Tuition Fee Hike v.s. Magna Carta of Students

Rey Tamayo, Jr.

Sa kasalukuyang takbo ng pangyayari sa ating bansa, tila baga walang katapusan ang problemang dumarating kay Juan dela Cruz.

Hindi na mapigil ang patuloy na pagsirit ng presyo ng petrolyo sa merkado, ang resulta, tumaas ang singil ng pamasahe sa mga pampublikong jeepney at bus.

Maging ang kakapusan ng supply sa bigas ay ramdam pa rin ng mga Pilipino lalo na ang mga maralitang taga lungsod. Sa sobrang taas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin, ang ilan sa ating mga kababayan ay nagtitiis sa mahabang pila upang makabili lamang ng dalawang kilong NFA rice. Na ang ilang toneladang sako ng bigas na inangkat ng gobyerno ay buhat pa sa Estados Unidos na ayon sa ilang eksperto ay (GMO) o Genetically Modified Rice na makasasama sa ating kalusugan.

Sa pagbubukas ng klase ngayong taon, panibagong krisis na naman ang kinakaharap ng ating mga kababayan. Pabigat din sa mga magulang at estudyante ang pagtaas na matrikula sa mga pribado at pampublikong eskuwelahan sa bansa.

Mariing tinutulan ng League of Filipino Students (LFS) ang biglang pagtaas ng matrikula sa bansa ngayong taon. Anila, mawawalan ng saysay ang diumano’y ‘gimik’ na moratorium ng Malacañang sa tuition fee hike sa mga State Universities and Colleges o SUCs kung hindi marerefund ang dagdag na singil sa mga nagsipagbayad nang mga mag-aaral. Nanawagan din ang grupo sa agarang pagpapatupad ng rollback sa matrikula lalo na’t lumulobo ang antas ng kahirapan at mga krisis na nararanasan sa bansa.

Iginiit naman kamakailan ni Quirino Rep. Junie Cua, senior vice chairman ng House committee on appropriations, na walang dahilan upang magtaas ng matrikula ang mga SUCs sa dahilang halos P21 bilyong pondo ang ipinagkaloob ng pamahalaan sa State Universities and Colleges para sa taong ito.

Kung taun-taon na lamang ay may nangyayaring tuition fee hike sa mga estudyante, panahon na siguro upang maisabatas ang Magna Carta of Students.

Matatandaang naging priority bill ang House Bill No. 9935 o mas lalong kilala sa tawag na Magna Carta of Students noong panahon ni dating Pangulong Fidel Ramos ngunit hindi naisabatas dahil sa ilang mga probisyon.

Ang Magna Carta of Students ay muling binuhay noong 13th Congress at sa bagong bersyon ng panukalang batas na iniakda ni Rep. Edcel Lagman (House Bill No. 17), nakasaad sa chapter 4 section 16 ng nasabing house bill na may karapatang makialaman ang mga estudyante hinggil sa pagbabago ng tuition at ibang school fees sa mga colleges at universities sa pamamagitan ng School Fee Board.

Sa ganitong paraan, hindi maaring magtaas ng tuition fee ang mga eskuwelahan ng hindi nalalaman ng School Fee Board mula sa mga mag-aaral. At isa itong alternatibo at mabisang paraan upang mapigilan ang anumang pagtatangka sa pagtataas ng matrikula.

Magugunitang noong 8th Congress pa unang isinusulong sa Kamara ang Magna Carta of Students ngunit ibinasura ito ng mga kongresista. Muling binuhay ito noong 9th, 10th, 11th at 12th Congress ngunit hindi pa rin makalusot ang nasabing panukalang batas. At sa kasalukuyan nakabinbin pa rin sa Committee on Higher and Technical Education ang pinakahuling bersyon ng Magna Carta para sa mga mag-aaral.

Sa ipinalabas na ulat ng Commission on Higher Education (CHED) noong 2002-2003 academic year, mayroong 1,470 Higher Education Institutions kung saan 1,297 ang nasa private sectors. Samantala 111 naman ang nasa public state universities and colleges, 44 local SUCs, 5 special higher education para sa military science and national defense, 12 government school at 1 CHED-supervised post-secondary education institution.

