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‘Great Centennial Run’ in UP

June 18, 2008 16:44:00
Abigail Kwok

MANILA, Philippines -- Students from the University of the Philippines (UP) staged the annual oblation run Wednesday to coincide with the 100th year anniversary of the state-run university.

Dubbed “The Great Centennial Run,” this year’s oblation run was participated in by 100 male students who held red roses and wore gold masks as they took the 30-minute jog from Vinzons Hall to the Quezon Building where the Oblation statue stood.

True to the militant nature of the event, which is held usually in December to coincide with the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity anniversary, the students demanded for tuition rollbacks and fair wages for university personnel.

“The oblation run is still relevant because through this we can see that matingkad pa rin ang protesta [the protest is still intense],” said Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, an alumnus and former prime chancellor of APO fraternity.

Binay said the oblation run was proof that the state university was continuing to “breed students for nationalism.”

“UP will always be a ground for nationalism and to breed future leaders of our country,” he said.

Although the university was facing issues on tuition increases and alleged “commercialization” of education, Binay said student groups should not be hasty in making judgments.

“Hindi naman siguro [Not really],” he said but added that the issue on tuition increase should be investigated.

“Bakit kailangang magtaas ng tuition? Tutukuyin natin ang ugat ng problema [Why is there a need to increase tuition. Let us determine the root of the problem],” he said.

Binay also said the university should also undergo modernization by improving its facilities to make it at par with foreign state universities.

“Dapat suportahan ng national government ang mga state universities para maka-compete sa world standards [The national government should support state universities so that they could be at par with world standards],” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Terry Ridon, spokesman for the student group Serve the People-UP (STEP-UP), said what was needed was a “reversal of policies” to protect the students.

But in a separate interview with INQUIRER.net, UP President Emerlinda Roman maintained that there would be no rollbacks because the raise was not covered by the memorandum issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to stop tuition increases this year.

“We had ours last year so we're not covered. I think it's very clear. There was no directive to roll back tuition. The request was for universities not to increase tuition this year. Since we didn't have any tuition increase this year, we're not covered by the directive,” Roman said.

She added that the university also chose not to increase tuition this year because of UP's centennial celebration.

“In fact, we could have increased tuition this year because the approval of the board allowed us for adjustment of tuition on inflation. But we chose not to do it this year because we're celebrating our centennial and upon the request of our student regent,” Roman said.

UP increased their tuition from P300 to P1000 per unit in 2006.

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