SCAP urges human rights body to police schools, supports national legislation to protect students’ rights

30 03 2012

March 30, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

References:

JC TEJANO, 0917.836.0345

QUEZON CITY – A student group called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to monitor schools which may be violating students’ rights before graduation. The agency is tasked by the Office of the President towards human rights protection and promotion.

An incident in Cebu City caused online attacks towards St. Theresa’s College (STC) when it did not allow two of its students to attend the graduation rites because of Facebook “bikini” photos. Although the court ordered that the said students be made to attend their graduation rights, the school administration refused to honor the issued order.  Another incident was reported in Infant Jesus Academy in Marikina City wherein 6 boys are denied of joining their graduation rites because of “kissing” photos on the same social networking site.  Both institutions are Catholic schools.

The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), a nationwide alliance of student councils and student political parties, tags both incidents as an “impingement on the personal and private affairs of the students”.  SCAP said that the two incidents are not isolated but are two of the many instances wherein schools violate students’ rights.  The student alliance claims that it regularly receives reports from students of various schools presenting similar dilemmas.

“CHR is in the best position to police these academic institutions,” quipped JC Tejano, National Spokesperson of SCAP.  “We urge CHR to review the student handbooks of these schools and see to it that school rules and regulations do not violate the rights of students and are in accordance with the law,” he added.

Academic freedom

SCAP maintained that Catholic academic institutions resort to punish their students in an unfair manner under the guise of academic freedom.

“Schools are protected because of academic freedom.  But academic freedom should not be used as an excuse to control students in this manner.  Students’ personal space, which includes social networking sites such as Facebook, should not be governed by any school policy”, said Tejano.

“The schools’ responsibility is to form their student and instill values in them.  This role does not give them a license to punish students for what is in the real of parental guidance.  Academic freedom has limits,” he added.

Constitutional rights prevail over student handbooks

“Students’ rights are human rights and human rights are inviolable”, SCAP asserted. Not a single student handbook across the country has the power over the rights bestowed on any individual guaranteed by the constitution.

In a previous statement, SCAP alleged that STC violated the students’ rights to freedom of expression and speech and several provision in the Magna Carta for Women by causing psychological and emotional trauma.

Students’ Rights Bill

The group is also urging legislators that a national legislation on protecting students’ rights should be passed.  Currently, several versions of a students’ rights bills are pending under the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“A bill protecting students is long overdue. We need to make sure that this generation are afforded a conducive environment for learning by securing their rights, within or without the campus,” SCAP concluded. #





Student group will push through with surveys

29 03 2012

"The Filipino students give Sen. Santiago a collective 'wah.' Karapatan ng mga estudyante ang malayang pagpapahayag at kasama rito ang pag-conduct ng mga surveys," Dino said.

First transgender UP student council chair demands Miriam to “leave the students alone”

The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) today announced they plan to push through with conducting their survey on Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona’s trust rating in different colleges and universities in the country.

SCAP recently released last March 26, 2012 a survey on Corona’s trust rating among students from five different colleges and universities. The survey, which was patterned after a similar survey conducted in the University of the Philippines (UP) – Diliman by the UP Paralegal Society, revealed a strong distrust of Corona among the students.

SCAP National Secretary General Gibby Gorres said that the success of the surveys was met with positive reaction from various student councils and governments from different colleges and universities in the country.

“Instead of being deterred by fears that the surveys might be used for partisan purposes, many students in fact requested for such surveys to be conducted in their own schools. Many of them wanted their voices and opinions on the impeachment to be heard. The survey is one way to give the point of view of people whose interests are at stake in this process but who otherwise would not be heard.

According to Gorres the survey was one way for the students to express their opinion and assessment of the current impeachment trial of Corona.

“We believe that the survey has helped in bringing the impeachment trial closer to the students. It has become an invaluable tool in ensuring that the impeachment trial is indeed a political exercise in the sense that the public is also an interested party to the trial. Instead of being passive actors, the students become involved in this important proceeding by learning from it and forming their own opinion about it,” according to Gorres.

