Dear fellow students of the law,


Last Sunday, 25 January 2009, members of the Law Student Government Executive Board, General Assembly and Electoral and Judicial Tribunal met for the last time to finalize amendments to the current Law Student Government (approved in 2005). The amendments have been in the offing for the past two years, propelled by the need to have a more efficient representation, to address loopholes in the law, and to meet contingencies, such as the impending de-blocking next year.


We are proposing major changes for your consideration:


2005 Law Student Government Constitution

2009 Law Students' Constitution

LSG is composed of three bodies:


EXECUTIVE BOARD – duly elected representatives (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer and College Rep to the University Student Council)


GENERAL ASSEMBLY – composed of the heads of the 19 blocks in the college; decides matters of policy


ELECTORAL & JUDICIAL TRIBUNAL – oversees the conduct of elections and impeachment proceedings



LSG will be composed of only two bodies:


CENTRAL BOARD – duly elected representatives (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer, College Rep to the University Student Council, 2 reps from each of the year levels and 2 reps from the evening blocks) who will now exercise both executive and legislative functions


ELECTORAL & JUDICIAL TRIBUNAL – composed of fifteen (15) commissioners (transitionally 7), chosen mainly on the basis of character and competence to serve as overseers of elections and impeachment proceedings and decide other actual controversies with regard to the Constitution

In addition:


ORGANIZATIONAL AFFAIRS BOARD – Constitutional body composed of representatives of different organizations in the college


ACADEMIC REFORMS COMMITTEE – standing committee under the Executive Board tasked to propose changes in the curriculum


NATIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE – standing committee under the Executive Board whose main objective is to develop social awareness and public responsibility among students of the college

In addition:


BAR OPERATIONS COMMISSION – now a Constitutional commission which will no longer be headed by the Vice President but will be led by a Commissioner appointed by the President at the end of the first semester.


ACADEMIC REFORMS COMMISSION – now a Constitutional commission which will serve as the students' voice in the formulation and implementation of academic and administrative policies and regulations




The NATIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, now the PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, will be under the Vice President.


Why the changes?


1.       From GA to Year Level Representatives: Merging of the functions of GA and EB in the Central Board

a.       In view of the impending de-blocking next year, it will be very difficult to constitute the General Assembly. Hence, in place of block representatives, we will be electing two representatives from first year to fourth year with the evening sections entitled to their own two representatives.

b.      The proposed structure will be more efficient and effective since it will mean more people helping out in the activities of the Central Board. At the same time, coordination will be faster since the year level representatives are part of the Central Board. This will balance the need to consult students without sacrificing the timeliness and speed by which consultations must be done.

c.       Since the year level representatives are elected, they will be accountable to the electorate and will be subject to impeachment should they fail to perform their functions, unlike in the present GA where no sanctions could be imposed on block presidents who do not attend meetings.


2.       Composition of the EJT

The EJT, being an independent, non-representative body, will no longer be composed of representatives from the different blocks. The fifteen (15) commissioners will be selected from EJT's roster of volunteers on the basis of character and competence, and will continue to serve as such as long as they remain qualified. To ensure its independence, in no case shall a majority of the members at any given time belong to the same student organization, fraternity or sorority.


3.       The Law Representative

a.       The Law Representative may be a creature of the USC Constitution but we are giving him ex-officio membership in our Central Board so that he will be bound by the decisions of the board when he votes in the USC.

b.      However, we are subjecting him to the impositions of our Constitution and we maintain that violations of the terms of our Constitution will merit disciplinary measures therein provided.

c.       We further maintain that removal of the Law Rep for grounds under our Constitution effectively deprives him  of the right to hold office as Law Rep regardless of what the USC Constitution says. His mandate comes from this College and as such, this college can relinquish such bestowed mandate.


4.       The Independence of the Bar Operations Commission

Under the current Constitution, the elected Vice President becomes Bar Operations Head. Since elections are not held until February, this means that preparations for the Bar will only start late February or early March. There is a need to hasten the process from October to February. Hence, under the proposed Constitution, the LSG President will now be given the power to appoint a Bar Operations Commissioner at the end of the first semester on the basis of a shortlist prepared by the Bar Operations Commissioner with the concurrence of the graduating class. This will:

a.       Ensure that preparations for the Bar Exams will start early

b.      Bar Operations Commissioner will be elected but will come from the volunteers, who are presumed to be familiar with the system and who will earn the post on the basis of competence and merit.

c.       The required concurrence of the graduating class will give them more power as to their choice of Bar Operations Commissioner.


