Responding to Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chair Patricia Licuanan’s earlier statement to the media that the commission has yet to “officially approve” on Monday, May 27, the proposed tuition increases in 344 colleges and universities nationwide, youth groups led by Kabataan Partylist pointed out that several schools with pending proposals have already begun the enrolment period, with new rates already being implemented.
Originally, 451 colleges and universities applied for tuition increase in the coming academic year, but CHED regional offices only forwarded 344 applications to the CHED main office. According to Licuanan, the earlier reported 344 approved hikes have yet to be decided upon by the commission en banc.
However, Kabataan Partylist President Terry Ridon pointed out that several colleges and universities with pending tuition increase proposals have already begun the enrolment period. This includes De La Salle Araneta University and Lyceum of the Philippines University, which proposed a 5-percent and 7-percent tuition increase, respectively.
“Though on paper it’s not yet approved, schools are already charging the new and higher rates. So what CHED en banc will be doing on Monday will just be purely ceremonial,” Ridon said.
“Schools can cite portions of CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 3, series of 2012 to justify their collection of new and higher fees even without CHED approval,” Ridon said.
According to Section 9.1 of CMO 3, “Should the CHEDRO (regional office) fail to act within 30 days from the filing of application but in no case later than April 15 of the same calendar year the intended increase shall be implemented, would mean (sic) that the CHEDRO has no objection to the said application.”
“In essence, the proposals are already pre-approved and CHED has once again served as a mere stamp pad to these increases,” Ridon added.
Kabataan Partylist has earlier announced that it will file a petition to the Supreme Court to halt the implementation of tuition hikes by tomorrow. However, as CHED will still meet on Monday to approve the pending tuition hikes, the youth group decided to adjust the day of filing to Tuesday, May 28.
“We want to include the CHED memorandum as one of the basis for our petition in the SC, so we’ll wait for the CHED en banc decision,” Ridon said.
“We are again witnessing how inutile our government is in protecting the interest of the masses in the way it is turning a blind eye to the worsening state of education in the country. We will not let this new spate of increases go unnoticed. Students believe that these hikes are exorbitant and unsubstantiated and must therefore be stopped at all costs,” Ridon ended.###
“We challenge the winning Senators, especially those from Team PNoy to concretely and decisively address the prevailing hunger in the country as shown in the latest Social Weather Station Survey (SWS) indicating that 600,000 more Filipino households experienced hunger in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the last quarter of 2012,” said Anakpawis Rep. Rafael V. Mariano.
Based on the latest survey, 19.2 percent or almost 4 million Filipinos have experienced hunger in the past three months.
“Hunger is the twin-problem of poverty. The Aquino administration failed to do anything substantial to alleviate hunger in the Philippines. In fact, the government is responsible for all the factors that contributed to the overall state of hunger of Filipinos. For the past three years, Aquino condoned increase in the prices of petroleum and other basic goods and services. It also neglected repeated demands for a significant wage hike and continued the burdensome collection of Value Added Tax (VAT),” the solon added.
“The winning Senators must walk their talk. They must start delivering their campaign promises and address the woes of millions of Filipinos who voted for them,” said Anakpawis nominee Fernando Hicap.
“The data showed in the hunger survey could be conservative. The nationwide hunger incidence could be higher given the government’s constant inaction on spiraling prices of food and non-food items. Hunger is even more prevalent in provinces and far-flung places in the rural areas,” Hicap said. “In rural areas, farmers who produce rice, corn and other staples are the ones who are often hungry,” the fisherfolk leader added.
Under the Aquino administration, hunger incidence was at its record-high of 23.8 percent last March 2012.
Based on the survey, overall hunger increased in all areas except in Metro Manila, where it declined to 21.7 percent or an estimated 615,000 families from 25.3 percent in the last survey period. An estimate of 3.6 percent or 726,000 families experienced severe hunger, with Mindanao as the most affected (29.2 percent or 1.4 million families); Luzon (14.7 percent or 1.3 million families); and 15 percent or 580,000 families in Visayas. Moderate hunger rates are also higher than 14-year averages in all areas nationwide. ###
Youth groups led by Kabataan Partylist and the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) denounced the approval of a new spate of tuition increases in 343 colleges and universities, and 260 elementary and secondary schools across the country.
“The youth will not stand silent on this fundamental issue of students. We denounce in the strongest possible terms the approval of unjustified fee increases in schools all over the country. The speedy approval of tuition hikes despite the clear opposition of student groups clearly illustrates the deregulated nature of education in the country in all levels,” said Atty. Terry Ridon, Kabataan Partylist President.
Tuition hikes in colleges and universities
Out of 451 higher education institutions that applied for tuition increases, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved the application of 343 schools, the names of which the commission has not yet divulged.
The number of schools that CHED allowed to increase tuition this year is higher than the 222 colleges and universities it allowed in 2012.
According to CHED, the average increase this year is 8.3 percent or about P40 per unit.
