Monday, February 23, 2009

The DepEd, the CHED and Tuition Fees, Part 1 - Hanggang Pakiusapan Na Lang Ba?

22 February 2009

Today's headline in the Manila Bulletin reads: Tuition hike moratorium urged  The sub-head reads: DepEd chief says new burden untimely in crisis 

The article quotes DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus as saying:

"Lapus said it would also be for the good of private schools if they would enforce a moratorium on tuition increase as such would prevent the exodus of their students to public schools."

At first glance, it seems like good news, and it is! After all, it is not everyday that the Secretary of Education urges private elementary and high schools to refrain from raising tuition fees.  However, if you look at the news article more closely, some problems start to surface.

This is what the article reports the Secretary to have said:
  1.  "Lapus, however, said that if private schools really find it necessary to impose higher tuition, they must ensure that the increase is reasonable and that the parents are properly consulted."
  2.  "Lapus also admitted that the government hands are actually tied on the issue considering that tuition increase is already deregulated."
  3. "All that the government can do is to make an appeal and make sure that the increases are reasonable."
In short, what Secretary Lapus is saying is that tuition fees have been deregulated and all that government can do is to make an appeal or request, or "pakiusap."

The bottom line?  At least for now:
  1. We should all support Secretary Lapus and see to it that he does not backtrack from his minimal call for a moratorium but instead improve on it.  My own reading is that it is not exactly true that tuition fees have been "deregulated."  The Secretary of Education can do a lot more than simply make an appeal or pakiusap to private schools when it comes to the issue of tuition fee increases. 
  2. As parents, students and stakeholders in the educational system, we should stop thinking that we cannot do anything on the issue of rampaging tuition fee hikes.  There is always something that we can do.  Learning more about the process of raising tuition fees and how to oppose it is a good start.  Practising what we've learned is even better.  (More on this later.)
  3. If you have time, look up Republic Act No. 6728, "An Act Providing Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education,  And Appropriating Funds Therefor." It says in Section 10 thereof, "Consultation. In any proposed increase in the rate of tuition fee, there shall be appropriate consultations conducted by the school administration with the duly organized parents and teachers associations and teachers associations and faculty associations with respect to secondary schools, and with students governments or councils, alumni and faculty associations with respect to colleges. For this purpose, audited financial statements shall be made available to authorized representatives of these sectors."  
  4. The questions at this point, 1) how many of us know that this law even exists, especially this particular provision wherein it says that schools are supposed to make available audited financial statements to the various sectors with whom they hold consultation?; 2) As parents, or students, how many of us have attended these consultation meetings or have shown an interest to do so?; 3) How many schools have faithfully complied with the requirement to call these consultation meetings and conduct them properly? 4)  How many among us can recognize a financial statement let alone understand how to read it so that we can intelligently participate in the discussion in the remote event that we are afforded a chance to sit down in a tuition fee consultation meeting?  
  5. Have you ever heard the DepEd inviting parents and students to a seminar where they teach us about  the process of raising tuition fees so that we can better protect our own interests?  The DepEd spends considerable amounts training its own personnel in expensive locales but there's not even a pittance for parents.  Parents who send their children to private schools help shoulder a burden which belongs to government but this government seems unmindful of that fact.  In this country, parents in private schools are parents without rights! Tragic but true so we need to join hands and do something about it if we want to win back our rights and gain some respect!     
  6. Again, if you have the opportunity, check out the Supreme Court's 1993 decision in Lina vs. Cariño (the pertinent links do not appear to be working at the moment).  That ruling had much to say about the power of the DECS (the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports) regarding tuition fee increases, power which carries over to the DepEd and the CHED today.
  7. We should press our local authorities (as in City Mayor, Councilors, etc.) to provide greater funding for health and education. Unless funds are allocated in the budget for public health and public education, taxpayers' money will simply go to corruption and wasteful spending.  I know that this is easier said than done but this is something that we simply have to do.  Without competition from well-funded, well-run public schools, private schools will always have a heyday imposing their will to all of us on the issue of tuition fees. 
This issue is broad and deep and there is much to discuss.  Much of what there is to say about the DepEd also applies to the CHED (Commission on Higher Education).  Tuition fees and other school fees that are charged by these private schools are part of the bigger issue of consumerism.  If they're not, they should be!  

The paradigm needs to change.  It's not only private schools that are private!  The pockets of parents in private schools are private pockets!  Can you pick a private pocket without committing a crime? 

