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Friday, September 30, 2011

Not Always Right

When activists from labor groups and student organizations go out on the streets to voice out their grievances, believe you me, they are not always right.

They cry being marginalized, disenfranchised, trampled upon, deceived, fooled, and unjustly treated.

Two editorial pieces from the Philippine Daily Inquirer today have unmasked these groups for who and what they are.

The Workers

The cartoon editorial shows a Japanese investor cultivating a "land" with fresh investments, but the soil is hard, rocky, almost dead with "corruption," "red tape," "high power rates," and yes, "militant labor."

Labor groups ignore that our labor laws are sickeningly pro-labor. How many times has it been for the past recent years when the minimum wage was increased? This is done across the board regardless of the employees' performance or the lack of it. You go to a mall and what do you see? Salesmen and salesladies gossiping. You go to a community grocery store and what do you see? Cashier and bagger boys taking forever to punch in your goods and bag them for good. And nary a smile on their faces. When you're lucky, you get reprimanded by them for taking the wrong counter, "Express lane, ito! Dun kayo sa kabila."

Jeepney and bus drivers go on strike to demand for lower gas prices. Ask them to drive professionally, be polite, give change, be presentable, not smoke while driving, and you are asked to either take a cab or buy your own car. As if taxi drivers are any better.

The Students

"Squeeze" debunks the claim of state universities and colleges (SUCs) students that the government has cut down the education budget. "How these groups came up with such widely different estimates of the budget cuts suggests either carelessness...or a deliberate attempt to create an issue where there may be none," says the article.

The editorial also states that subsidies for SUCs in 2012 would reach a total of P26.1 billion or 10% more than the appropriation for the current year. Also, SUCs are expected to EARN P12.39 billion from tuition and miscellaneous fees from students, grants and donations, and land lease. Moreover, the Department of Budget and Management estimates that SUCs may have some P22 billion deposited with banks. All in all, SUCs will have P60 billion to spend in 2012. Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino said that to be able to deliver quality education and services, SUCs need P45.8 billion from the national government. Don't they teach Math in SUCs anymore?

Yesterday I was in UP Diliman to get something from the Faculty Center. It was the first time I have been there. As I entered the building, I saw students comfortably sitting on the floor of the corridors, never mind that visitors come and use that space for walking to get to their destination.

We turned to a dark hallway. Lining up were rooms with old doors, unscrewed hinges, with announcements as old as Jose Rizal (if he were alive today) stuck on them. The walls were crying out for some wash. The roof appeared to come down with the next wind blow. And a lot of "broken windows." A building doesn't need to be new to look good and fresh. People who spend their time in it need only care. Students, faculty, and management. You have time to go out on the streets to protest but back home your place is a mess. You go out and try to solve the problems of this nation, but you can't even fix your school. Don't you people smell the decay and the old stench?

The new UP President Alfredo Pascual said that his administration's efforts are geared towards research leadership, a demand for a national university. Why doesn't his administration walk around the campus, visit every nook and cranny, and fix everything that needs to be fixed? And don't make a sorry excuse that they can't be fixed because there isn't money. If you aim to be good in research, you have to be outstanding in resourcefulness first.

Mr. President, breathe life to the dying University of the Philippines then do your research leadership initiative later. Or do you need to do some research on what to do with the dying first?

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