The foregoing is just a summary of the proposed changes to the Constitution. Please take time to read the present and the proposed Constitution attached below.


Why vote?


We cannot overemphasize the importance of ratifying the new Law Students' Constitution. As the very title of the text suggests, this is OUR Constitution, the very document that will govern our student representation in this college. Faced with an almost certain de-blocking next year, we must make sure that our Constitution is flexible enough to meet the exigencies of the times, whether or not this development will indeed push through. (Now whether or not we are in favor of the de-blocking is a different matter altogether. For that, we will have to consolidate our stand in the coming days, even as the Dean claims it is the college administration's prerogative.)


This is also our chance to introduce improvements in the Law Student Government to make it a more relevant, effective, efficient and representative institution, responsive to the needs of its constituents.


With that said, please VOTE in the upcoming plebiscite, MONDAY to WEDNESDAY next week, FEBRUARY 2-4, 2009, at the STUDENT LOUNGE.


Voting schedule is as follows:


February 2, 2009, MONDAY:                       10am to 6pm

February 3, 2009, TUESDAY:                        10am to 6pm

February 4, 2009, WEDNESDAY:                10am to 9pm


Should you have problems with the schedule, please inform us so we can ask the EJT to adjust the time.


Thank you. We look forward to your full participation. Feel free to forward and repost this message.


In the service of the students,


Law Student Government Executive Board 08-09

Michael Jobert I. Navallo
President, Law Student Government
University of the Philippines College of Law
Mobile: +639279704899 / +639233330885
Landline: 410-0137
E-mail: jobertn@gmail.com


what your name means

got this from: http://www.paulsadowski.com/NameData.asp

i don't believe in numerology but i just got curious. funny some are true, but the thing about me liking business just doesn't seem to fit. the business page is the only section in the newspaper i don't read. hence, i think i will have a hard time in commercial law come bar exams. lagot!

You entered: michael jobert iral navallo

There are 24 letters in your name.
Those 24 letters total to 103
There are 10 vowels and 14 consonants in your name.

What your first name means:

ShakespeareanMale'King Henry IV, Part 1' Sir Michael, a friend to the Archbishop of York. 'Henry VI, Part 2' Michael and his company are followers of Jack Cade, a rebel.
HebrewMaleWho is like God? Gift from God. In the Bible, St. Michael was the conqueror of Satan and patron saint of soldiers.
BiblicalMalePoor; humble

Your number is: 4

The characteristics of #4 are: A foundation, order, service, struggle against limits, steady growth.

The expression or destiny for #4:
Order, service, and management are the cornerstones of the number 4 Expression. Your destiny is to express wonderful organization skills with your ever practical, down-to-earth approach. You are the kind of person who is always willing to work those long, hard hours to push a project through to completion. A patience with detail allows you to become expert in fields such as building, engineering, and all forms of craftsmanship. Your abilities to write and teach may lean toward the more technical and detailed. In the arts, music will likely be your choice. Artistic talents may also appear in such fields as horticulture and floral arrangement, as well. Many skilled physicians and especially surgeons have the 4 Expression.

The positive attitudes of the 4 Expression yield responsibility; you are one who no doubt, fulfills obligations, and is highly systematic and orderly. You are serious and sincere, honest and faithful. It is your role to help and you are required to do a good job at everything you undertake.

If there is too much 4 energies present in your makeup, you may express some of the negative attitudes of the number 4. The obligations that you face may tend to create frustration and feelings of limitation or restriction. You may sometimes find yourself nursing negative attitudes in this regard and these can keep you in a rather low mood. Avoid becoming too rigid, stubborn, dogmatic, and fixed in your opinions. You may have a tendency to develop and hold very strong likes and dislikes, and some of these may border on the classification of prejudice. The negative side of 4 often produces dominant and bossy individuals who use disciplinarian to an excess. These tendencies must be avoided. Finally, like nearly all with 4 Expression, you must keep your eye on the big picture and not get overly wrapped up in detail and routine.