How about picking millions of private pockets of parents in private schools every semester or trimester?  How big and terrible a crime is that?!!!

From now on, this government should look at it that way. It has to be fair in protecting private property no matter how big or how little those involved.     

We're only skimming the surface at this point. As we shall see later, this is an issue that reaches all the way up to the United Nations.   

See you in the succeeding installments.  In the meantime, I'll appreciate hearing about your own thoughts and experiences on this matter which veritably affects the future of millions of young Filipinos.  


Friday, February 20, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Demands of Dignity by Prof. Ed Aurelio "DING" Reyes

February 4, 2009

Prof. Ed Aurelio "DING" Reyes launched his book "Demands of Dignity," at IAME.  Prof. Ding is shown below signing a copy of his book. 

Here, Prof. Ding poses for a picture with friends, among them no less than Dr. Emmanuel T. Santos, aka Noli Santos (as in Noli Santos International Tower, that's where the IAME is located).  

In his Introduction, Prof. DING explains best the rationale for his present volume:

"Ten years ago, on the occasion of the Golden and Centennial anniversaries of UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] and TP [Treaty of Paris of 1898], respectively, an active network promoting a keen sense of history among the peoples of the Philippines spearheaded together with the largest alliance of human rights advocates in the country a human rights-oriented and historically-mandated project in the form of a '1998 Philippine Declaration of Felicitation and Protest.'

Through the efforts of Kamalaysayan and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) this was formulated and subsequently signed by over 300 history-oriented educators, human rights [advocates] and students from all over the country, and copies were delivered to the respective embassies of Spain and the United States, the office of the United Nations resident representative in the Philippines, and some other official addressees, including the embassy of France.

This 1998 Philippine Declaration expresses, among others, a demand for an official apology from Spain and the same from the US.  We got a response from the Spanish ambassador, and his makes for a very interesting reading.

Now, a full decade later, Kamalaysayan is launching as a campaign project a deeper and broader discourse on the contents of this 1998 Declaration, covering the effort to foster a deeper understanding and firmer grasp of both international documents along with their respective implications and consequences, and elaborating on the items for which we have earlier aired demands for apology.

To jumpstart this campaign and provide an intial folio of materials for circulation and discussion, this writer was tasked to put together this book, one of the thickest and most well-researched among his two dozen or so published works, full-titled, Demands of Dignity: Developing the Discourse on the Philippine December 10th Declaration, a Decade After.  This book comes out in standard hard-copy version of about 180 pages, and in electronic full and popular versions mainly for an international audience.

The first two chapters tackle why the UDHR and the TP are, respectively, "a cause for celebration" and "a cause for indignation." The third chapter elaborates in detail the bases of the demands for Spanish and American official apology to the Filipino people and to Humanity, and the last two chapters respond to the Spanish written response and to the American non-response to the 1998 Declaration.

We have been asked why we still bother with these two very old documents 'just because they got signed on the same date.'  Actually, these two are much more closely related than that -- they are mutually relevant.  And they form part of our continuing past, for better and for worse.  They are part of the History of Humankind, of all of us.  They are both covered by the Demands of Human Dignity."

Mr. Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA, wrote the foreword.  This is what he says:

"The author challenges our sense of time in relation to human rights.  How far can we appropriately and effectively reach out from the past to correct the present and to work together for common dignity in the future?

The people' struggles inform and reshape the human rights discourse not only its language but its content as well.  To be effective and relevant, human rights defenders from the concerned parties must thus engage in solidarity with those who struggle for their dignity and rights.  The people in turn must engage the duty-holders, as well as all claim-holders of human rights to ensure that they all enjoy the full implementation of these rights and obtain dignity for all concerned."

Dr. Noli Santos wrote:

"Demands of Dignity by Ed Aurelio C. Reyes is a fresh historical contribution to the mainstream radical intellectual tradition of Philippine struggle for recognition of human dignity, independence, freedom and democracy."

He ended his Prologue, thus:

"With the hindsight of history, we call on President Obama to issue a statement of apology to the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines to show to the world that America still stands by its basic values of respect for human dignity, life, liberty, freedom, truth, justice and pursuit of happiness.  We also request President Obama to order the immediate return of the historic Bells of Balangiga taken by the American forces and are still being kept in the US after more than 100 years.  This bell is part of the natural treasure of the Philippines."