Meanwhile, Heart Dino, the University of the Philippines’ first transgender student council chairperson slammed Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s statement that the conduct of surveys on Corona and the impeachment trial is a “contemptuous act.”

Dino also said Santiago, who is a UP alumnus, should leave the students alone. It was reported that Santiago called for the expulsion of UP students who conducted the first survey on Corona’s trust ratings.

“The Filipino students give Sen. Santiago a collective ‘wah.’ Karapatan ng mga estudyante ang malayang pagpapahayag at kasama rito ang pag-conduct ng mga surveys,” Dino said.

“Sen. Santiago should stop her bullying antics and leave the students alone. She wants to cite us in contempt and bring us to the court, then by all means, let’s go to the courts. We will fight for our rights,” Dino added.

Dino said the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the conduct of surveys and the publication of their results are protected under the freedom of speech.

“Kaya naman naninindigan kami bilang mga estudyante na walang mali at masama sa aming ginagawang pag-survey,” Dino said.

“And at the end of the day, impeachment trial is a mechanism for us to have checks and balances to our public institutions; at dapat kasama ang mamamayan, ang mga estudyante sa proseso na ito,” Dino ended.

Some 2,010 students from Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), University of the East (UE) and Tarlac State University (TSU) were surveyed by SCAP this month.

Result of the survey revealed that majority of respondents in four schools showed hight distrust for Corona at 78.3 percent in AdDU, 77 percent in UE, 75.4 percent in TSU, 69.3 percent in DLSU and 41 percent AdMU.

The survey also showed that most of the students said Corona was not fit to remain in his position. It showed that a majority, if not a plurality, of the students held this view with AdMU at 45 percent, DLSU at 63 percent, UE at 56.4 percent, TSU at 76.8 percent and AdDU at 76.7 percent.”

Based on the result of the survey, SCAP asked Corona to open and make public his dollar accounts and testify before the impeachment court, things which the chief justice publicly announced that he will do.

The group also called on Corona to take a leave of absence from the Supreme Court. ###





There is no Catholic youth block vote

29 03 2012

by JC Tejano
National Spokesperson
Student Council Alliance of the Philippines

The notoriously anti-Reproductive Health Bill Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has alleged in its website that parishes command a certain youth vote that anti-RH legislators can bank on come 2013 elections.

In an attempt to belittle the command and commitment of different youth and student groups to launch an all-out shame campaign against anti-RH legislators, CBCP claims that its youth membership translate to an anti-RH bloc.

CBCP-backed youth groups’ membership, based in parishes or otherwise, does not translate to being anti-RH. In fact, out of the millions of Filipino Catholics claimed to be commanded by the CBCP, 71% favor the passage of the RH Bill (http://www.sws.org.ph/pr081016.htm), more than 70% of which are young people.

The same can be said in progressive Catholic schools just like the Ateneo de Manila University and the De La Salle University-Manila wherein youth groups campaigning for the passage of the bill are very much present. In Cebu on the other hand, Catholic student groups within the University of San Carlos and University of San Jose-Recoletos have mobilized their members for the RH bill.

Needless to say, there is no Catholic youth block vote.

For UP, not a single student council has made a stand against the RH bill. Student councils know that opposing the RH Bill will be a terrible misrepresentation of their constituents: 20,000+ UP students facing thousands pro-RH rallyists. Anti-RH students in UP, on the other hand, cannot even mobilize more than 10.

