Almost another blot in UP’s record as a state university

The controversial ‘no late payment policy’ has not yet been rescinded by the administration of the University of the Philippines despite the criticisms the policy generated after the suicide of student Kristel Tejada last year.

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By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Four senior Political Science major students of the University of the Philippines Manila almost did not graduate because they were not able to pay their tuition on time. After the dilemma of the UP Manila students was exposed in media, UP President Alfredo Pascual decided in favor of the four students and told UP Manila administrators to let the students pay their tuition and graduate.

The said decision was welcomed by the UP Student Regent Krista Melgarejo but pointed out that “anti-poor and anti-student” policies in the university still exist.

According to an article published by the Philippine Collegian, the “no late payment policy” was issued by the UP Manila administration on Oct. 23, 2012. The said policy bars students who have not paid their tuition from being admitted to their classes, forcing some students to apply instead for a leave of absence (LOA). “Students who do not pay their tuition on time and do not file for LOA shall be automatically considered on absence without leave and would need to fulfill readmission requirements, according to university rules.”

Christian Durana, Reinere Policarpio, Mark Quinto and former student regent Cleve Arguelles were not able to pay their tuition on time because of their own financial difficulties, which they stated in their request letter for late payment to Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Josephine De Luna. But instead of granting their request to pay at a later date, they were barred from doing so and were told that they would only set a bad precedent for future instances of late payment. They were also told that they violated rules (on on-time payment) and may not be able to graduate on April 25.

Durana said he and Quinto’s request for late payment was disapproved while the decision on Policarpio’s request was left hanging. Arguelles, on the other hand, was allowed to pay his tuition on the condition that he must pay his tuition in full the same day that the decision would be released. Arguelles is a working student.

Durana said that his father, 59, who is a seafarer, suffered a heart ailment and was not able to work for a year. “We only get by in our studies by acquiring loans,” Durana told Bulatlat.com. He said his father’s income as a seafarer is spent on paying loans. His mother sells cooked meals to help cover their financial needs.

Policarpio also had the same circumstances. In Aug. 2013 his father, also a seafarer had to undergo an operation. “He was not able to come back to work immediately. The money intended to pay for my tuition was spent on my father’s medication,” he told Bulatlat.com in an interview. He said he told his parents he could file a leave of absence in UP or temporarily stop studying because he understands their financial situation. “They did not let me (file a leave of absence) because I only had one semester and then I’ll graduate,” he said.

Quinto was not able to pay his tuition because her mother lost her job and his father’s income is not sufficient for their needs.

Durana said De Luna asked them why they did not apply for a loan before the Student Loan Board in the university like they used to do in the last three years. “For my part, I opted not to apply for a loan (for this semester) because the loan had interest. My father has already been able to board a ship to work last February.” His tuition is P6,512.50 ($144.86), he is under Bracket D of the Socialized Tuition Scheme formerly called Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).

“I did not apply for a student loan because we have no money to shell out for the 20 percent of the tuition that we have to pay,” Policarpio told Bulatlat.com. He said the order of UP President Pascual last year that guarantees that students could apply for a loan to cover 100 percent of their tuition is not being implemented in UP Manila. His tuition is P17,012.50 ($378.42), he is not under STFAP.

According to the statement sent to Bulatlat.com, UP President Pascual “advised UP Manila officials to thresh out all issues that may affect the status and enrolment of students in light of the provisions of Articles 330 and 430 of the University Code guided by the spirit of that proviso to promote access to education.” The UP President’s letter also stated that since UP has adopted a new policy in April last year that guarantees that “no qualified student shall be denied access to UP education due to financial incapacity,” students could secure a loan amounting to 100 percent of their tuition from the Student Loan Board.

The students gained overwhelming support from different groups and individuals. Christopher Tejada, father of Kristel said in an article; “Because my daughter, Kristel Pilar Mariz P. Tejada who committed suicide last year was a victim of this ‘no late payment policy’ citing then that allowing Kristel’s case would set a precedent for future instances of late payment, thus violating the University’s ‘no late payment policy! These were the same words from the same person who advised us to let Kristel file a leave of absence last year. My daughter might have been weak because she hanged on to her dream, but that Vice Chancellor de Luna has no heart, no conscience and no compassion for a student like my daughter!”

“We welcome the move of the Pascual administration by approving the students’ appeal. We also thank everyone who contributed in the campaign. This is a product of our collective action,” said Melgarejo. She added, “However, this does not mean that we will stop campaigning because anti-poor and anti-student policies continue to exist in UP.”

Meanwhile, the four students has another battle to win as they once again submitted another appeal addressed to UP Manila Chancellor Manuel Agulto to allow them to apply for graduation albeit late. “Our earlier request was denied by the Office of College Secretary,” wrote Cleve Arguelles in his Facebook account on Thursday. “Good news: We were allowed to pay late. Bad news: New appeal to allow us to apply late for graduation. Bravo UP administration, you really love those who cannot pay!” he wrote in an earlier post. ()

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