Friday, January 17, 2014


      Several issues were raised during the event— from income generation to the “changing” character of UP. This intellectual discussion brought awareness to me as a student and as part of the UP system, which I often forget.

      It is no longer just a question of whether to allow private sectors to participate inside the UP community, which in itself is controversial. Apparently, there is no transparency on the actual figures of how much UP is earning from leasing its lands to the Ayala Company, as suggested by the statement of USC Chairperson Alex Castro. This supposed earning generation tactic seems bogus to me, especially when Professor Judy Taguiwalo told us that students who loaned their tuition fee are supposed to return the money with interest! If UP is actually earning from Ayala, why couldn’t they spare my fellow students this interest, in fact, I didn’t believe this up until I visited the site of the Office of Scholarship and Student Services (OSSS) [1]. From my economics class, I am aware that there is a cost for lending money; but asking more from people who have less – I simply cannot accept this. This issue does not only concern the administration but all the more the students – the poor but deserving students.

The Role of “UP” Technohub and “UP” Town Center
      In the figure below [2], it can be seen that the commercial development was “replaced” with “science and technology parks” that are intended to further the “knowledge economy” by connecting UP to business. Such is the UP Technohub that houses a call center, large technology/business companies and restaurants?

    A more recent development was the UP Town Center, which is occupied by several “high-end” restaurants and a clothing company. I checked out the place to eat but everything is expensive— definitely not for students— students with financial status that’s similar to mine. Indeed, this establishment is part of the “resource generation zone” though I highly doubt that students also benefit from the supposed “income” that UP is getting.
Figure1: UP Land Use Plan [2]

      Last year, UP plead for the P19-M tax exemption but lost. Although UP argued that the land shouldn’t be taxed since it’s for educational purposes, the Land Registration Authority said that “… the exemption is only from the payment of taxes assessed on all lands, buildings, and improvements used exclusively for such purposes, as property taxes…” [3] and that “… what the collector assessed was a donee’s gift tax, the assessment was not on the properties themselves[3].

      These arguments create confusion to people wondering whether or not UP has enough funds. Actually, Prof. Taguiwalo even quoted Senator Franklin Drilon as saying that UP has a lot of money— or at least he thought that was the case. However, the confusion is not limited to the money matters since it also brought about questions on the character of the university as an educational entity— the validity of the act of making UP an income-generating or self-sufficient establishment. The institution, being portrayed as self-sufficient and able to generate its own income, seemed to mislead some solons into thinking that SUC budget cuts are justifiable.

      Prof. Ruperto Alonzo claimed that Private Sector Participation (PSP) is nothing new to UP. In fact he named several developments in the food service (i.e. before, there is monopoly of university food service but now, there are private concessionaires), other service for students such as photocopying and printing and other projects outside Diliman (UP Basilan land grant, Laguna-Quezon land grant and Laurel-Langley properties such as Pandacan Shell depot).

      Also, he justified PSP by arguing that this allows UP to “focus on its core mission, viz., pursuit of academic objectives and academic excellence.” He also pointed out “examples of inefficiencies in UP-run activities” such as in the food service, printing office and security.

      Although it seemed practical to lease idle lands of UP to generate income, the very intention of turning the academe into becoming self-sufficient (that might lead to “cost-sharing” or increase in tuition fee) lead people back to the new University Charter Sections 22 and 23 that “the state should support UP… through land grants and donations and use of other real properties …” and that “… the preservation of the value of the assets of the national university shall be of primordial consideration …”, respectively. This suggests that in any case, the state should not neglect the university.
      In conclusion, Professor Taguiwalo quoted from the Hebdon report that “… We found privatization to be, at best, a disruptive, socially destabilizing, and ultimately harmful method of cost saving. At its worst, privatization can actually increase costs, lower the quality of services, reduce public accountability, and marginalize citizen involvement in the democratic process …[4]
      This forum only proved that the issues on privatization and the idea of UP as a self-sufficient and income-generating institution are yet to be solved and validated. Everyone, especially the students, is encouraged to participate and know more about what actually happens— both inside and outside of the university.

[1] Office of Scholarship and Student Services website
[2] UP Economics Towards Consciousness Infographic Teaser
            Accessed online:
[3] “UP plea for P19-M tax exemption thrown out” by Jomar Canlas
[4] “White Paper on Privatization” by Ellen J. Dannin, Professor of Law
            Accessed online:

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