The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) is a progressive alliance of student councils and student political parties with more than 30 chapters nationwide and present in more than 150 different campuses. Making history and landmarks several times, we are ready to rally young people behind the passage of a pro-youth legislation such as the Reproductive Health Bill. #





Let her march

28 03 2012

Statement of Condemnation Against St. Theresa’s College – Cebu

The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines [SCAP] condemns the administration of St. Theresa’s College (STC) in Cebu for not allowing a student to attend the commencement exercises. STC administration opts to punish a 16-year old student for having pictures of her taken “wearing bikini tops and a towel” posted on social networking site Facebook (see news report here: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/168441/high-school-girl-banned-from-graduation-over-facebook-bikini-photo).

STC argues through their counsel Romeo Balili that they are a “Catholic school governed by the teachings of the Catholic Church. We have to see to it that values are formed”. They also add that, ““We are not happy with the penalty but we are forced to impose it because we have to form the values of children”.

SCAP condemns STC for violating the student’s right guaranteed by the Bill of Rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Article 3, Section 4 of the Constitution guarantees every person’s freedom of speech and expression. This freedom is extended to the Internet and social networking sites. STC has also violated provision of Republic Act 9710* or the Magna Carta for Women for causing psychological violence to the student causing humiliation and trauma.

STC’s Student Handbook teems with rules and regulations that violate students’ rights and the Constitution. One of the rules stipulates that students should not be “posing and uploading pictures on the Internet that entail ample body exposure” among numerous provisions that impede on the private and personal affairs of their students.

SCAP believes that a person’s civil and political liberties, protected by the Constitution, cannot be suspended by the mere fact that he or she attends a Catholic school or by the virtue of a Student Handbook. STC should be made accountable to the bias and bigotry that they have shown to the public, especially against women and children.

In this regard, we call on the Regional Trial Court that is handling the case to act swiftly in order to minimize the trauma caused to the child and her family. We also urge the Department of Education, Commission on Human Rights and the National Youth Commission to look into the administration and unfair policies of St. Theresa’s College Cebu to prevent similar cases from happening. #

 

*The SCAP Secretariat apologizes for mistakenlyreferring to RA 9262 or Anti-VAWC Act on the date of publication.





Poll reveals strong distrust of Corona among students

25 03 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact Person

Gibby Gorres @ 0917 362 7480

 

Poll reveals strong distrust of Corona among students

The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), a student council and student political party formation present in 150 campuses and 30 chapters nationwide, today revealed the results of a survey conducted on students of five schools which showed a strong distrust of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. The schools surveyed were Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU), University of the East (UE), and Tarlac State University (TSU).

According to Kristine Baguio, SCAP Deputy Spokesperson, “The survey was conducted to gauge the interest and satisfaction of the students concerning the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.”

The survey revealed that most students were following the impeachment proceedings either occasionally or on a regular basis. 57%, 69%, and 84.3% of students of ADMU, DLSU, and ADDU, respectively, said they occasionally followed the impeachment trial while 19%, 19%, and 8% of the students from the same schools said they were following it regularly. Aside from gauging the students’ trust of Corona, Baguio also stated that they asked the students whether they felt Corona should remain as chief justice.

“We also conducted the survey to appraise the trust level Corona has among students and get their pulse whether they think Corona should continue to stay as chief justice or not. We had to consider the impact that the evidence presented in the impeachment trial had on the trust of the youth especially because the trial is also a political process that the youth have a stake in,” according to Baguio.

Baguio stated that of the five schools that the survey was conducted; four demonstrated distrust of Corona (DLSU – 69.3%, UE – 77%, TSU – 75.4%, and ADDU – 78.3%). On the other hand, 41% of students of Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) do not trust Corona. However, 39% were still undecided while only 21% trust him.

Most of the students of the five schools expressed that Corona was not fit to remain in his position. The survey indicated that a majority, if not a plurality, of the students surveyed held this view (ADMU – 45%, DLSU – 63%, UE – 56.4%, TSU – 76.8%, and ADDU – 76.7%).

Significant number of undecided students should compel Corona to testify

 Meanwhile SCAP National Secretary General Gibby Gorres also took note of the significant number of students surveyed who are still undecided and have yet to form an opinion on the impeachment trial. Gorres called this a strong case for Corona to testify before the impeachment court. He also urged Corona to explain his foreign currency bank accounts.

