PUP students shave heads to protest corruption
MANILA, Philippines - “Like P-Noy, we are also committed to the cause for good governance. Handa kaming makalbo para sa pagbabago,” Vinouel Lim, a student leader from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) declared. (We are ready to shave our heads for change.)
Several students from the university shaved their heads Monday, February 27, to show their commitment to promoting good governance. It was also their way of protesting the non-liquidation of more than P4-M funds by the dominant student political party SAMASA.
A Commission on Audit report dating back to Oct 21, 2010 pointed out the following:
- Unaccounted funds/unliquidated expenses of about P4.3 million
- Non-submission of financial reports of expenses to the auditor
- Non-publication of the budget and financial reports of The Catalyst in the official publication of the university, which may affect the objectives envisioned by the state in the promotion of campus journalism and transparency in governance.
The Catalyst is the official student student newspaper of the PUP. As of this writing, the university has yet to issue an official statement. No investigation of the unliquidated funds has likewise been made.
Like Aquino, the students said, they are willing to lose their hair in the fight against corruption.
According to the audit report, every semester, PUP students each pay a publication fee of P20 and a student council fee of P15.
Starting April 2008, however, the university stopped collecting these fees due to “unliquidated expenses/unaccounted funds of The Catalyst and Student Council. These amounted to P2.5-M and P1.8-M respectively, as reported by the Internal Audit Office.”
PUP student leaders said they are taking up the challenge “to be the change they want to see in the world,” convinced that reforms in the country should find roots in schools.
This is not the first time that allegations of corruption have been associated with the state university. In October 2011, a ranking PUP official was killed in an ambush. Augustus Cezar, vice president for administration, was among the respondents in a case filed by the PUP president. He had likewise been a respondent in a graft case filed in 2007 about alleged overpricing of PUP campuses outside Manila.
A professor of accounting and law, Cezar was a respondent in a 1998 corruption case filed at the Sandiganbayan. Cezar was also the chair of the PUP Bids and Awards Committee. To this day, his murder remains unsolved.
“If we want reforms to be truly ingrained in our society, we must find a way to involve students and schools in facilitating these reforms,'' said Lim, a political science major fielded by Kilos! PUP as its standard bearer.
Lim said that the Aquino administration should also use the "bottom-up approach in its campaign against corruption in the government." In a statement, Lim said he believes that student leaders being exposed to best practices in good governance while they are in the university will aid them when they join government.
“We must not forget that our national leaders were once students themselves. Their time as student leaders proved to be very a formative experience for them,” said Lim. – Rappler.com