Your Soul Urge number is: 8

A Soul Urge number of 8 means:
With an 8 soul urge, you have a natural flair for big business and the challenges imposed by the commercial world. Power, status and success are very important to you. You have strong urges to supervise, organize and lead. Material desires are also very pronounced. You have good executive abilities, and with these, confidence, energy and ambition.

Your mind is analytical and judgment sound; you're a good judge of material values and also human character. Self-controlled, you rarely let emotions cloud judgment. You are somewhat of an organizer at heart, and you like to keep those beneath you organized and on a proper track. This is a personality that wants to lead, not follow. You want to be known for your planning ability and solid judgment.

The negative aspects of the 8 soul urge are the often dominating and exacting attitude. You may have a tendency to be very rigid, sometimes stubborn.

Your Inner Dream number is: 5

An Inner Dream number of 5 means:
You dream of being totally free and unrestrained by responsibility. You see yourself conversing and mingling with the natives in many nations, living for adventure and life experiences. You imagine what you might accomplished.


And Then They Came For Me

The text below was written by a Sri Lankan editor shortly before his assassination in Colombo on January 8 and was published posthumously. Lasantha Wickrematunga, editor of the The Sunday Leader, was an outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan government whose president, incidentally, is his close friend. Inspiring tale about friendship, patriotism and selflessness.

This article strikes me not only because the author knew death was forthcoming, but also because Wickrematunga was a lawyer who chose to be a journalist. He knew he could have lived a far better life had he chosen to practice law but he was brave enough to make the choice.

I read this at a time of recruitment dinners with big firms. I attended one last night; two more are coming. Despite promises of excellent training, big bucks and a bright career ahead, I'm tempted to just run away from all of these, start all over again and do something which I could be passionate about, something I don't consider work because I actually enjoy doing it Crazy decision, especially when graduation is just three months away and getting invited to recruitment dinners is something only law students can dream about.

Reading this only reinforces that state of confusion in my mind, which my blockmates call 'na-jo-jobert.' I've been in this mode for the past four years. Unlike Lasantha however, I'm not brave enough to make the choice. And that's the tragedy of my life.

And then they came for me” by Lasantha Wickrematunga

No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader’s 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.

Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.

The Sunday Leader has been a controversial newspaper because we say it like we see it: whether it be a spade, a thief or a murderer, we call it by that name. We do not hide behind euphemism. The investigative articles we print are supported by documentary evidence thanks to the public-spiritedness of citizens who at great risk to themselves pass on this material to us. We have exposed scandal after scandal, and never once in these 15 years has anyone proved us wrong or successfully prosecuted us.

The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves. That is our calling, and we do not shirk it.

Every newspaper has its angle, and we do not hide the fact that we have ours. Our commitment is to see Sri Lanka as a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words, for they each has profound meaning. Transparent because government must be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours, secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united. Liberal because we recognise that all human beings are created different, and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like them to be. And democratic… well, if you need me to explain why that is important, you’d best stop buying this paper.

The Sunday Leader has never sought safety by unquestioningly articulating the majority view. Let’s face it, that is the way to sell newspapers. On the contrary, as our opinion pieces over the years amply demonstrate, we often voice ideas that many people find distasteful. For example, we have consistently espoused the view that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to address the root causes of terrorism, and urged government to view Sri Lanka’s ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens. For these views we have been labelled traitors, and if this be treachery, we wear that label proudly.

Many people suspect that The Sunday Leader has a political agenda: it does not. If we appear more critical of the government than of the opposition it is only because we believe that - pray excuse cricketing argot - there is no point in bowling to the fielding side. Remember that for the few years of our existence in which the UNP was in office, we proved to be the biggest thorn in its flesh, exposing excess and corruption wherever it occurred. Indeed, the steady stream of embarrassing exposés we published may well have served to precipitate the downfall of that government.

Neither should our distaste for the war be interpreted to mean that we support the Tigers. The LTTE are among the most ruthless and bloodthirsty organisations ever to have infested the planet. There is no gainsaying that it must be eradicated. But to do so by violating the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting them mercilessly, is not only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be custodians of the dhamma is forever called into question by this savagery, much of which is unknown to the public because of censorship.

What is more, a military occupation of the country’s north and east will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all self respect. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showering “development” and “reconstruction” on them in the post-war era. The wounds of war will scar them forever, and you will also have an even more bitter and hateful Diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a political solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield strife for all eternity. If I seem angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my countrymen - and all of the government - cannot see this writing so plainly on the wall.