“However, as the ADMU survey has demonstrated, a substantial percentage of students are still undecided or have yet to form an opinion about the issue.  This should serve as a challenge to Corona to come clean. We reiterate our call to the Chief Justice to open his dollar accounts, take a leave of absence and testify before the impeachment court. We believe if he will continue to hide behind legal technicalities, those who are undecided will eventually shift to the anti-Corona camp. This could be a potential ‘game changer’,” Gorres said.

Gorres also urged Corona to take the 6-week break of impeachment proceedings to consider their proposals.

“The long break in the trial is a great opportunity for the Chief Justice to think through whatever decision he will make in relation to his impeachment trial. We hope he will seriously consider our call for him to open his dollar bank accounts and testify before the impeachment court. We believe that he has the burden of clarifying before the public the numerous unanswered questions left by the trial. He can only do so by taking a leave of office which will also dispel any perception that his position in the Supreme Court might interfere with his impeachment trial,” according to Gorres.

The survey was patterned after a similar one conducted among students of the University of the Philippines – Diliman from February 24 to 28, 2012 which showed that 74% of students polled distrusted Corona. #

See complete survey results here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/86661382/Corona-Trust-Ratings-in-Schools





Student Leaders Call for A VOTE ON RH FOR A VOTE IN 2013

22 03 2012

The Student Council Alliance of the Philippines [SCAP] is the largest student council and student political party formation in the country.

MARCH 22, 2013 [Quezon City] —  Newly elected student leaders of top universities and colleges of the country have come out in support of the call to vote on the RH Bill.  The RH Bill or Reproductive Health Bill is currently being deliberated in Congress and in the Senate.  But supporters of the bill say that the RH Bill has been languishing in the both Houses of Congress for more than 10 years.

“For us, the RH Bill is pro-youth and to be anti-RH is to be anti-youth.” This is the strong statement of Gibby Gorres, National Secretary General of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP).  SCAP has 150 member universities, colleges and student political parties all over the country.  Gorres says that they will start campaigning in member schools to call for a vote on the RH Bill and to support Pro-RH candidates in the 2013 national elections.

“We believe that more than 10 years of debate is enough time for our leaders in the House and in the Senate to make a decision.” Benjamin de Leon, President of the Forum for Family Planning and Development (The Forum) said.  The Forum is an NGO pushing for the passage of the RH Bill and a partner of SCAP.

According to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), college enrolment continues to rise yearly. In SY 2010-2011 there were 2.63 million enrolees and 2.66 million enrolees for SY 2011-2012 in 1,793 higher education institutions nationwide.

“We were elected in our respective schools because we would like to believe that our fellow students trust that we will speak out for their rights. I support the passage of the RH Bill because millions of young people suffer from RH related issues such as HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy and even maternal deaths.” Said Roby Camagong, a student leader from the De La Salle University and officer of Student Council Alliance of the Philippines.

The voice of the youth should not be ignored in the debate on the RH Bill.  In 2010, there are 28.2 million Filipino youth or 30% of the population.”  Gorres said.  “From this number, according to the NDHS (National Demographic and Health Survey), 10% of all 15-19 year old girls are already mothers.” Gorres added.  Gorres is also confident that the student councils can exert influence among students in their schools even in their support for pro-RH candidates in the next national elections.

The student council members who made a united stand in support of the RH Bill come from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Manila and Los Banos; De La Salle University; University of the East; Polytechnic University of the Philippines; San Sebastian College de Recoletos de Cavite;  Philippine Normal University. #





INTEGRITY, TRUTH AND PUBLIC TRUST

12 03 2012

A day before the resumption of the impeachment trial against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, we gather as Filipinos to individually and collectively reflect on the fundamental issues brought before the Honorable Senator Justices of the impeachment court and the public.  As religious leaders, professionals, students, business groups, civil society organizations, social movements and concerned citizens, we have given our collective backing to the impeachment process, recognizing impeachment as a legitimate means to exact accountability from our government officials, ensure transparency of our leaders in a democracy, and to provide Chief Justice Corona the opportunity to explain himself in the proper forum.

