Post by ToNgUe-TiEd on Mar 30, 2004 21:04:35 GMT -5
The Triumph of Malice A Report to the UP Community and Alumni
Francisco Nemenzo President University of the Philippines
When the Senate adjourned last February 6, we saw eight months of intensive lobbying for a new UP Charter gone to waste. It was not the opposition of a loud minority that brought this about, but the masterful filibustering of a single senator and the ineffectual Senate leadership. Politicking of the most despicable type shelved what could have been the legislature’s singular gift to the University of the Philippines. Malice triumphed over reason.
Senate Bill 2587—an act amending the Charter of the University of the Philippines—was the culmination of over a decade of efforts by successive UP administrations to introduce long-overdue revisions to the UP Charter. The initial consultations started near the end of the term of President Abueva. President Javier continued the process. I merely inherited the bill my predecessor had drafted and submitted to both houses of Congress. SB 2587 is substantively the bill drafted by the committee of President Javier, minus the provisions that provoked much controversy during the consultations, such as my proposal for a University Senate.
Our Charter, framed in 1908, is badly in need of an overhaul to recognize our status as a national university—distinguished from the 110 other state universities and colleges by the level and quality of our teaching and research—and accord us the level of support a national university deserves. I specified these revisions and the reasons behind them in an earlier document, “A Charter for Our Times,” a copy of which you can still read on our website at www.up.edu.ph.
Improving our capabilities The most significant provision of SB 2587 exempts UP from the Salary Standardization Law (SSL), which inhibits UP from using its earnings and savings to improve the salaries of faculty and employees. Our inability to do so has resulted in the exodus of many of our best and brightest people, and in demoralization among those left behind.
We sought tax exemptions for imports of materials we need for teaching and research, and greater institutional autonomy to enhance our ability to compete with the best universities in the region.
SB 2587 also aimed to improve University governance by providing for a Staff Regent and for a better selection process for appointive members of the Board of Regents.
An earlier and similar form of the bill had passed the House of Representatives unanimously, and we had every good reason to expect that it would—with some minor amendments—pass the Senate as well. Senator Francis Pangilinan, the bill’s chief sponsor, took pains to conduct many consultations with the UP community and with his fellow senators to ensure that all points of view were represented and considered.
We received resounding support for the bill not only from our own constituents, but also from UP alumni here and abroad. The bill was certified as urgent by the Administration. Some questions were raised by some students and senators about our plans to make commercial use of our assets for our needs, but we answered these questions squarely.
Today, however, I must inform you that our campaign to get SB 2587 passed has, in this particular Congress, failed. The Senate adjourned its session without passing the bill or even bringing it to a vote, and we gravely doubt if it will be taken up again when the Senate meets briefly to canvass votes after the May 10 elections.
I say this with great sadness, as I had hoped that a new UP Charter would have been one of my administration’s worthiest legacies to the University. But I must also express my anger and dismay over the cavalier manner by which our bill was doomed to die on the Senate floor, largely on account of one senator’s utterly unreasonable objections and demands.
Between June 2003 and February 2004, UP’s chancellors, vice presidents, other University officials, and I dutifully attended the Senate sessions, ready to assist Senator Pangilinan in fielding questions on UP’s programs and plans. These sessions started in mid-afternoon and often went into the evenings, without any absolute assurance that our bill would be taken up.
At every interpellation, we performed well, providing the needed answers and prepared to cooperate with the Senate in crafting more mutually acceptable provisions without compromising our fundamental positions. We made reasonable concessions, introducing more safeguards against any possible abuse or misuse of power by the Board of Regents, but we held our ground on our designation as a national university, because this was our premise for requiring more support from government.
Publicly and privately, senators from both the administration and opposition parties expressed their support for the bill. We had the votes, to put it plainly, without even having to presume or to depend solely on the allegiance of the nine UP alumni among the senators.
One man’s instransigence But Senator Pangilinan’s efforts to move the bill forward were conssistently thwarted by Senator John Osmeña, who would either suddenly disappear when it was his turn to interpellate, or otherwise make demands and claims so outrageous that it took every ounce of forbearance on the part of our University officials to suffer them in the hope that our bill would pass, regardless.
John Osmeña claimed, for example, that UP had become a rich man’s school, catering only to the needs of Metro Manila. This is an old canard easily disproved by all the facts—which we presented, but which the senator blithely dismissed.
But this was the least of our worries. John Osmeña reserved his worst diatribes for my person, privately calling me a communist, blaming my relatives in Cebu for his political misfortunes, and vowing to make UP pay for “demonizing” him during the bases debate more than a decade ago. Once, he informed UP officials that only my immediate resignation from the UP presidency could secure his support for the Charter bill. When he realized that I was resolved to serve UP to the end of my term, he proceeded to do his best to achieve the same end and to maim SB 2587 in the process by demanding, for example, that the UP President’s age be limited to 65. Over a period of almost eight months, he maintained this peevish and puerile posture, managing to delay substantive discussion of our Charter to the end.