It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government’s sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended. In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.

The irony in this is that, unknown to most of the public, Mahinda and I have been friends for more than a quarter century. Indeed, I suspect that I am one of the few people remaining who routinely addresses him by his first name and uses the familiar Sinhala address oya when talking to him. Although I do not attend the meetings he periodically holds for newspaper editors, hardly a month passes when we do not meet, privately or with a few close friends present, late at night at President’s House. There we swap yarns, discuss politics and joke about the good old days. A few remarks to him would therefore be in order here.

Mahinda, when you finally fought your way to the SLFP presidential nomination in 2005, nowhere were you welcomed more warmly than in this column. Indeed, we broke with a decade of tradition by referring to you throughout by your first name. So well known were your commitments to human rights and liberal values that we ushered you in like a breath of fresh air. Then, through an act of folly, you got yourself involved in the Helping Hambantota scandal. It was after a lot of soul-searching that we broke the story, at the same time urging you to return the money. By the time you did so several weeks later, a great blow had been struck to your reputation. It is one you are still trying to live down.

You have told me yourself that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do not themselves have a father.

In the wake of my death I know you will make all the usual sanctimonious noises and call upon the police to hold a swift and thorough inquiry. But like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too. For truth be told, we both know who will be behind my death, but dare not call his name. Not just my life, but yours too, depends on it.

Sadly, for all the dreams you had for our country in your younger days, in just three years you have reduced it to rubble. In the name of patriotism you have trampled on human rights, nurtured unbridled corruption and squandered public money like no other President before you. Indeed, your conduct has been like a small child suddenly let loose in a toyshop. That analogy is perhaps inapt because no child could have caused so much blood to be spilled on this land as you have, or trampled on the rights of its citizens as you do. Although you are now so drunk with power that you cannot see it, you will come to regret your sons having so rich an inheritance of blood. It can only bring tragedy. As for me, it is with a clear conscience that I go to meet my Maker. I wish, when your time finally comes, you could do the same. I wish.

As for me, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I walked tall and bowed to no man. And I have not travelled this journey alone. Fellow journalists in other branches of the media walked with me: most of them are now dead, imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands. Others walk in the shadow of death that your Presidency has cast on the freedoms for which you once fought so hard. You will never be allowed to forget that my death took place under your watch. As anguished as I know you will be, I also know that you will have no choice but to protect my killers: you will see to it that the guilty one is never convicted. You have no choice. I feel sorry for you, and Shiranthi will have a long time to spend on her knees when next she goes for Confession for it is not just her owns sins which she must confess, but those of her extended family that keeps you in office.

As for the readers of The Sunday Leader, what can I say but Thank You for supporting our mission. We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I - and my family - have now paid the price that I have long known I will one day have to pay. I am - and have always been - ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remains to be written is when.

That The Sunday Leader will continue fighting the good fight, too, is written. For I did not fight this fight alone. Many more of us have to be - and will be - killed before The Leader is laid to rest. I hope my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts. Indeed, I hope that it will help galvanise forces that will usher in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will open the eyes of your President to the fact that however many are slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and flourish. Not all the Rajapakses combined can kill that.

People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted. An example that has inspired me throughout my career in journalism has been that of the German theologian, Martin Niemöller. In his youth he was an anti-Semite and an admirer of Hitler. As Nazism took hold in Germany, however, he saw Nazism for what it was: it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niemöller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While incarcerated, Niemöller wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists

and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left to speak out for me.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.



In a statement released last week by the student council of the UPD College of Mass Communication (CMC-SC), it was said that:

“Also, these colleges with amendments were asked to show the body the quantitative and qualitative data of the consultations they said to have made. As transparency was requested, they refused to show any data. A representative of the Law Student Government even admitted they did not hold consultations with the students of the said college, citing constraints in schedule. We ask: if these amendments did not come from a consensus from the students, how can democracy be ensured, then.”

We feel that we need to respond to this and clarify the matter as there are insinuations of non-transparency and non-consultation. We do this not for the benefit of the CMC-SC (because we owe it no explanation), but for the benefit of our constituents in the College of Law.