We thank the Senator Judges of the impeachment court for recognizing that they must conduct the trial akin to a legal process, while remaining sensitive to the real political dynamics that the trial entails. We laud decisions made in favor of surfacing the truth and seeking accountability.  We have listened over the past weeks, endeavoring to go beyond the legal technicalities, in our effort to understand the fundamental issues brought before the impeachment court and the public, and we will continue to accompany this important juncture in the trial, to its conclusion, holding the sacred and universal truth that sovereignty resides in the people and that all government authority emanates from the people.

We come here today, united in our call to religious leaders, the Honorable Senator Judges, the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court, and to our colleagues, families and friends to vigilantly maintain our collective focus on the following fundamental issues:

CHARACTER AND MORAL INTEGRITY

The articles of impeachment are very serious. They go straight to the heart of the matter—the moral fitness of Chief Justice Corona to serve as the highest judicial official of the country. We must ask if Chief Justice Corona has shown his conduct to be beyond reproach, as is expected of every Judge especially the Chief Justice of the land. We must reflect on whether the character and integrity of Chief Justice Corona represents our highest standards of integrity and moral uprightness as a nation.  We must ask ourselves how we can return and reaffirm our collective faith in the dignity and integrity of the Judiciary, by the decision we will make as a people, represented by our Senators, in this crucial juncture of our history.
 
TRUTH AND ACCOUNTABILITY

We believe it is only by truth-telling that the Chief Justice can prove that he is acting with public responsibility.  Reforming the judiciary can only begin when the cloak of secrecy and deep suspicion that surrounds the institution is removed.    More than ever, Chief Justice Corona must reveal the truth. Legal technicalities that of late have become the hallmark of the Corona defense panel must give way to the search for truth and justice. We ask no less.

We need to find the truth and seek accountability for the non-disclosure of properties in Chief Justice Corona’s SALN and ask the Supreme Court to allow the opening of his foreign currency deposits.  As Chief Justice Corona lays his defense, we must carefully and vigilantly search for the truth and determine if he has acted with public responsibility – and seek accountability for any untruth unworthy of the position and responsibility we have given him as Chief Justice.

PUBLIC TRUST AND EMPOWERMENT

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is a public office and a public trust.  Chief Justice Corona was impeached by duly elected representatives of the people.  We must discern in the coming weeks, as individuals and as a nation if, as Chief Justice, Corona has valued and empowered this public trust or if he has used it to disempower the very institution and public he serves. We must seriously reflect and decide if Chief Justice Corona still enjoys the trust and confidence of the public to decide with finality on cases that affect laws, property and lives of Filipinos and our nation.

WE CALL on everyone to listen to various voices and opinions, reflect on these three fundamental issues and share their stands regarding the impeachment in the coming days and weeks.

WE CALL on all religious leaders (Pastors, Imams, Religious Sisters and Brothers, Clergy and the Bishops) and people of moral authority (elders of communities, teachers and parents) to engage the members of your communities and families into respectful discourse on the issues at hand. Allow and encourage them to speak their mind, to ask questions, to share their sentiments, while also being respectful and listening to the views of others. In doing so, remind them of what is important for you and what is important for us as a people. Remind them of the meaning of justice, truth, respect, freedom, human dignity and integrity.

WE CALL on our Honorable Senator Judges to continue to conduct the impeachment trial in a fair and just manner, to seek the truth and address these fundamental issues, to do so in a manner that empowers Filipinos to understand and participate in this process and to bring the trial to its conclusion with the welfare of the Filipino people in mind.