To me, Demands of Dignity is unfolding, interactive history -- this is a theme that I will be returning to from time to time.  

It summons us as a nation to keep confronting our past, to move on beyond that past when we have learned its more relevant lessons to forge a future that beckons with peace, justice, progress and dignity.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Morale Booster from Old, Formidable Warrior Jovito Salonga

6 February 2009

This afternoon, I had the chance to talk over the phone with Senator Jovito Salonga.  I had faxed to his office at Kilosbayan and to his residence my appeal to the Philippine government to suspend the diggings at Monumento and give way to public consultation that will save the Monumento from further desecration.  

Senator Salonga was kind enough to hear my small voice over the phone.  He was in agreement with the call for consultation over the issue of protecting national dignity and honor at the Bonifacio Monument.  I expect to hear a public pronouncement on Monumento from Sen. Jovito Salonga, easily one of the greatest living Filipinos. 

Humility is a hallmark of this man's character.  

Here's an excerpt from Senator Salonga's "A Letter to the Filipino Youth of Today" published in the maiden issue of Living News and Good Education, June 1, 2005 (the entire article is found in the The Jovito R. Salonga Journal).

"Later, Japanese troops landed in Lingayen, Pangasinan, and in several places in Luzon. Filipino-American troops in those places fought back but had to retreat to Bataan and Corregidor. On December 26, 1941, Manila was declared an open city, which means the Japanese could enter freely without armed resistance. On January 2, 1942, Japanese officers and soldiers were swarming around Manila and surrounding areas, such as Pasig and Marikina. Because of the abuses committed by the enemy, especially against Filipino women and children, I went underground and joined the fight against Japan. During the Holy Week of 1942, I was captured by the Japanese military police (kempeitai), was tortured, jailed in Pasig, then to Fort Santiago, transferred to the City Jail on San Marcelino, then to the Old Bilibid on Azcarraga, and eventually sentenced by the Japanese military tribunal to a prison term of 15 years of hard labor. By a stroke of good luck, I was released from Muntinglupa one year later (1941) on the occasion of kigen setsu the Foundation Day of Japan. In 1944, I was allowed by the Supreme Court to take the bar examination and I passed it with a good rating. I joined the guerrillas in Rizal. US forces landed in Leyte; in the second week of January 1945, they landed in Lingayen, Pangasinan and Manila was liberated by American GIs, guided by Filipino guerrillas, in February 1945. Other places were also liberated in quick succession. The atomic bomb was dropped by US Air Force on 2 Japanese cities: Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Japan surrendered to the US in August 1945."

How's that again? "Passed the bar with a good rating?"

Here's what another source say really happened:

"However, because of the advent of World War II, he postponed taking the Philippine Bar Examination until 1944—which he and José Diokno both topped with a grade point average of 95.3%, the 2nd highest score in Philippine Bar history (Florenz Regalado holds 1st place)."  

For more on Senator Jovito Salonga, please see this Wikipedia article: Jovito Salonga.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

UP Manila Social Sciences Week, Feb. 2-7, 2009

4 February 2009
These are some of the pictures that I took during the UP Manila Social Sciences Week.

The gentlemen you see wearing rayadillo uniforms, c. 1898, with rank insignias supposedly designed by immortal Filipino painter Juan Luna, are Mr. Nonito Flores (left), a businessman and Engr. Pedro Antonio V. Javier, a senior quality engineer working for Amkor Tech Phil.  Both are members of the "Buhay na Kasaysayan" reenactment group.

Obviously, this is a work in progress...  Please bear with me.  Babalik po ako.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Paghuhukay sa Monumento Rotonda Malapit Na sa LRT

04 February 2009

Kung pamilyar ka sa Monumento sa Caloocan, madali mong maa-identify ang lugar na ito.  To the left of the picture is the northern edge of the LRT.  At the foreground is a pink enclosure marked FB.  This is where the LRT-MRT3 closed loop project contractors obviously intend to dig another hole.  The threatened Bonifacio Monument is at the background. 

The picture below provides an update of an earlier picture I've taken in the post entitled "Terrible Diggings Continue at the Monumento."  They have dug this hole deeper; if you will note, there are sacks at the left side of the picture where they've gathered the dirt dug up from the hole.