I relish intellectual debate, and am used to the insults of the ignorant and the desperate. But this is not an argument between John Osmeña and myself. This is not even an argument, but petty tyranny at its worst, with brute political power prevailing over any possibility of reason. It is patently unjust to hold the future of the country’s leading university hostage over some personal differences, no matter how deep they may be. I would have no hesitation leaving office for the right reasons—but humoring John Osmeña is hardly one of them. I have a university to lead, to manage, and to defend—and I will do so to the end of my lawful term to the best of my ability.
Post by ToNgUe-TiEd on Mar 30, 2004 21:05:10 GMT -5
A failure of leadership In the meanwhile, it is a tragedy that we came this close to seeing our ten-year labor of legislation succeed, only to be foiled in the end by one man’s intransigence.
But perhaps I should not have been too surprised by the machinations of this one senator, whose pettiness and petulance are legendary. What I am more deeply disappointed by was the abject failure of the Senate leadership—which had publicly promised to support the bill—to exercise its legal and moral prerogatives to bring the matter to a vote, taking cognizance of Senator John Osmeña’s tediously familiar objections.
Senate President Franklin Drilon—who was named our “Most Outstanding Alumnus” not too long ago—publicly promised the UP alumni reunion in Iloilo last July that we would have a new Charter by the end of the year. I reminded him of this personal pledge just a few days before the end of the session, and he urged me over the phone to accept further modifications, in deference to John Osmeña’s caprices. We addressed those concerns—clarifying, for example, what we meant by a national university. We fielded questions and considered constructive suggestions from the many senators who took time to interpellate us or express their support—including members of the opposition and non-UP alumni—whom we thank for their interest.
But no vote was ever called or taken, and the Senate leadership let valuable time slip away until it was too late, for reasons we can only divine. Despite Senator Pangilinan’s valiant effort—for which we are deeply grateful—to keep the bill alive, what triumphed in the end was malice, misinformation, and petty politicking.
I realize that the Senate had many other important bills to consider, and that its legislative agenda was upset by such distractions as the Jose Pidal exposé and the Oakwood mutiny. I do not question the right of any senator to interpellate any measure before that body. But I have no doubt that something could still have been done by a truly committed leadership to save SB 2587. With the election of a new Congress in May, we have no assurance that the new senators and congressmen will be so favorably disposed toward our measure.
We will fight on Those who opposed SB 2587 may be pleased by this delay and even claim an albeit hollow victory, thanks to an improbable ally. That pleasure will be short-lived, as the realities of our resource constraints set in, something that our new Charter could have helped relieve.
But we will fight again, and we will fight on. We cannot yield to demagoguery and intimidation. As disappointing as the results of this struggle have been, we also learned many things, and will employ those lessons in a fresh campaign to get a new Charter—perhaps one even better than the current version—drafted and passed.
Among those lessons is my conviction that just as our legislators have always held UP accountable for its programs and its funds, so should UP hold the legislature and its individual members accountable for their acts of commission and omission. We can only pray—and mobilize—for the emergence of more responsible lawmakers and leaders who can truly help UP and Philippine higher education.
I thank all our faculty members, students, staff, and especially our alumni who gave their unqualified support to the new UP Charter, as well as the more enlightened senators and congressmen who fought for its passage. I hope we can continue to depend on you, as we face even tougher battles ahead.
We should find solace in the thought that, as long as we keep true to our core values and ideals and maintain our fundamental union as a community of scholars, the University of the Philippines will survive the worst of politics and politicians.
Post by ToNgUe-TiEd on Mar 30, 2004 21:13:27 GMT -5
[Paid advertisement by Friends of Senator John H. Osmeña published in the March 4, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer]
TO THE U.P. COMMUNITY
The U.P. Bill is not a “legislative gift to the University”. It represents a juicy retirement check for the overstaying U.P. President.
By law, all government employees must retire at the age 65, the U.P. President included. He is appointed to a fixed term of six years, which he may serve before he reaches 65 years of age. Otherwise, he retires (Topacio Nuevo vs. Angeles, 76 Phil. 12).
Under the U.P. Bill (SB 2587) the Board of Regents determines the compensation of the President of the University (Sec. 12). The Board also draws up the position classification and compensation plan (Sec. 10 k). If Nemenzo retires after the bill is enacted into law, he will enjoy a vastly larger retirement check. That is the real gift he is pursuing. No wonder he insists on overstaying despite the provisions of laws.
