On February 6, 2017, Provincial Prosecutor George Dee of the Municipal Trial Court pushed through with the filing of a “grave oral defamation” case against Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. with criminal case no. 14539.

Chancellor Sanchez posted bail at the Los Baños Municipal Trial Court last February 20, Monday, for the said case. Additionally, an administrative complaint lodged against him is under review for an alleged violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

When asked about the status of the case, Dr. Tanqueco says, “Since maraming kaso yan, ang unang kaso na ngayon ay may nakikita kaming liwanag, itong criminal case na finile namin. You are all aware na nasa MTC na, so the arraignment is set on March 8. So kung ano mang magiging susunod na kabanata, eh tignan natin. Doon naman sa administrative case sa civil service, I’m hoping, I’m looking forward na it will be, the decision will come out any day very very soon.”

Dr. Tanqueco added, “[T]he reason why we’re doing this is to prevent incoming officials to commit some kind of abuses. Dapat, kung sinong mabababa, syang dapat protektahan. Less in life, more on rights.”

As of writing time, the Chancellor has yet to comment on the issue. [P]

BREAKING: UPLB Chancellor faces criminal raps

WORDS | CZARINA JOY B. AREVALO

[UPDATED as of 25 February 2017, 4:05 PM]

Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. posted bail at the Los Baños Municipal Trial Court last February 20, Monday, for a defamation case lodged against him by fellow University officials. Additionally, an administrative complaint lodged against him is under review for an alleged violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

Based from official documents obtained by the UPLB Perspective, complainant Dr. Ruben Tanqueco, Physical Plant Maintenance and Service Office (PPMSO) director, claimed that the alleged defamatory statement happened on December 8, 2015, during a meeting with UPLB officials at the Office of the Chancellor. On the other hand, the University’s Human Resources Development Office (HRDO) Chief Officer Armando Palanca filed the administrative complaint.

Chief Officer Palanca was in the December 8 meeting. Palanca served as witness for the criminal case against Sanchez. The criminal case against Chancellor Sanchez for “Grave Oral Defamation” is set to be arraigned on March 8 by the Laguna Provincial Prosecutor.

For the administrative case against Sanchez, it has been stated that, “Palanca specifically alleged that Chancellor Sanchez (i) relieved him from his position as Chief Administrative Officer of HRDO on April 29, 2016; and (ii) appointed Nelson Jose Vincent B. Querijero, Associate Professor 7 as HRDO Chief on April 21, 2016, both of which were during the time when the election ban on appointment is effective.”

As of press time, Chancellor Sanchez has yet to comment on the matter. The UPLB Perspective will bring you more information as this story develops. [P]