Mga kapatid na Pinoy, we should act before it's too late!  Gumagapang na ang namumuong dilim sa banal na bantayog sa kadakilaan ng lahing Pilipino -- ang Monumento ni Gat Andres Bonifacio.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Andres Bonifacio, Unang Pangulo ng Unang Republika ng Pilipinas

3 February 2009

That's correct!  No misprint in the title - Andres Bonifacio, Unang Pangulo ...  An article posted at no less than the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) website makes this assertion regarding the matter:

"In July 1892, Bonifacio founded the Katipunan which launched the first anticolonial revolution in Asia in August 1896.  He formed the first national government established by Aguinaldo  from 1897 to 1899.

The Katagalugan government carried over the symbols and teachings of the Katipunan, which the people accepted as the revolutionary authority.  This government was democratic in principle, orientation and form.  At its inception, it was formed by representatives from the provinces where the Katipunan had a mass-based membership.   It adopted as its national standard the Katipunan's red flag with a white sun with the Tagalog letter 'ka' in the center and commissioned Julio Nakpil to compose the national anthem, 'Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan.'   

In defining 'Tagalog' as the term for all Filipinos, and 'Katagalugan' as the country's name in lieu of 'Filipinas' which had colonial origins, Bonifacio and the Katipunan sought to define a national identity.

The Katagalugan government commanded the loyalty of a significant portion of the population.  It held territory, where it exercised the functions of a state.  It had armed forces which fought for, and defended its existence.  It had diplomatic component, which attempted to gain international recognition for the new nation.

The governments that succeeded Bonifacio's essentially republican Katagalugan government could only proceed from it.  The 24 August 1896 government certainly had a large mass-based following than the 24 August 1897 entity that deposed it.  But as a result of the power struggle in Cavite, Emilio Aguinaldo, although only one of many revolutionary generals, usurped President Andres Bonifacio's authority.  Aguinaldo reorganized Bonifacio's Republika ng Katagalugan and renamed it Republica Filipina.

The first Filipino national government was established on 24 August 1896.  Filipinos should observe the date as National Day, if the 1896 Revolution and the Katipunan are to have any worth at all.  And Filipinos should recognize Andres Bonifacio not only the founder of the Katipunan and leader of the Revolution of 1896, but as the first Filipino president: the father of the nation and the founder of our democracy."
Here is the entire article about Andres Bonifacio being our first President:  http://www.ncca.gov.ph/about-culture-and-arts/articles-on-c-n-a/article.php?i=5&subcat=13

The NCCA is DEFINITELY not some fly-by-night organization.  As stated earlier, it is the National Commission for Culture and the Arts created by Republic Act 7356.  Among its mandates are to develop and promote Filipino national culture and arts and to preserve Filipino cultural heritage. 

I'm off to UP Manila.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Terrible Diggings at the Monumento Continue

31 January 2009

Dapat magpakita kahit konting respeto ang gobyernong ito!  (This government needs to show even a little respect!)

Notwithstanding our call for an immediate suspension of the LRT-MRT3 closing the loop construction project near Monumento to give way to public consultation, the diggings continue.  There are big holes already in the periphery of the Monumento Rotunda.  One of them shown below even has water in it.  This is evident because of the reflected image of the Monumento in the water on the hole. Apparently, the workers may have hit some pipes.  Talagang mukhang nagmamadali ang mga mamang ito!  Calling on Caloocan City Mayor Atty. Enrico "RECOM" Echiverri and Chief City Engineer Rolly Eduria.  Where is the permit for diggings like these that already encroach on the rotonda enclosing the Bonifacio Monument? 

Let's pray for our country and our leaders that God may touch their hearts and direct their minds to do the right thing.

Kapusong Gani Oro, Mabuhay Ka! Going on Air at DZBB 594kHz SuperRadyo

28 January 2009

This afternoon, I was blessed with the opportunity to what I set out to do -- to get on air via radio and what better place to do it than at   in Mr. Gani Oro's super program, Aksyon Oro Mismo.

I will be forever grateful to Kapuso Gani Oro and his staff, DZBB 594KHZ SuperRadyo and the entire GMA network for airing an urgent appeal for the Philippine government to cause an immediate suspension of the LRT-MRT3 construction near Monumento to give way to a public consultation that will spare the Monumento from further desecration.

True to Aksyon Oro Mismo's format, Ka Gani hosted a discussion on air between us and LTFRB Chairman and DOTC spokesman Thompson Lantion.  During the discussion, I was able to make the appeal for immediate suspension and public consultation.  Chairman Lantion asked me to write the DOTC.

To hear our on-the-air discussion:  


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