Haven of Disruptive and Destructive Politics Among the proposed purposes of the University is to “provide opportunities for training and learning in progressive leadership, responsible citizenship and the development of democratic values, institutions and priorities.”<br> Translation: a nest of anti-establishment activities such as the cases in the Supreme Court filed by Nemenzo’s wife, which would make the cost of electricity consumed by 129 rural electric cooperatives to go up.
Historically, U.P. has been a haven of this type of activity without enshrining it as a mandate in its charter. But not surprising, given the background and track record of Nemenzo.
Congressional Power Over the Purse The Constitution vests upon Congress the power to appropriate public funds. Yet the bill seeks to reduce this power and limit Congress to appropriating a subsidy. That subsidy is hidden in Section 19, under “Grants and Other Real Properties of the University”. It takes over the powers of Congress.
I offered to support the U.P. Bill that features, among them, the designation of U.P. as a National University “with academic standard of excellence competitive with those national universities in the region” and the exemption from the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) thereby increasing the pay of the staff of the university.
But Nemenzo insisted on illegally remaining in office for his personal benefit and chose to sacrifice the “singular gift” and his administration’s “worthiest legacies”. To demand that we follow the law is not “universal”; Nemenzo’s greed is what stands in the way of its enactment.
U.P. Not Above the Law The phrase “the provisions of law to the contrary notwithstanding” appear all over the bill, in effect laws (like the Civil Service Law) are not applicable to U.P. This phrase can also be found in (1) regulations on leaves of absences (Sec. 10 q); (2) removal from office (Sec. 10 k); (3) extension of service beyond compulsory retirement age (Sec. 10 l); (4) travel Sec. 10 q); (5) rules for its own government and the discipline of its faculty and other personnel (Sec. 10 t); and (6) institutional autonomy (Sec. 21).
Control the Board of Regents There is a well-established balance in the Board of Regents. Nemenzo seeks to “demoralize” to tilt the balance in his favor. Also one must remember he retires in a year’s time (at the end of his 6-year term at age 68) so he wants to control the choice of his successor. The Board of Regents elects the new President.
For All Filipinos (?) The mission of U.P. is to “promote, foster, nurture and protect the rights of ALL citizens to quality education”. U.P. has failed in these missions. One only needs to look at its enrollment: 50,000 in Luzon, 7,000 in the Visayas and less than 1,000 in Mindanao. Its only building in the Davao campus is half-finished. Year after year the appropriation U.P. gets from Congress is used up in Luzon.
University of the Rich There is no denying that U.P. has become a rich man’s school. it has a parking problem. Car ownership/use among U.P. students and faculty is higher than the other campus in Manila.
The tuition system is socialized but the highest bracket is only 25% of a compensative amount paid in Ateneo and La Salle. The children of a Senator a few years back were in U.P. when they could well afford Ateneo and La Salle given the father’s law practice in one of the country’s leading law firms.
Not Nemenzo vs. Osmeña<br>It is an often used device to mask the issues in terms of personal conflicts.
We both fought Marcos but for different reasons. Myself to restore democracy and to him to install a socialist state.
It is a conflict between one who believes in private ownership of capital, free market and republican government as against those who believe in state ownership and state control.
It is a conflict for the control of the National University to prevent its fall into the hands of people of destructive and disruptive politics.
Post by ToNgUe-TiEd on Mar 30, 2004 21:15:26 GMT -5
Pres. Nemenzo's Reply to Osmeña...
OSMEÑA’S OBSTRUCTIONISM By President Francisco Nemenzo
Senator John Osmeña’s paid advertisement (Inquirer, March 4) confirmed our worst suspicion that unbridled malice has obscured his reasoning, to the point of holding back the development of the country’s leading university and sacrificing the welfare of its constituents.
For eight months, we worked hard for the passage of Senate Bill 2587—a bill to update our century-old Charter—which would have allowed UP to pay realistic salaries, improve its system of governance, and generate more resources to augment its budget.
Thanks largely to John Osmeña’s capricious and unreasonable demands, the UP Charter bill failed to be voted on when the Senate adjourned its session last February 6. Unless the Senate finds the opportunity and the will to take it up again in May, Osmeña’s stonewalling may very well have laid to waste a decade of painstaking legislative effort.
His message “To the UP Community” tries to make it appear that he has substantive and unanswered objections against the new Charter. But he never raised those questions on the floor all these past eight months. Other senators from both the administration and the opposition sought clarifications or reasonable amendments—which we gladly provided. In his advertisement, Osmeña also cites issues that we had already refuted with empirical data—which he conveniently ignores. (The Charter documents, including Sen. Osmeña’s unedited advertisement and our point-by-point rebuttal, are on our website at http://www.up.edu.ph.)
What emerges from the fog of his fulminations is the sad spectacle of a mind warped by personal vindictiveness. That it belongs to a senator of the Republic is doubly tragic.
