Online petition writer claims suspension of UP Manila tuition policy a ‘partial victory’


MANILA, Philippines – An alumnus of the University of the Philippines and former reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, who initiated a petition online against a UP Manila policy banning its students from attending classes if they could not pay tuition, welcomed its suspension.

“Due to the pressure we have brought on to the UP administration, this is a partial victory for our petition. We will continue to work for the total revocation of the repressive anti-student and anti-poor policies of UP Manila,” Alcuin Papa said Tuesday.

The petition, which Papa started in the website, last Friday, called on administrators of UP Manila to revoke the “no late payment” and “forced leave of absence” policies that were linked to the suicide earlier that day of UP Manila freshman Kristel Tejada.

Tejada took her own life on March 15, two days after she had to file for a leave of absence because she could not pay her tuition for the second semester after scrambling to pay off the loan she took out for her first semester tuition.

University officials denied her request for a loan to cover the second semester, citing a university rule that prevents students from being enrolled when the semester has already begun.

Papa’s petition quickly garnered 5,000 signatures within two days after he started it on Friday afternoon. As of posting time, the petition has garnered 6,349 signatures, which according to administrators made it the biggest and fastest growing education related petition in the website.

During a news conference in UP Diliman on Monday, Papa tried to hand over to UPM Chancellor Manuel Agulto the petition along with the many comments by the signatories. Papa said Agulto and UPM Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Josephine De Luna ignored him.

“UP has a long history of providing underprivileged students with a chance of bettering themselves through higher education. Whether the policy is a reason for her suicide or not, policies such as the “no late payment” and “forced leave of absence” are anathema to the UP system’s nature as a “university of the people,” Papa said in his petition.

“Please join me and call on UP Manila to provide better support to students under financial distress and to not bar them from classes if payments are late,” Papa said.

The day before Tejada killed herself, UP President Alfredo Pascual had told the chancellors of all UP campuses that no student should be denied enrollment because of financial constraints.

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    Good move Mr. Alcuin Papa for drumming up UP toward the suspension of its tuition policy. From attaining this “partial victory” , it would be much better for you to work also toward your “total victory” by drumming up all concerned outside UP so that the real reasons for Kristel’s untimely demise will be constructively known. The posted speculations- which negate the good intention of many and cover the ill will of some , reflect mostly the emotional re-actions to this unfortunate issue due to the absence of reliable facts. I deem it as unfair to treat UP all the way as both the whipping dog and escape goat.

    Sinners or not, we can’t cast the first stone without malice nor the intent to hurt!

    Remember the young girl from Davao who committed suicide few years back allegedly due to poverty as she cited on her suicide note and which the media heavily drummed on? It was good that the local government concerned-motivated by its desire to protect the province’s image, conducted an independent investigation as to the real cause of suicide. The findings? Not really the poverty, but something very much different that were not made known to the general public as the media did not initiate any follow-up reports apparently in deference to the memory of the girl.

  • jose_guev

    the suspension of the policy should be temporary in nature. if it becomes permanent, it may be subjected to abuse even by students who can clearly afford to pay their tuition fees and yet refuse to do so. what should be done is reform financial assistance policies so that UP is able to clearly and correctly identify those who truly need help. arguably, stfap was a good start when it was first implemented, but it should have also evolved with the demands of the current times. other policies concerning fees and financial assistance must also be reviewed and revised periodically.

    since all UP students are supposed to be among the brightest, financial assistance policies must clearly favor those who are in need. however, a small fraction of grants must still be reserved as awards based on merit as well.

  • Ley Carias

    Personally may duda ako na hindi school related problem that trigerd the suicide…sabe sa suicide note umiikot sa love ang message at walang nabanggit about UP baket akusasyon agad agad baket di muna himay himayin ang sulat mismo ng nagpakamatay….oo malamang may kinalaman din ang UP sa ganung policy pero baket agad2 husgahan ang UP….ang tatay defensive dun sa interview kesyo wala naman daw boy friend and anak pero dameng nanliligaw….may personal akong haka2 pero para respetuhin siya better not say anything…..

  • M C

    For passing UPCAT, a UP student is a national asset and it behooves the government to protect its assets. We have been taught in school that a foundation of a state is its citizens and a citizen who passes UPCAT being a rigorous national college entrance exam ought to be fully supported by the government. For ignoring the petition of Alcuin et al is the height of arrogance considering that Mr. Alfredo has advised all chancellors to allow enrollment of all students. The better decorum would have been for Mr. Agago and his girlfriend, Ms. Josephine to be civil and accomodating to a fellow alumni. Since earning academic grades do not make a man, I wonder how Agago and Josephine got their chancellorships. Maybe, UP ought to reconsider their appointment. Otherwise, hitting an MMDA guy in public is acceptable provided you have a college degree – more so when you have a doctorate belt

    • pitingkapuya

      I believe you were taught in school to show respect to people. By calling Mr. Agulto ‘agago’, you need to enroll in a basic GMRC class.

  • Ricci Santiago

    aanhin pa ang damo, kung patay na ang kabayo?

    • jose_guev

      because there are other kabayos who are still alive and need all the help they can get

  • Jao Romero

    it is terribly barbaric to ban students from attending classes just because they can’t pay the tuition. isn’t it better to just hold their credentials until they can clear their settlements? at least they can still study (which is the most important thing) and use their time even without money. in Ateneo, i think the rule is students would be given an incomplete until they have settled their dues. we’re still allowed to take exams, attend classes, basically everything except get our grades.

    • pitingkapuya

      Study first school management before you give your comment.

  • marienkind

    Somebody needs a lesson in causality.

  • Manuel_II

    Where is the website/petition to maintain the status quo, or this is only one sided affair with free advertisement. LOL

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