Sayang ang mga pamantasan at unibersidad na ito kung walang mga estudyanteng papasok dahil sa hindi nila kayang matustusan ang kanilang pag-aaral.

Hinggil naman sa kalidad ng edukasyon sa Pilipinas, lubhang napakalayo ng agwat natin kumpara sa ibang bansa. Sa pinakahuling survey noong nakalipas na taon ng Times Higher Education Supplement (THES), isang pahayagan na nakabase sa London at ng Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), isang international education and career development group; ang University of the Philippines(UP) ay nasa 299th spot, sinundan ng De La Salle University (DLSU)na nasa 392th spot, pangatlo ang Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) na pang 484th spot at University of Santo Tomas (UST) na nasa pang 500th spot. Samantalata, nananatiling nasa 1st spot ang Havard University sa Estados Unidos.

Ang kailangan ng ating mga mag-aaral ay murang matrikula na may dekalidad na edukasyon tulad ng Estados Unidos at Europa at ang karapatang makisangkot sa lipunan bilang isang responsableng mamamayan.

Alam nating kayang ibigay ng gobyerno ang pangunahing pangangailangan para sa mga estudyante, ngunit kailan nila ito makakamtam?

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Lawyers, NUJP, CMFR file writ of habeas corpus at the Supreme Court for Adonis

PRESS RELEASE (With photo)

MAY 30, 2008

A petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus was filed today at the Supreme Court for jailed Davao broadcaster, Alexander “Lex” Adonis.

This, after the jail warden of the Davao Prisons and Penal Farm, formerly known as the Davao Penal Colony or Dapecol, refused to release him in spite of a court order.

Adonis has been detained at the said prison facility for more than a year now for libel which was filed against him by Davao Congressman and now House Speaker Prospero Nograles. According to court records, Adonis identified him in his radio commentaries as the man seen running naked at a Manila Hotel.

Lawyers Harry Roque and Rommel Bagares, who led the filing at the Supreme Court around 11:30 this morning, cited that since all efforts available at law have been exhausted, Adonis has no other “plain, speedy and adequate remedy  to protect is personal rights” other than this legal action.

On Monday afternoon, Judge George Omelio of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14 in Davao City issued an order directing the Davao Penal Colony chief to release Adonis after posting a P5,000 bail.

Davao journalists immediately trooped to the Dapecol that same afternoon bringing with them the court order in the hope of fetching Adonis. But Dapecol chief Venancio Tesoro refused to release Adonis, citing a pending case.

Journalists pointed out that the court order they were bringing that day was on that pending case which Tesoro mentioned.  The case was filed by Jeanette Leuterio which sprung from the same case filed by Nograles against Adonis.

Still, Tesoro refused, saying that he would have to refer the matter first to the “higher authority.”

The Dapecol is under the Bureau of Corrections headed by Director Oscar Calderon and is a line agency under the Department of Justice.

The petition at the Supreme Court this morning was co-signed by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, through Chairperson Jose Torres and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), through the Executive Director Melinda Quintos-De Jesus.

Named respondent is Supt. Venancio Tesoro, Director of the Davao Prisons and Penal Farm.

The petition cited that Adonis is “actually restrained of his liberty at the Dapecol by Supt. Tesoro without any valid legal reason.”

“Supt. Tesoro cannot arrogate unto himself the power to unilaterally declare that there is no legal ground to release Adonis from detention,” the petition cited.

It further said that Tesoro “cannot substitute his judgment for that of the Board of Pardons and Parole.”

The Board of Pardons and Parole issued a discharge order on Adonis dated December 11, 2007 on his imprisonment on the case filed by Speaker Nograles.

Furthermore, the petition cited that since such order has not been revoked nor amended, “it remains a beneficial grant that Adonis is entitled to enjoy.”

Other grounds for seeking the writ being invoked in the petition are the Supreme Court Circular No. 08-2008 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Supreme Court Circular seeks fines, instead of imprisonment for libel, while the ICCPR, which the Philippines is signatory, seeks protection of freedom of expression.

