Breeding zombies

Back in the late 1960s, students at the University of the Philippines-Diliman rose up against the university administration and issued 53 demands to make intellectual life on campus bearable, and the list includes an end to professorial tyranny and the conservatism of the faculty.

Those demands also included a call for an end to meddling by the ecclesiastics on affairs that had nothing to do with salvation or damnation since the Jesuits had, from the time of Fr. Delaney, acted as moral crusaders on campus.

It was a demand similar to what Martin Luther tacked on the doors of a cathedral in Germany to demand reform within the Catholic hierarchy.

It was the summer of 1968, and its was the season of discontent among US students as well, with Chicago and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) knocking on the doors of the US establishment to end an unjust war and in Vietnam and battering the military-industrial complex as well.

The UP students won the round, and the liberals scored a victory against the inquisitors.

Now, we are seeing the same stirrings of unrest among UP students and the hundreds of thousands of those enrolled in state universities and colleges (SUCs) who have seen their schools’ budgets slashed.

The Aquino administration should better heed the clamor of these students, whose parents have to pick up the tab for the massive cuts, particularly at UP, which is considered to be the premier institution of learning in these parts.

With tuition rates zooming at practically the same rate as the religious-run Ateneo and La Salle, UP will be in a position to lose more bright students, and if the figures serve us right, a few thousands of them opted not to enroll since they could not afford the high tuition.

This is tragic for a school that had long regarded itself as the Republic of Diliman, a university that now has to spend fully 80 percent of its budget for the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the UP College of Medicine sand other schools of the health sciences in Manila.

Why is Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) so allergic of UP?

Even during the Marcos period, no bureaucrat tinkered with the UP budget since it was regarded as a mortal sin to reduce the subsidy to the intellectual dons of the university and the thousands of students under its wing.

Times are a-changin,’ indeed, as Bob Dylan wrote, but they should remember “your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. There’s a battle outside and it’s ragin.’”

Yes, indeed, they are moving since they couldn’t take it anymore.

The Aquino government promised to all of us, his bosses, that he would tread the right path but the way it is developing, it is treading the path of war, with the Department of National Defense (DND) earning a whopping 81 percent raise in the budget while the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) gained 123 percent.

Such increases raises the problem that the Palace is spending more for unproductive departments, or is the case that it is bent on pursuing a counterinsurgency war with DSWD acting as the battlefield Red Cross? Joel C. Paredes


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