First. There is no single way of conducting a consultation. Given the block system in our college, it has always been customary practice for the LSG EB to conduct its consultations through the General Assembly of Representatives (GA)—a body composed of block presidents—and for the latter to present its concerns to the former, simply because this symbiosis has proven to be most efficient and expedient.

Last December, the LSG conducted its consultation by circulating a primer on the Office of the Student Regent (OSR) and Codified Rules on Student Regent Selection (CRSRS) prepared by the Law Representative, as well as the primer and open letter released by the incumbent Student Regent. The GA representatives were then asked to discuss the matter with their respective blocks and to submit to the EB any proposal that they may have to amend the CRSRS of 2007. None of the blocks were able to submit any proposal, so when we reported to the SR, we specifically indicated that there were no direct proposals from the blocks, but there were proposals coming from the EB itself. There is nothing unusual about this. As an EB, we are authorized under the LSG Constitution to represent the students in all matters affecting student rights and welfare. And as students, we, too, have a right to suggest rules that would eventually govern the selection of our student regent.

It is true that the EB was unable to conduct room-to-room (RTR) discussions, as it had originally planned, because of constraints in time and our individual schedules. But as pointed out above, our standard consultation practice has always been through the GA. Whether or not such will be supplemented with RTR discussions is discretionary. Even so, the LSG Secretary did notify the GA representatives that members of the EB would be willing to discuss the issue/s further in their classes should their blocks request us to do so.

No student council has a monopoly on the best way to consult its constituents. And if our own constituents point out the flaws in the way our consultation was done, we will acknowledge them and consider alternative ways to consult. But it is not for one student council to dismiss the efforts of another simply because of differences in method. Invoking the presumption of regularity is not a tactic to evade transparency; it is a presumption born out of respect for and a belief, in good faith, that each council conducted its consultations as sincerely as it could.

Second. “Consensus” and “majority” are not preconditions to a valid proposal of an amendment to the CRSRS. The CMC-SC asks, “if these amendments did not come from a consensus from the students, how can democracy be ensured, then.” Without even going into why democracy is not synonymous with consensus, we wish to point out that this question proceeds from a false premise: i.e., that an amendment must be proposed by a majority before it can be considered by the LSG, or by the GASC. Nowhere in our history, not even in the CRSRS of 2007, is there such a requirement. Please note that there is a difference between a proposal and its resolution. The former does not require a majority or any number for it to be validly made, but the latter does, which is why we have voting requirements whenever we hold the GASC. Deliberative bodies like Congress, and boards of both public and private corporations, do not require majority of its members to propose a matter before they deliberate upon it.

Third. Assuming without conceding that the amendments we proposed are “invalid” for having been “invalidly” done, there are still valid proposals from other student councils, other students. Including the proposals in the referendum is not equivalent to passing upon its merits, because that is precisely what the students will be deciding for themselves on January 26-29. Our point was simply to subject ALL the proposals, including the CRSRS of 2007, to the students’ vote. Thus, we suggested that the phrasing of the question be: "Which proposal do you think should govern the selection of the next SR?", and that the answers be "Proposal A (CRSRS of 2007), Proposal B (CRSRS of 2007, as amended by Student Council X), Proposal C (CRSRS of 2007, as amended by Student Council Y), Proposal D (CRSRS of 2007, as amended by Student Council Z)..." and so on. There are other ways to present the question, but it is clear that the referendum question, as it is currently worded, is oversimplified.

Obviously, a broader phrasing of the question would not foreclose the possibility of the CRSRS of 2007 being ratified through and through; thus, this should even be seen by its proponents as a chance to be vindicated.

To “unite” and ensure the approval of the CRSRS of 2007 now and to push for amendments later, may sound like a good compromise, but it is unlikely to happen. Because assuming the referendum (with its current phrasing of the question) does proceed and it succeeds, would it not be disrespectful for the GASC to immediately amend a set of rules that has been ratified by majority of the UP students?

We do not see how an expansion of the referendum question can threaten the OSR. The point is to have alternatives presented to the student body so that the Office may be strengthened and be made more credible. If there is anything we all agree on, it is that conducting a referendum is logistically and financially taxing. But since we have resolved to “rise to the challenge”, we must make sure that our undertaking is properly done. Why insist on taking short cuts when we already have the chance to maximize direct student participation?