Atty. Harry Roque stressed that the petition was filed “for and in behalf of a functioning media in a democracy.”

Roque said that unless libel in the country is decriminalized, “the plight of Adonis will happen again and is likely to be used again, against press freedom.”

The NUJP Davao pledges to continue rallying behind Adonis since it considers the fight for Adonis as the fight to decriminalize libel in the country.

Adonis lawyers, NUJP files petition for writ of habeas corpus today

MEDIA ADVISORY
May 30, 2008

A petition for writ of habeas corpus will be filed at 11:30 am today, May 30, at the Supreme Court by Atty. Harry Roque and Atty. Rommel Bagares in behalf of Alexander Adonis, the Davao journalist currently detained in the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) despite posting a P5,000 bail early this week.

The petition is co-signed by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

The Dapecol warden, Supt. Benjo Tesoro, refused to release Adonis citing that there is still no order from “higher correctional authorities” for his release.  The Dapecol is under the Bureau of Corrections headed by Dir. Oscar Calderon and is a line agency under the Department of Justice.

NUJP has already called on DOJ Sec. Raul Gonzales to act on the immediate release of Adonis. As of this time, no reply has come from the justice department.

We invite you to please cover the event and support the call for Adonis immediate release.

For more details, please contact Mr. Angel Ayala (09208816375) or Karen Papellero (09163658510).

IFJ-NUJP Media Safety Office

Radio broadcaster still in jail despite posting bail

28 May 2008

PHILIPPINES


Reporters Without Borders today deplored the continued detention of radio broadcaster Alex Adonis, of dxMF Bombo Radyo, despite his posting of bail after the Davao regional court said he could be freed on this condition. He was sentenced last year to four and a half years in prison for “slandering” a member of parliament.

“Adonis must be released because imprisonment for defamation is a violation of freedom of expression and an attempt to intimidate journalists,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “His continued detention after the court ruling is an insult to the rule of law in the Philippines. The Supreme Court must order his release and defamation must be decriminalised.”

Adonis’ colleagues, who helped him post bail, went to Davao prison on 26 May hours after Davao regional court Judge George Omelio had ordered him released on bail of 73 euros. But prison governor Benjo Tesoro told them he would not be freed until “higher correctional authorities” had been officially informed.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called today on justice minister Raúl Gonzáles and national prisons chief Oscar Calderón (the “higher correctional authority” mentioned by Tesoro) to “rectify the error” that had “deprived Adonis of his constitutional rights.” The NUJP supported a request to the Supreme Court today by Adonis’ lawyer, Harry Roque, asking it to rule on the legality of the journalist’s continued imprisonment.

A complaint was filed jointly by Adonis, the NUJP and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) at the end of last month to the UN High Commission on Human Rights condemning the “criminal” nature of the country’s defamation law.

Lawyer Roque also asked for Adonis’ trial to be reviewed by the Davao regional court in the light of a Supreme Court memorandum on 25 January this year recommending that judges fine rather than imprison people for defamation.

Adonis was sentenced in his absence on 31 January last year for “slandering” MP Prospero Nograles, the speaker of parliament and an ally of President Gloria Arroyo, by saying he had been seen fleeing naked from a Manila hotel after being caught by his reported paramour’s husband. He was due for release on bail on 11 December last year after serving the minimum part of his sentence but remained in prison because of a new complaint filed against him by the woman mentioned in his commentaries.

Suspects Win Injunction in Case of Journalist’s Murder in Philippines

IFJ-ASIA
Media Release: Philippines
May 29, 2008

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) requests that courts in the Philippines, particularly the Court of Appeals, seek to ensure that the suspects in the murder of journalist Marlene Grace Esperat face trial.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, the Court of Appeals granted an injunction petition by the two suspects, agriculture officials Osmeña Montañer and Estrella Sabay, on May 14.

The injunction was reportedly granted on the basis of an administrative error in moving the hearing of the case from Tacurong City to Cebu City.

