“This is not only unreasonable but also more stringent than what the constitution demands for a presidential candidate. It is hypocritical even, for a country with a president who does not hold a college degree, and an education secretary who lacks a background in education.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) criticized the Commission on Higher Education’s (Ched) warning to delist the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) from the list of local universities and colleges (LUCs) benefitting from the Universal Access to Tertiary Quality Education Act of 2017 or RA 10931.
This after Ched revoked the university’s exemption from complying with the institutional recognition requirement. Ched said that PLM President Emmanuel Leyco failed to meet the requirements under Ched memorandum circular no. 18 series of 2022, which requires university presidents to have a doctoral degree.
ACT called Ched’s move as unreasonable and an elitist precondition.
“The free education of about 19,000 students of the PLM is now held hostage by Ched,” the group said in a statement.
Last Aug. 15, the Commission informed PLM administration of its resolution, saying that the commission en banc has approved the revocation of PLM’s exclusion from compliance with institutional recognition and giving them 15 days from receipt of the letter to comply with CMO 18 series of 2022. If the university failed to comply, according to Ched, they will recommend to the Unified Student Financial Assistance System or UniFast Governing Board for the delistment of the institution from the list of RA 10931 beneficiaries.
“Ched’s letter to the PLM administration indicated that 20% of LUCs in the country are in the same predicament, which only goes to show that many more students are in danger of being deprived of their right to free tertiary education due to Ched’s problematic policies,” the group said in a statement.
The group stressed that the doctoral-holder requirement for LUC presidents “only serves to restrict, instead of facilitate, the delivery of free higher education.” They added that such a requirement defeats the purpose of RA 10931 and runs counter to the principle of free education.
ACT called the requirement as ludicrous as such “is not even asked of the presidents of the University of the Philippines System.”
“This is not only unreasonable but also more stringent than what the constitution demands for a presidential candidate. It is hypocritical even, for a country with a president who does not hold a college degree, and an education secretary who lacks a background in education,” the group said.
In a television interview, Leyco said they have already sent their response to Ched, stating that PLM is created under RA 4196 or “An Act Authorizing the City of Manila to Establish and Operate the University of the City of Manila and for Other Purposes.” Under the law, the university president shall be elected by the Board of Regents with a term of six years. There was no mention of a doctoral degree holder requirement.
He also revealed that Ched’s warning of delistment has destabilized PLM.
But amid this, Leyco assured the PLM students that education in the university will remain free.
ACT said that as PLM president for the past four years, Leyco “endeavored to serve more Batang Maynila by taking in more students, especially during the pandemic.”
“He has maintained an open dialogue with students and demonstrated respect for students’ rights. He welcomed the formation of faculty and staff unions in the university. Under his leadership, the PLM has maintained its excellent academic record as evidenced by its performance in licensure exams. Moreover, he has continued to be a progressive academic leader and a public servant who engages in public discourse and speaks for the interests of the Filipino people, especially the poor,” the group said.
The group also said that the existing restrictive conditions to free higher education become more alarming now after Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno called for the review of the RA 10931 as it is “inefficient and wasteful.”
“He wants to strangle the youth’s right to free education by imposing a national examination for the beneficiaries of free college education, and hand over public funds to private capitalist educators through a college voucher system,” ACT said.
Diokno’s statement did not sit well with many legislators.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raoul Manuel said that Diokno “should be mindful that education is not a commodity subject to cost-cutting measures, but a right that benefits the entire nation and the generations ahead of us.”
He added that “proposals to repeal or restrict the free college education program on top of the proposed budget cut against State Universities and Colleges is a wholesale attack to further dismantle the public character of tertiary education.”
Meanwhile, ACT said they stand firm against all policies and proposals that will deprive the youth of their right to free and quality education.
“We call on Ched to review its policies and do away with those that impede this basic right. We demand for greater state subsidy to education and to expand, not constrict, free higher education,” they added. (RTS, RVO)