by Rommel C. Lontayao of Ang Pamantasan
Published last June 7, 2010
With five of its six positions held by Bukluran party members, the Supreme Student Council (SSC) this year is expected to make a louder call for student regency (SR).
A student regent is a student representative to the University’s Board of Regents (BOR), which is the highest decision-making body of PLM and has the power to grant diplomas, certificates and titles to students and the authority to settle issues within the University.
Bukluran, for many years, has been in the forefront of the SR campaign.
Its main arguments are PLM’s classification as a state university and the existence of a law providing that state universities and colleges (SUC) must have a student representative in their BOR.
In a statement it previously issued, Bukluran said that PLM is a state university because Section 3(b) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 8292, also known as the Higher Education Modernization Act (HEMA) states so.
It provides that SUCs “refer to public (Higher Education Institutions) in the Philippines created and established by law which constitutes their charter and which have independent and separate (Governing Boards).” PLM fits those descriptions.
According to Section 6 of R.A. 8292’s IRR, the Governing Board or the BOR of a state university must be composed of 10 individuals: the Chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as chairman; the President of the chartered SUC as vice chairman; the Chairman of the Committee on Education of the Senate; the Chairman of the Committee on Higher and Technical Education of the House of Representatives; the Regional Director of the National Economic Development Authority of the particular region where the chartered SUC is located; the President/Chair/Head of the duly recognized Faculty Association of the chartered SUC; a Student Regent; the President of the alumni association; and two prominent citizens representing the private sector who have distinguished themselves in their professions or fields of specialization.
For the student regent, the law provides that he must be “the President of the supreme student council or the student representative elected by the student council who shall be known as the Student Regent (SR)…” and “…that in the absence of a student council president or student representative elected by the student council, the university or college shall schedule one week for the campaign and election of a student representative.”
This year’s SSC President is Medicine student Noliver Barrido, a member of the Bukluran party. He also has four partymates in the student council.
There is an argument against student regency in PLM, though.Republic Act 4196 or the PLM Charter specifically states the composition of the University’s BOR.
In Section 4 of the Charter, it is stated that “The Board of Regents shall be composed of the president of the university and five members, all of whom shall be appointed by the Mayor of the City of Manila, with the consent of the Municipal Board: provided, that of the six members appointed by the Mayor, one shall come from the faculty, another from the alumni of the said university when such alumnus shall be available, and one of the others to be a recognized educator or authority in the field of education. The Superintendent of Schools for the City of Manila shall be ex-officio member of the Board of Regents.”
Bukluran, however, believes that such provision in the Charter has been superseded by that of RA 8292.
“PLM is enacted by legislation thru Republic Act No. (4196), commonly known as the PLM Charter. The PLM Charter vested its powers to the Board of Regents authorizing it to open curricula and institutional programs, and award its own degrees. However, on July 22, 1997, landmark legislation was made enacting into law Republic Act 8292 otherwise known as the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997,” it said.
“This Act provides among others for the uniform composition and powers of the governing boards of SUCs with the Chairman of CHED as the Chair of the governing boards of all SUCs. With this new set-up, in effect this places all SUCs under the supervision, policy and development mandate of CHED. This enables the CHED to exert influence or provide proper guidance on the quality and directions of the academic programs as well as on the internal operations of the SUCs,” it added.
The PLM administration, however, maintains that the University has full autonomy mainly because it has its own charter.
For its failure to allow a student representative to sit as a member of the University’s BOR, Bukluran said that the PLM administration has violated the law.
“PLM is clearly non-compliant of the law specifically created to modernize and rationalize the direction of SUCs particularly in the composition and powers of governing boards,” it said.
“The absence of a student regent in the BOR is one visible indication that PLM refuses to grant the right of the students to be represented in policy-making within the university,” it concluded.
Bukluran said it would seek intervention in the matter of PLM’s non-compliance of R.A. 8292 and the issuance of a restraining order to the PLM BOR from delivering its normal function until its composition is fully organized in compliance with R.A. 8292 with the inclusion of a student regent.
The call for student regency has been on for years now with several student organizations supporting the Student Regent Now! Alliance. In 2002, there was an attempt to amend the PLM Charter and insert a provision allowing student regency. The bill was filed by Senator Francis Pangilinan but no action on the bill was taken by the Senate up to this time.
Former University President Adel Tamano also expressed his support for SR and said that he might initiate a bill that would amend the Charter if he would be elected as a senator. However, Tamano lost in the recent elections.