“There is cause for concern that the suspects, who are accused of gunning down Esperat in front of her family, may not be tried due to legal technicalities,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“It is deeply worrying that fewer than six of those responsible for the murders of 93 journalists or media workers in the Philippines since 1986 have been convicted.”

The IFJ joins the NUJP in calling on the courts to investigate the need for a review of the injunction in the Esperat case, as the hearing of the case is an important step in protecting the journalism community from further violent attacks.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

IFJ Calls on New Nepal Leaders to Respect and Commit to Press Freedom

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Media Release: Nepal
May 28, 2008


With the newly elected constituent assembly in Nepal due to meet today, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges all parties – and in particular the largest political grouping, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), – to explicitly commit to honouring all norms of media freedom in the new republican Nepal.

The IFJ continues to hold concerns about respect for the safety of journalists in Nepal after two incidents involving Maoist cadres in the run-up to the constituent assembly session.

According to reports from the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) an IFJ-affiliate, four Maoist party members entered the office of the Sudur Sandesh daily in Kailali, a town in the far-western region of the country and threatened the editor Hemanta Poudel.

The motivation for this attack was reported to be an act of retaliation for a news item published by Poudel on May 23 and an editorial published on May 25 that suggested corruption and illegal dealing by prominent Maoist figures.

In a separate incident in the same town, Lucky Chaudhari, the editor and publisher of Hamar Pahura daily was attacked by the Maoist-affiliated wing Young Communist League (YCL) on May 28. He suffered minor injuries.

The FNJ has identified the YCL cadres responsible and called for action against them. The newspaper’s “offence” was again to report on alleged illegal activities that the Maoist cadres were involved in.

The IFJ joins the FNJ in denouncing these incidents and calling on political activists and members of the general public to follow institutionalised modes of complaint and grievance resolution in matters involving the media.

“Journalists have a significant role to play in disseminating news about Nepal’s new political leadership, including all allegations of corruption and illegal operations, to the wider public,” said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

“We urge the constituent assembly to set the example by reiterating their commitment to all the principles of media freedom and journalists’ safety that were adopted unanimously by the provisional parliament last year.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

Release Adonis, decriminalize libel now

Statement
May 27, 2008

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines expresses grave concern over the continued incarceration of broadcaster Alexander Adonis at the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) despite a court order for his release on bail.

Each day that Adonis remains behind bars in defiance of the court order for his release is a grave miscarriage of justice. That this injustice is committed by an officer of the state who is supposed to protect the rights of the citizenry makes it an anomaly.

Judge George Omelio of the Davao RTC Branch 14 issued a release order for Adonis on Monday after he posted a P5,000 bail.

Adonis was convicted on libel charges filed by Speaker Prospero Nograles who the broadcaster had named in a series of commentaries as the man who allegedly ran naked from a Manila hotel after he was caught by his reported paramour’s husband.

Although Adonis was up for discharge on parole in December, he was not released because of a second libel case filed this time by the woman mentioned in his commentaries.

Colleagues of Adonis, who had helped post his P5,000 bail and secure the release order, went to Dapecol to fetch him on Monday but were told by Superintendent Benjo Tesoro, Dapecol’s warden, that the broadcaster could not be freed until “higher correctional authorities” are informed.

We call on Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and on Bureau of Corrections Director Oscar Calderon – the “higher correctional authorities” Tesoro invoked – to immediately right this wrong that has deprived our colleague of his constitutionally guaranteed liberty.

We also demand that Gonzalez review and revise or revoke any rules such as those invoked by Tesoro that allow, wittingly or unwittingly, the commission of injustice because of bureaucratic red tape.

We will support the petition of habeas corpus to be filed by Adonis’ lawyer, Harry Roque, before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

While we welcome the granting of bail to Adonis and his impending release, the NUJP maintains its call for the decriminalization of libel.

We again challenge Congress to correct a generations-old injustice, not only on the Philippine press but on the people as a whole, and do away with criminal libel foisted on us by colonizers to silence dissent and which has continued to be used as a weapon by powerful wrongdoers to muzzle the press. #

References:
Jose Torres Jr., Chair
Rowena Paraan, Secretary-General