Clearly, the danger of a failed referendum comes from the narrow and oversimplified phrasing of the question. By limiting the answer to a YES or NO, the issue has been severely slanted to appear as either an affirmation or rejection of the OSR, when the question does not even have to be answerable by a mere yes/no to begin with. A vote of yes/no only amounts to approving/disapproving the CRSRS of 2007, and not the OSR itself, because the law and jurisprudence provide for mechanisms to ensure that the OSR will not be vacant. Thus, it is patently dishonest to claim that if the CRSRS is not approved, we will have no SR, or that we will be at the mercy of a Malacañang appointee (see Referendum FAQs).

All these limiting of choices, the silencing of the minority, remind us of the dictum of an extremely conservative, right-wing leader—that “there is no alternative”.

But there are alternatives, and we call on our SR to allow us some options. There is no better way to ensure the failure of a referendum than by pushing a reasonable electorate up against a wall.

- The Executive Board, UP Law Student Government 2008-2009

15 January 2008



To the Memorandum of Student Regent Shahana Abdulwahid

dated 9 January 2009

We, the undersigned students, student organizations, and student councils, write this letter in protest to and as an appeal from the decision of Student Regent (SR) Shahana Abdulwahid released last 30 December 2008, limiting the referendum question only to the following:

"Do you approve of the existing Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS) as rules and qualifications to govern the selection of our student representative to the UP Board of Regents? YES or NO"

We submit that such a decision is an affront to elementary concepts of democratic consultation and maximum student participation. Considering that the subject of the referendum are no less than the rules and qualifications of the SR, it is highly questionable why the referendum question is oversimplified in its present form, when there are other existing proposals that have yet to be discussed head on in the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC). For example, the following proposals have been recommended and supported by a considerable number of student councils:

1. The inclusion of a minimum academic requirement as a qualification for nomination as SR;

2. The inclusion of an express enumeration of powers and responsibilities of the SR;

3. The democratization of the voting structure of the SR to take into account the relative sizes of the units without sacrificing the interests of smaller UP units;

4. The de-politicization of the SR selection process by deleting in the rules the KASAMA sa UP, a political alliance composed of several student councils; and

5. The rationalization of the selection process by extending the effectivity of the rules to at least 3 years, instead of the current system of annual amendment.

Because of the SR’s decision, the above proposals will not be open for discussion, debate, and ultimately, the vote of the students in the referendum. In effect, the students will be asked to approve or disapprove a set of rules which, in most likelihood, they have not even read in full. For all intents and purposes, the referendum process will only be reduced to a rubber stamp for the status quo, all because the above questions of policy will not be passed on to the students for their scrutiny.

Thus, we appeal to the SR’s better sense of judgment to include the above policy determinations in the referendum ballot. We trust that the SR will recognize and honor the growing call from students for informed and meaningful participation in the SR rules referendum.

In the interest of maximum student participation, we call on the SR, in the sternest manner possible, to let the UP students decide.

Democratize the SR Selection process

In her memorandum, the SR supposed that our “main and urgent task” is to have the CRSRS placed in a referendum. However, we respectfully disagree. It is not our task to simply ratify the CRSRS. More significantly, we are duty-bound to ensure that the process for selection of the SR is most representative of students’ values, and is one done in a most democratic manner. What better way to determine this than to ask the students directly what they want?

We believe it is only in this way can we forge and instill in every UP student a close sense of familiarity with, affinity to, and ownership of the Office of the SR.

Much to our disappointment, proposals to amend the existing CRSRS were only “duly noted but not deliberated on” in the December 19 General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) allegedly because the meeting was “not the proper venue to deliberate on those proposals.” The SR would like us to posit that the meeting was “set purposely to discuss and deliberate on the conduct of the SR Referendum.”

However we ask: how is it logically possible to discuss the conduct or procedure of the referendum when the actual substance of the rules to be subjected to the referendum itself is not settled first? Is it not reasonable that before we discuss how the referendum is held, we should initially deliberate what to ask the students in the referendum?

But since there was neither deliberation nor voting in the GASC, the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS), the status quo rules, cannot be used in the referendum without honoring the results of earnest consultation efforts resulting in proposed improvements to the rules.

Consultation results must be given due respect

In the GASC it was saddening that the consultation reports and proposals by different student councils were decimated to mere recommendations to the SR.