Contrary to what John Osmeña says, it is not our purpose to place UP above the law. We are only asking for a law that recognizes its uniqueness as the national university and gives it the autonomy to function as such. For UP to catch up with its counterparts in Asia, it should not be required to operate just like any other government bureaucracy. Since the government lacks the money for UP’s modernization, it should be given greater flexibility to manage its idle and potential assets.
There is nothing sinister about this bill. But his long immersion in trapo culture—in which he deserves an honorary doctorate—has made John Osmeña thoroughly cynical, believing that everyone thinks like him, on the basis of selfish interest. Thus he performs a logical contortion to put forward the absurd charge that I am pushing for a new Charter in order to arrange for myself a handsome retirement package. This is what he means by “Nemenzo’s Greed,” the original title of his badly written piece on the Senate website, before it appeared as a paid ad.
It is a cute piece of demagoguery. In fact, the present Charter already authorizes the Board of Regents to set the salary of the UP President. I do not need a new Charter to achieve the devious intention he ascribes to me.
For the public’s information, my basic pay as UP president is a glorious P35,000 a month plus P5,500 representation allowance. Many of our fresh UP graduates earn more than this! If I had just wanted a comfortable retirement, I should have accepted any one of several offers to sit on the board of large corporations or to accept tenured posts in universities abroad.
It is a salary scale like this that we are precisely seeking to improve through SB 2587 to help UP retain the best and brightest on its faculty. This is not for me but for the thousands of professors and non-academic staff who will be serving UP long after I have retired. I have lived modestly all my life, as all who know me can attest to. My joys lie in good books and the challenges of the intellectual life. For a prosperous politician like John Osmeña to accuse a UP professor like me of “greed” is pathetic in its hypocrisy.
Mr. Osmeña insists that I should have retired upon reaching the age of 65. But the law provides for an extension of service beyond 65 by the appropriate authorities in meritorious cases. Pursuant to the University Code, the Board of Regents saw fit to give me a six-year term until my 70th birthday in 2005. This was not without precedent. President Vicente G. Sinco served until he was 68, and President Carlos P. Romulo served until he was 69.
We at UP continue to be mystified by how one man’s petty tyranny can hold an entire chamber and the future of our national university hostage. As a professor of political science, I am familiar with parliamentary practices in various countries. I know that any member of a legislative body has the right to ask questions; but in other countries no one is allowed to abuse this right in order to paralyze vital legislation.
UP has received resounding support for its position on SB 2587; this response is being paid for by concerned UP alumni who immediately offered their assistance, since UP does not have and would not spend funds to defend itself. On the other hand, I have been advised by some well-meaning alumni and friends that it may be fiscal suicide for a State university that depends on Congress for its funding to engage a powerful senator in forensic combat. (We already saw some evidence of this when, in the first year of my presidency, Senate Finance Committee chairman John Osmeña cut UP’s budget by over P114 million.) Given the present state of our politics, that may well be true.
But I would betray UP’s proud tradition of intelligent activism if I do not take on this challenge. With or without John Osmeña’s intervention, I will leave office in less than a year’s time, and my own personal fortunes are immaterial to this issue. It was not for myself that we waged this effort to revise the UP Charter, but for the University itself and for our country’s future in a fiercely competitive, knowledge-based world order.
And so again I ask of our political leadership: let me suffer the worst of John Osmeña’s peevishness and obstructionism, but please spare the University, and allow it to realize its full potential as our national university.
good thing ToNgUe-TiEd posted both the side of Osmeña and Nemenzo. the article of Osmeña shows how impudent he really is.
he commits d**ning the source, argumentum ad hominem, wrong analogy, et alia fallacies in his statements. he thinks that the UP community doesn't know how to spot a good argument from a petulant, perverse, or bad ones.
"It is better to be silent and be thought of as dumb, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubts."
well what do you expect from a closet queen... ey you heard he/shes been accused of raping a male prostitute...
[glow=red,2,300]Keep the faith and drop the fear. Don't believe your doubts and don't doubt your beliefs. Life is a mystery to solve not a problem to resolve. Life is wonderful if you know how to live. [/glow]
but a bigger question is, on whose side do we fight with...because...
here's another identity...HB 1587...from the UP MSC
......."Rep. Eduardo C. Zialcita, upon request by the UP Medicine Student Council (UP MSC), filed with the 13th Congress last July 22, 2004 House Bill No. 1587 entitled “An Act to Strengthen the University of the Philippines as the National University”. It is also known as “The UP Charter of 2004”..........
and another one....from the Student Regent....
and also one from UPD-USC (UP Diliman-University Student Council....
ang mahulog ani, ang UP Charter magka Multiple Personality Disorder...
worst, ma-divide ang support sa whole UP community...
what is happening to UP? unsa may buot pasabot, mag-tinagsa na lang tag pass og bill?