By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
A group of faculty and students wore black and staged a rally Thursday morning in front of the Quezon Hall in the University of the Philippines (UP) to protest the alleged irregularities in the selection process for deans in at least four colleges of the state university.
The rally was held in time with the meeting of the Board of Regents (BOR), where UP President
Danilo Concepcion, with some members of the BOR, later stepped out and appeared before the students and professors, assuring them that all of their requests will be addressed in a proper forum soon.
The protest rally stemmed from a statement issued by the “Concerned UP Faculty for Democratic Governance, Collegiality, Accountability and Transparency” which cited the UP President and BOR for ignoring its appeals made last September 9 on several issues, one of them on the appointments for deans.
“We call on UP President Danilo L. Concepcion and BOR Chair Prospero de Vera to face the University Council and clearly explain the political appointments for dean and director,” the statement said.
In another position paper issued by the faculty regent and student regent of the UP System, it said: “In particular, the selection of the dean of the Virata School of Business (VSB) turned out to be especially debatable.”
In an interview during the protest rally, UP Diliman chancellor Michael Tan said there are four deans who have been appointed under questionable procedures, three of them allegedly having personal connections to the BOR head.
Tan named the colleges as the Cesar E. A. Virata School of Business (VSB), the National College of Public Administration and Government (NCPAG), College of Engineering (COE), and UP Pampanga.
The appointees for deans are Joel Tan Torres for VSB; Ferdinand Maregdeg for the COE; Dan Saguin for NCPAG. Tan did not mention the name of the fourth person appointed for UP Pampanga.
“It is very clear, deans are academic leaders and they must be selected based on academic merits. The BOR says they have the power to make the final decision and they do, but they do not have the power to devalue academic requirements,” Tan told the Manila Bulletin.
“Itong sa VSB kaya nagpoprotest sila, of the five candidates four were faculty members, [have] extensive teaching experience and administrative experiences, and all with PhDs. This guy [Torres] has no PhD, almost no teaching experience, so what is going on (In VSB, they are protesting because of the five candidates, four were faculty member, have extensive teaching experience and administrative experiences and all with PhDs,” he said.
He said that several officers of various VSB departments have resigned from their posts due to the appointment.
A paper circulated during the rally identified at least five other officers in the VSB who have reportedly resigned for the same reason.
One of those professors is the Department of Business Administration chairman, Dr. Gloria Talavera, who called on the BOR to listen to the appeal of the VSB community in choosing their dean.
In a 10-page joint position paper of the sectoral regents of the UP System, they argued that the qualification of the chosen dean is “inferior to all of his co-nominees.”
“With respect to the recent selection of the dean of VSB, it is a fact that the BOR chose to vote against the recommendations of the Search Committee and the Diliman Chancellor and ignore[d] the appeals of the faculty of the unit concerned,” the statement read.
In response to the issues raised, UP President Concepcion told the protesters: “We have compiled all your statements on democratic governance, collegiality, accountability and transparency. As your president, everything I read, heard, and printed is all in my mind,” he said in Pilipino.
“We assure you that we will pay attention to this. Now is not the time for an extensive discussion as there are still work to be done but expect this to be the beginning of our conversation, our dialogue, along with sectoral regents,” he said in Pilipino, before going back to the BOR meeting.
CHED chairman De Vera, who failed to appear during Thursday’s mobilization, earlier dispelled the allegations and defended Torres’ appointment as the new Dean of VSB.
De Vera said that Torres was qualified in the position as he aced the CPA licensure examination, had served in the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Professional Regulations Commission and is an outstanding alumnus of the college.