We respectfully manifest to the SR that there is no sincerer way appreciating the diligent efforts of the student councils who conducted massive and comprehensive consultations through convocations, organizations hopping, room-to-room discussions, surveys, etc. than to make sure that their recommendations will be deliberated on in the body which they were made to believe to be the proper venue for them.

But because the GASC, the highest student council institution under the new UP Charter, was hindered from deciding on the proposals of the student councils, it is but prudent to leave it to the student population itself to decide what they want the SR to be and how they want he or she to be chosen. In force and effect, the soundness and necessity of the proposed amendments ultimately fell on the lap of the students themselves when the student leaders in the GASC were not able to decide on it.

The SR cannot arrogate unto herself this highly delicate power when in the very first place, the opportunity for deliberative discussion with all the student councils, i.e. the December 19 GASC, was available to her.

While we may be able to strip the student leaders of the opportunity to discuss and decide on these proposals, as we have done today, we could never, in conscience, take this basic right away from the students.

Current rules urgently need review

The CRSRS, since it was first adopted in 1997 has had its share of criticisms, and now even the SR “acknowledge[s] that there is indeed a need to review the CRSRS.” To say the least, student leaders for the past decade have been in disagreement as to its provisions. Thus, the referendum comes as a welcome opportunity for student representatives to stop arguing and start asking their constituents—those who they seek to represent—what they want in their student regent.

There is no evil in asking directly what the students want. In fact, we submit that it is the highest form of democracy. Students, nay, UP students are no doubt ready for such a harrowing test of intellect. No amount of maneuvering or quibbling as to logistical or financial difficulty can trump any attempt to obstruct their exercise of their supreme right.

Triumph of technicalities

We appeal the SR not to allow a feeble resort to technicalities of procedure triumph over essential democratic rights.

The UP Charter was passed into law on 29 April 2008. The SR sought the legal opinion of Vice President for Legal Affairs Atty. Theodore Te on September as to the effects of the referendum requirement in the UP Charter. From that time hence, when asked by student councils about when and where the GASC would be, the SR answered that she was still waiting for the legal opinion. The student councils were clearly at a loss, and were under the SR’s sole mercy as to how to proceed.

Direction only came on 7 November 2008 when the SR issued a memorandum enjoining that student councils to conduct consultations as to the SR rules and submit comprehensive reports of such efforts. The student councils nevertheless obliged and submitted to the SR the result of their consultation drives. Only to be surprised in the GASC where voices were silenced by the amplified twaddle of technicalities.

The SR cannot blame, and therefore hold accountable, the student councils for supposing that the December 19 GASC was the proper and only venue in which their proposals would be tackled and discussed. Nowhere in the 7 November and also in the 2 December Memoranda of the SR did she mention that the 19 December GASC would be a special one. Nowhere in the CRSRS or the above memoranda was it mentioned that a special GASC does not have the power to decide on, or even discuss recommendations. The SR’s reliance on Robert’s Rules of Parliamentary Proceedings as to the effect of a special meeting is patently misplaced and uncalled for when the student councils do not even know that there is such a thing as a special GASC.

As guidance to the student councils, the SR should have categorically informed them of the true nature (regular or irregular or special, and its effects) of the December 19 GASC rather than leaving them in the dark. Their reliance in good faith on the SR’s ambiguous representations that the recommendations will be tackled in GASC is enough reason for her to give ample way for deliberation on the amendments.

Moreover, the SR cannot logically and in good faith invoke the 1 October deadline under the CRSRS for proposing amendments. First, the enactment of the UP Charter effectively ended the effectivity of the CRSRS in governing the selection of the student regent. As thus, until such time the said rule is subjected to a referendum, it cannot be used as a basis for imposing an October 1 deadline.

Even assuming that the CRSRS was still binding, the SR’s own actions preclude her from raising the aforementioned deadline. For one, she only posted the CRSRS in the upsc_osr e-group (the SR on-line information dissemination arm) on 3 October 2008, two (2) days later than the deadline. For another, she did not issue a memorandum reminding the student councils of the 1 October deadline, as was customarily done by all previous SRs. And lastly, even the SR herself was unsure of the next step absent the legal opinion of the VP for Legal Affairs. In fact, in her September 19, 2008 memorandum, the Student Regent’s only directive, despite the apparent confusion caused by the law, was to “please stand by for further details;” thus, she could not have reasonably expected the student councils to know more about how to proceed any more than she did.

