The search is on: Who’s the next Polytechnic University of the Philippines president?

The search is on: Who’s the next Polytechnic University of the Philippines president?
The university will soon have a change in leadership as incumbent president, Dr. Emanuel de Guzman, completes his two consecutive terms. Get to know the candidates for the next PUP president here.

MANILA, Philippines– The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) is known for democratizing quality education. It also remains to be one of the bastions of student activism, evident through the rallies of PUP-based progressive organizations in and out of the campus.

The university celebrated its 115th founding anniversary last year. And as 2020 ushers in a new decade, PUP will be having a change in leadership with incumbent president, Dr. Emanuel de Guzman, completing his two consecutive terms that spanned 8 years.

Five distinguished PUP alumni are vying to be de Guzman’s successor. The PUP community met them in a public forum on Thursday, January 23. The PUP Board of Regents, the university’s highest decision-making body, will choose the next PUP president who must hit the ground running after President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the consolidated Senate and House bill granting national polytechnic university status to PUP. (READ: [OPINION] A National Polytechnic University?)

Among the biggest tasks of the incoming president is to budget and source funding for the university in light of this recent development.

Who are the five candidates in the running for PUP president? Get to know them here:


Theresita V. Atienza, DEM
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean, National Defense College of the Philippines

Dr. Theresita V. Atienza is the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of the National Defense College of the Philippines. 

She graduated in 1980 from the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) with a bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology. Atienza took her master’s degree in Teaching at the Central Colleges of the Philippines (CCP) and received another master’s degree in Technology Management from the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman. In 1997, she completed her PhD in Educational Management from the PUP Graduate School.

Atienza served as the chairperson of the PUP Department of Natural Sciences in 1998. She eventually became the dean of the PUP College of Science from 2001 to 2003, and 2013 to 2016. She also worked in PUP’s Open University as a director in 2004. Earlier, in 1999, Atienza headed the  Academic Programs and was the chair of its Master in Public Administration program.

Atienza is also a member of the Senior Advisory Board of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Command and General Staff College (AFPCGSC), and the National Advisory Council of the Philippine Public Safety College since 2016. 

Atienza’s 2020-2024 vision for the university is titled, “PUP Reimagined: Shaping our future, sharing our sense of destiny”. It aims to “make PUP a premier university of employable graduates”, accompanied by her mission to “imbue a sense of shared purpose and the needed competencies for our own lives and contribute to the lives of others.”

She proposes an eight-point leadership agenda that will realize her vision to jumpstart education, ensure employability and social mobility of PUP’s graduates, harness innovative teaching methods and learning opportunities supported by technology, and enhance research capability to address societal issues.

Atienza also hopes to uphold a system of meritocracy among the faculty and personnel, maintain administrative structures ensuring competence and fiscal responsibility, and conduct monitoring and evaluation of university affairs to ensure transparency and accountability.

These efforts hope to lead to building PUP’s reputation as a cultural and intellectual hub.

Atienza said that at the core of her agenda are four pillars involving activism, leadership, innovation, and ambition, as she seeks to push taking action for positive change and improving PUP’s ranking among other top educational institutions.


Rufo N. Bueza, DPA
Director and Head of Academic Programs, PUP Lopez, Quezon

Dr. Rufo Bueza has served the institution for over 25 years, earning him the PUP Gawad Katapatan award in 2019.

Bueza earned his bachelor’s degree in Office Administration from PUP Lopez in 1991. He pursued a master’s degree in Public Administration from the PUP Open University in 2009 and a doctorate degree for Public Administration in PUP’s Graduate School in 2016. Bueza is currently the Director of PUP Lopez, Quezon and the Head of its Academic Programs.

Bueza’s research study on assessing the enhancement of the government operation system of other PUP campuses was published in the European Academic Research in February 2017.

Bueza envisions “one PUP, one community” that is geared towards the well-being of the community. His main goal is to alleviate poverty, and promote good health and well-being on top of infrastructure developments.

“We will empower PUPians as one community towards being responsible with their own health,” said Bueza.

His vision emphasizes the need to promote unity and policy.  

“To support the vision, we have a mission [to have] globally competitive graduates, focused on sustaining the function, the instruction, doing research and publication, and extensions,” Bueza said.

He hopes to achieve his vision for PUP by developing globally competitive and socially responsible graduates, generating and disseminating knowledge through productive research relevant to the needs of viable development, and strengthening partnerships with other institutions for a sustainable future.

These primarily take inspiration from the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, which hope to address global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and climate change by 2030.


Manuel M. Muhi, DTech
Vice President for Academic Affairs, PUP

Dr. Manuel Muhi is a registered Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Engineer and the Vice President for Academic Affairs in PUP. He also works as a licensed civil engineer and a professional engineering manager.

Muhi graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from PUP in 1988, and received his master’s degree in Engineering from the Technological University of Delft – International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulics and Environmental Engineering in the Netherlands in 2000. He earned his PhD in Technology from the Technological University of the Philippines (TUP) in 2008. 

Muhi also pursued a master’s degree in Construction Management from PUP’s Open University in 2004. In addition, he attended various programs in local learning institutions including UP Diliman, as well as schools abroad such as the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan and the Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore.

Muhi was the Chairperson of PUP’s Department of Civil Engineering from 1996 to 2004. He became its Dean from 2006 to 2012. He eventually served as PUP’s Vice President for Research, Extension, Planning and Development from 2012 to 2015.