WE CALL on our Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court to take on a more cooperative stance in engaging the impeachment trial court. We recognize and respect that the Supreme Court is a co-equal branch of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines. We believe that being equal does not preclude, but should inspire a spirit of cooperation. This spirit of cooperation was promised by no less than the Chief Justice at the beginning of the impeachment process. We respectfully plead that the Supreme Court re-assess its stance on the matter of the confidentiality of the dollar accounts of the Chief Justice and on the restriction for any and all court personnel to participate in the trial as witnesses. 

FINALLY, WE CALL for Chief Justice Renato Corona to take a voluntary leave of office from his functions as the Chief Justice, until such time that the trial is completed and a decision is rendered by the impeachment court. We believe that his continued presence in, and influence upon the court which makes various decisions in relation to his own trial, will result in a process that cannot be deemed as fair nor credible.

WE PRAY that through our collective efforts, animated by our faith and trust in God, we can continue to build a nation empowered by truth, guided by integrity and served by a transparent and accountable government. ###

 
 
Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB) ● Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J., President, Ateneo de Davao University ● Fr. Antonio Moreno, S.J., President, Ateneo de Zamboanga University ● Atty. Adoracion Cruz Avisado, Chairperson, Transformative Justice Institute ● Sr. Josephine Bacaltos, RGS, Executive Director, Women Network Group (WOMYNET) ● Akbayan Party ● Akbayan Youth ● Aksyon Kabataan ● Alliance of Progressive Labor  (APL) ● Ang Kapatiran Party ● Active Citizenship Foundation ● BAMPER ● Bicol University Student Council ● Center for Agrarian Reform, Empowerment and Transformation (CARET) ● Cebu Technological University – Student Council ● Center for Popular Empowerment ● Central Luzon State University – College of Social Sciences Student Council ● Filipino Liberal Youth ● Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO) ● Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute ● KAAKBAY ● Kabataang Liberal ● Lawyers League for Liberty (LIBERTAS) ● Mamamayang Liberal ● Atty. Arnold C. Abejaron, President, Men Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE) – Davao City ● Muslim Alliance for National Advancement (MANA) ● Malayang Tinig ng Kababaihan (MATINIK) ● Palawan Youth Volunteers for Reform ● People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR) Chapters: Cebu Coalition of People Power Volunteers for Reform ● Cebu PPVR ● CPM-PPVR Zamboanga del Norte ● Citizens Volunteer Assembly Bukidnon ● Marikina People Power Volunteers ● Pagbabago People Power Volunteers Cavite ● PNoyPinay Manila ● PPVR Angeles City ● PPVR Bataan ● PPVR Batangas ● PPVR Bicol ● PPVR Bohol ● PPVR Laguna ● PPVR Pasig ● PPVR Rizal ● PPVR San Juan ● PPVR Siquijor  ● PPVR Davao ● PPVR Navotas ● PPVR Negros Occidental ● PPVR Negros Oriental ● PPVR Zambales ● PPVR Palawan ● PPVR Caraga ● PPVR NCR ● PPVR Region VII ● PPVR Region XI ● PPVR Region XII ● People Power Volunteer Center Zamboanga ● Pinoy Power Bicol Coalition, Inc. ● QUENOY ● SKAN-CPM-PPVR ● Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK) ● Philippine Normal University Student Government (PNU-SG) ● PILIPINA ● Pinoy Power sa Pagbabago ● PNoyPinay ● Polytechnic University of the Philippines – College of Communications Student Council (PUP COC-SC) ● Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) ● REPORMAR ● Senior Citizens Movement for Social Transformation – Quezon City ● Simulan Natin Gumawa (SINAG) ● SOLIDAR ● Sparks for Change ● Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP)Tarlac State University Central Student CouncilUniversity of the Philippines College of Social Science and Philosophy Student Council (UP CSSPSC) ● Urban Poor Alliance (UP ALL) ● Yellow Ribbon Movement ● Young Public Servants (YPS)