The first half: A news timeline

BY GUIEN GARMA

The first half of year 2013 has been full of important stories, decisions, and contentions. Here is a summary of the year’s first six months, UP-wide and nationwide.

New SR from UPMin

Krista Iris V. Melgarejo, a BS Food Technology graduate and a former chairperson of UP Mindanao’s University Student Council, now represents the UP System studentry to the Board of Regents.

Melgarejo, the first student regent from UP Mindanao, replaces Cleve Kevin Robert Arguelles of UP Manila.

The student regent selection was held during the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) held May 19.

Melgarejo was chosen over five other nominees, four of which are from UP Diliman, and UP Los Baños’ Allen Lemence. The second and third nominees were Leila Nur Aryanna Canacan and Victor Gregor Limon, respectively, both from UP Diliman.

 

OSA distributes Bibles to freshies

The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) was in hot water just when classes started after it led the distribution of Bibles for the university’s new freshmen before the start of the annual campus tour.

A video uploaded to YouTube by the Filipino Freethinkers shows OSA Director Dr. Leticia Afuang telling new freshmen that they shall receive one Bible each. She also told the students to “let this [the Bible] be your guide.”

In a statement released on June 14, the Office of the Chancellor clarified that the University did not purchase the distributed Bibles but were donated by an organization, adding that the said move “has been interpreted as sanctioned by the University, when in truth and in fact, it was not.”

The UPLB administration said that “additional mechanisms are now being discussed to ensure that the University continues to respect plurality and diversity of faiths and beliefs of its constituents and the community.”

UP BOR to chancellors: Don’t deny poor UP students of education

“No qualified UP student shall be denied access to education due to financial incapability.”

That resolution raised during the 1,287th meeting of the UP Board of Regents was approved last April 12, in light of the various cases of students unable to pay for their tuition and other fees.

Meanwhile, on May 31, UP President Alfredo Pascual signed Executive Order No. PAEP 13-04, granting powers to all chancellors and the dean of UP Cebu “to approve on a case-by-case basis, applications and appeals from students and/or their parents/guardians for loans under the Student Loan Board” of up to 100 percent.

In February this year, Kristel Tejada, a UP Manila student who was forced to take a leave of absence after not being able to pay her student loans, ended her life. Her death roused calls to scrap, if not reform the university’s socialized tuition scheme.

New faculty regent from UPM

Dr. Lourdes Abadingo of UP Manila’s College of Arts and Sciences was elected as UP System’s faculty regent, replacing UP Los Baños’ Dr. Ida Dalmacio.

The UPM CAS website said that Dr. Abadingo, a political science teacher, was a former secretary and assistant secretary of the UP Board of Regents. She also held administrative positions in UPM, including Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

CAS-SC vice chair-elect takes over

College of Arts and Sciences Student Council (CAS-SC) vice chairperson-elect Justin Benedict Balcera takes over the seat of chairperson-elect Krissah Marga Taganas after the latter received a scholarship in South Korea.

Taganas is currently in Far East University in South Korea for a one-year Global Leadership Award scholarship.

Alecx Andrea Bagatsolon was elected by the council as the new vice-chairperson, while Eriel Sanchez completed the new councilor line-up of the largest college in the University.

[ERRATUM: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that Bagatsolon was the top councilor in CAS-SC. We apologize for the error.]

Dorm alliance founding president reelected

Louis Karl Eusebio, the founding president of the Alliance of Dormitory Associations (ADA), was reelected during the All Dormers’ Assembly last July 25.

Eusebio is joined by Cesar Angelo Aurigue and Justine Maturan as vice-president and secretary, respectively.

The ADA, which has been revived again this semester, was first convened February 2013 at the height of the movement for dormers’ rights. The University Student Council’s Students Rights and Welfare Committee helped reconvene ADA this semester.

SLB, STFAP application forms go online

Starting this academic year, students were able to fill up the forms for filing of student loans and Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) online.

Forms for SLB and STFAP were opened online through uplbosa.org.  Computers were also set up at an office in the Student Union Building to accommodate students who wish to electronically fill up their application forms. Setting appointments for STFAP applicants are now done online.

Despite this, the queue of students submitting their forms and other documents remained long, reaching the stairs of the building.

Opening of classes: Bye June, hello August?

To keep up with international neigbors, Chancellor Rex Victor Cruz has proposed rescheduling the University’s academic calendar, moving the start of classes to August.

The Chancellor suggests that the first semester be scheduled from August to December, and the second semester from January to May. Summer classes shall be held from May to June.

Multi-billion peso pork barrel scam exposed; scam poster queen surrenders

As of this writing, the pork barrel scam telenovela continues as Janet Lim-Napoles, the so-called mastermind of a multi-billion peso pork scheme surrendered to President Aquino on August 28. Four days later, she was transferred from Makati City Jail to Fort Santo Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, the same facility where former President Joseph Estrada was detained.

Reports from various media outlets explained that Napoles, owner of JLN Corporation, formed bogus nongovernment organizations and sought funds from congressmen and senators for non-existing projects. The members of Upper and Lower House then provide funds for these bogus projects through their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more known as pork barrel.

Approximately two weeks before Napoles’ surrender, an arrest warrant was released against Napoles and his brother-in-law Reynald Lim for charges of illegal detention filed by Janet’s former aide Benhur Luy.

Luy led a group of former JLN Corp. employees who took Napoles’ corrupt practices to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which then ran a front-page investigative series on the pork barrel scam.

Meanwhile, a new group called Youth for Accountability and Truth Now! (Youth ACT Now), organized by the youth sector and several organizations, scheduled a protest last September 13 in Luneta, a march to the House of Representatives, Senate, and Mendiola, Manila last September 9, and a nationwide boycott of classes on September 16 to 20.

Another group called Youth Against Pork (YAP) scheduled a general assembly on September 28 at the Ateneo de Manila University.

In this University, an alliance of students, faculty, and staff called Unibersidad ng Pilipinas Laban sa Baboy was formed and has launched protest actions and a the What the Pork? Forum held last September 16. [P]

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