He has been PUP’s Vice President for Academic Affairs since December 2015, and he concurrently served as the Executive Vice President from 2018 to 2019.

Aside from these, Muhi was a Board of Trustee of the Greater Metro Manila Habitat for Humanity Inc. from 1998 to 2001, and an associate member in the 7th Division of the National Research Council of the Philippines.

Muhi’s bid for the PUP presidency is heavily geared towards pushing for the “national polytechnic university” status of the school.

If he becomes president, Muhi said he aims to make PUP a pioneering national polytechnic university in the 21st century.

“PUP will ensure inclusive, equitable, quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities through a re-engineered polytechnic education,” Muhi said.

His vision for PUP is summarized in a 10-pillar agenda that hopes to empower academic and administrative leaders, pattern “responsive and innovative curricula and instruction,” and create a productive environment through the provision of state-of-the-art facilities, as well as the enhancement of the university’s learning management system.

Muhi also aims to increase opportunities for student engagement in local to global venues, provide trainings for employees, push for the production of research journals, the conduct of research conferences, and uphold global academic standards, among others.

At the heart of Muhi’s presidential bid is his vision to elevate PUP’s overall performance in an interconnected manner, where progress cuts across the university’s different stakeholders to achieve a national polytechnic university status.


Divina T. Pasumbal, PhD
College of Communication Dean, PUP

Dr. Divina Pasumbal is an associate professor and Dean of the PUP College of Communication. 

In 1986, she graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication from PUP. She later obtained her master’s degree and PhD in Communication from the University of the Philippines. 

Pasumbal has served PUP for almost 34 years. She became a director in various offices throughout her career, including the Public Affairs Office from 2002 to 2004 and 2009 to 2010, the Center for Peace and Poverty Alleviation Studies from 2012 to 2013, and the Ninoy Aquino Library and Learning Resource Center (NALLRC) from 2012 to 2017.

She was awarded Best Innovative Consolonian Research by the International Conference on Interdisciplinary Research Innovations in 2012. She has also received numerous awards including the Lourdes L. Lontok-Cruz Special Award from the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc.

Pasumbal’s vision is titled, “Para sa PUP (For PUP)” which aims to make the university a “learner-centered, faith-oriented, internationalized learning institution upholding strong Filipino identity.”

She lays down four of her development goals to achieve this, namely: demonstrate fair and humane leadership; treasure human dignity and integrity of the community; transform the university into an institution deserving of a national polytechnic university status; and promote internationalization. 

Among the promises she offered to the PUP community are the modernization of university facilities and giving proper attention to the welfare of athletes, people with mental health concerns, learners with disabilities, and other marginalized groups.

Pasumbal also hopes to revitalize the scholarship program for students and faculty, opening crash courses for administrators, and empowering faculty unions and associations. 

The dean also said that if ever elected as president, she’ll do her best to attain decent funding for the university, and imparted that “sincerity is key.”

Sisikapin nating magakaroon ng karagdagan at disenteng pondo na sapat sa pangangailangan ng PUP (We will try to get additional and decent funding fit for PUP’s needs). Dialogue with honesty and sincerity is key,” said Pasumbal.

She also promised that there will be clean and honest governance especially in the PUP bids and awards committee and procurement office.

Mahalaga din na maglagay ng tapat, malinis, at may kakayahang mamahala sa bids and awards committee at procurement office. Magiging transparent tayo sa ating financial system (It’s important to put competent, clean, and capable leaders in the bids and awards committee and procurement office. We have to be transparent in our financial system),” Pasumbal added.


Ma. Junithesmer D. Rosales, DEM
College of Education Dean, PUP

Dr. Ma. Junithesmer Rosales is the PUP’s College of Education Dean. She has authored over 14 books on education, technical writing, developmental reading, and speech communication.

She completed her bachelor’s degree in Education major in English from UST, where she also took her master’s degree in English in 2003. She obtained her doctorate degree in Educational Management from PUP in 2010.

Rosales served as chairperson of the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education from 2010 to 2013. She was also PUP’s Graduate School Associate Dean in 2014 and Dean in 2018.

Rosales’ 2020-2024 Vision for PUP is to become a “global polytechnic university” that is personally, intellectually, socially, and environmentally transformative.  

She emphasized the importance of personal transformation as she believes that an “educational institution’s best asset is its people.”

“If you are managing an educational institution, we all know that the best assets are its people. Therefore, we should be able to transform our people from the students, the faculty, the employees, including its stakeholders and alumni,” said Rosales.

She believes that PUP should not only focus on tapping into enhancing its research and studies but it should also be able to transfer its knowledge to the people who need it.

“We should be able to produce more knowledge but it does not end with learning…It does not only end when we do research…We should be able to transfer our knowledge out there, to the people who actually need help coming from our own research,” Rosales said.

If chosen to be PUP’s next president, Rosales said that she hopes to highlight the importance of environmental transformation, pointing out the need to upgrade PUP’s facilities to make them conducive to the community. – Rappler.com 

Daniel Asido and Kristine Vega are the editor-in-chief and staff writer, respectively, of The Communicator, the official student publication of the PUP College of Communication. It is an autonomous publication that stands for and advocates truth, fairness, honesty, and integrity. Follow The Communicator’s coverage on Facebook and Twitter.

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