Critical analysis, collective action, active promotion of students’ rights and welfare—these are what UP students and their leaders are known for through the years. Heedless resort to technicalities has never been one of these defining characteristics.

To reiterate, it becomes clear that the SR could not and should not allow the SCs to be bound by mere technicalities when what is at stake is the substantive right of the students to a democratically chosen representative in the BOR.

Indeed, the polestar of this protest and appeal is the high ideal of basic democracy.

In times when our national leadership is consistently oblivious to the true expression of our people’s aspirations, and when the powers-that-be continue to dominate and mute worthy dissent, there is all the more gripping reason for student leaders in the University of the Philippines, to want to know what the students specifically want in their SR.

Our call—let the students decide

In this referendum, we dare to ask the students to decide for themselves.

We call on the Student Regent to include in the ballot the proposals submitted by various student councils as alternative questions.

We have attached here a copy of the questions that would be subjected in the referendum. We strongly believe that these questions as formed would promote maximum democracy in the selection of our next SR.

We likewise demand that the student regent halt the growing misapprehension that a “no to the CRSRS” is a “no to the OSR.” This campaign borders on misrepresentation and fraud, and would likely result in more divisiveness. The Student Regent, through her consultations with the UP legal office, knows that as a public officer, a failure to appoint or elect the next student regent will result only in a hold-over of the incumbent.

More than a decade of a status quo that is largely unchecked by the students in the exercise of their primary right to be heard through their vote is simply enough. We should welcome, and not repel, the referendum as an opportunity to hear out the students in its purest, and henceforth most compelling, form.

For if we believe otherwise, if we foreclose, actively or even by omission, the opportunity for students to decide and determine delicate questions of policy, then the Office of the Student Regent is surely in need of defense—not from the state, the UP administration or any one else, but from our very own selves.


Third Bagro, Chairperson*,
UP Diliman University Student Council (UPD USC)

Jan Robert Go, Chairperson*,
UP Manila University Student Council (UPM USC)

Nasvin Del Rosario, Chairperson*,
UP Visayas Cebu College Student Council (UPV CC SC)

Helena Garcia, Chairperson*,
UP Extension Program in Pampanga Student Council (UPEPP SC)

Rafael Usa, Jr., Chairperson,
UP Visayas Tacloban College Student Council (UPV TC SC)

Jobert Navallo, President,
UPD Law Student Government (UPD LSG)

Maria Christina Langit, Chairperson,
UPM College of Medicine Student Council (UPM Med SC)

Jamie Pring, Chairperson,
UPD College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (UPD CSSP SC)

Christopher Yu, Chairperson,
UPD College of Science Student Council (UPD CS SC)

Iris Siy, Chairperson*,
UPD College of Home Economics Student Council (UPD CHE SC)

Sean Su, Chairperson*,
UPD College of Architecture Student Council (UPD Archi SC)

Juan Antonio Maningat, Chairperson*,
UPD School of Statistics Student Council (UPD SSSC)

Bernica Marquez, Chairperson,
UPD College of Business Administration Student Council (UPD CBA SC)

Noel Ricardo Reyes, Chairperson,
UPD School of Economics Student Council (UPD SE SC)

John Almeda, Chairperson,
UPD Asian Institute of Tourism Student Council (UPD AIT SC)

Sheila Mae Sabalburo, Chairperson,
UPD National College of Public Administration and Governance Student Council (UPD NCPAG SC)

Kriska Tayag, Chairperson,
UPD College Music Student Council (UPD CM SC)

McRhonald Banderlipe, Chairperson*,
UPD School of Labor and Industrial Relations Student Council (UPD SOLAIR SC)

Sophia Monica V. San Luis, Law Representative*
UP Diliman University Student Council (UPD USC)

UPD Law Student Government (UP LSG)

UPM College of Medicine Student Council (UPM Med SC)

UPD College of Engineering Student Council (UPD ESC)

UPD College Music Student Council (UPD CM SC)

UPD College of Business Administration Student Council (UPD CBA SC)

UPD School of Economics Student Council (UPD SE SC)

UPD Asian Institute of Tourism Student Council (UPD AIT SC)

UPD National College of Public Administration and Governance Student Council (UPD NCPAG SC)

UPD College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council (UPD CSSP SC)

* Signed in their personal capacity as such