“As more colleges and universities were allowed to increase tuition this school year, more students will be affected by the impending hikes. A P40 per unit increase translates to a P840 increase per semester if a student enrols a full load of 21 units, or a P1640 increase for the whole academic year – and that’s just on the average. It’s clearly an additional burden for students and their families, especially at a time when prices of basic commodities are also increasing while salaries and wages remain flat,” Ridon said.
NUSP and Kabataan Partylist have earlier filed complaints regarding the conduct of tuition increase consultations in several universities, including UST, La Salle, FEU and others. However, CHED has “not even lifted a finger to address these concerns and has instead served as a mere stamp pad for pre-approved hikes,” said NUSP President Victor Villanueva.
NUSP added that several private universities such as Far Eastern University and Centro Escolar University even earn millions in profit annually and should not be increasing tuition. “Is it too much to ask school administrators to cut back a little on their income and not pass the burden of increasing operating costs to students?” Villanueva asked.
“We are again witnessing how inutile CHED and our government is in protecting the interest of students. Instead of approving tuition hikes, the government should impose a moratorium on tuition increases in light of the worsening economic crisis,” Villanueva stressed.
Youth groups to seek legal action vs. tuition hikes
Meanwhile, Atty. Ridon also revealed that Kabataan Partylist along with student groups and youth leaders is set to file a petition in the Supreme Court on Friday to stop the implementation of the newly-approved hikes in colleges and universities.
“We will question the constitutionality of CHED Memorandum Order No. (CMO) 3, series of 2012, which sets the guidelines for tuition increases in colleges and universities, with the immediate petition for the court to halt the implementation of bogus fee increases in 343 schools that CHED allowed,” Ridon said.
Ridon explained that CMO 3 does not qualify as “reasonable supervision and regulation” as stipulated in Article XIV Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution.
“A policy that merely serves as a stamp pad for approving hikes and is powerless in controlling the actual tuition rate in the country is unconstitutional and should therefore be expunged, with tuition hikes approved using the said policy rendered illegal,” the youth lawyer added.
Basic education woes
Youth groups also assailed the Department of Education’s approval of tuition hikes for 260 private basic education institutions nationwide, saying that it would further aggravate the situation of basic education in the country.
“Many parents are forced to enrol their children to private schools to escape the horrors of public schools, such as the lack of facilities and various shortages. Yet if primary and secondary institutions also continue to increase tuition, students will again be forced to return to public schools, or even drop out of school,” Ridon said.
The youth leader added that even with DepEd’s Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) program – which provides P10,500 for each student in the National Capital Region and P6,000 for each student in other regions as aid in their matriculation in private schools – students still find it difficult to pay for the remaining fees, which could reach well over P50,000 in some schools.
“The problem with GASTPE is that it doesn’t actually relieve the burden of students and their families. Rather, it only serves as a business guarantee for private school owners. Imagine the government using almost P4 billion worth of taxpayer’s money just to guarantee profit for private schools. Why not realign that budget to improve public schools instead?” Ridon pointed out.
“Coupled with the implementation of the K-12 program – which has been signed into law despite opposition – the new spate of tuition increases in basic education will surely aggravate the education crisis in the country,” Ridon said.
Ridon called on the government to implement policies that would curtail the spiralling cost of matriculation in the country. “At the minimum, we call for a nationwide tuition moratorium. At the maximum, we call for the passage of a stricter tuition regulation law,” he said.
The youth leader also called on the administration to allot more funds for basic and tertiary education. “Education is a right that should not be taken away from our youth just because of financial constraints. Yet with the government continuing to be in cahoots with private firms to deprive us of this basic right, the youth will also intensify the fight for affordable and accessible education,” Ridon ended.###
Low turnout of Migrante votes very improbable; Vote-shaving, disenfranchisement, Hocus PCOS aimed to benefit Aquino clique
Votes for the disqualified partylist groups should be rightfully taken off the partylist votes, but KATRIBU indigenous peoples sectoral party sees no credible reason that the Comelec should stop tallying votes for the partylist race while it continues to count votes cast for senators. The Comelec decided to suspend the canvassing for partylist votes late afternoon of May 14, purportedly because of “issues” in the partylist elections, because of the inclusion of disqualified groups in the ballot.
Youth groups led by Kabataan Party-list staged an indignation rally at around 1 p.m. today to protest the the apparent manipulation of election results and various anomalies hounding the midterm elections.
“Filipinos need not wait for the Commission on Elections to announce a failure of the midterm elections. Reports of malfunctioning PCOS machines and the bloated counts due to transmission problems are clear indication of the manipulation by the Aquino regime of the 2013 midterm elections,” said Atty. Terry Ridon, Kabataan Partylist president.
Election Day plunged into utter chaos in various parts of the country, as the combination of technical glitches, election-related violence, and political infighting hampered the organized facilitation of the automated elections – heightening fears that the elections was rigged in favor of the administration.
According to Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes, only 200 out of 78,000 PCOS machines bogged down during Election Day. However, initial reports coming from independent election watchdogs reveal that the 200 figure is a gross understatement.
“PCOS malfunctioning is not the sole issue. Due to the lack of a comprehensive source code review, we cannot ascertain the integrity of the election results,” Ridon said.
Ridon added that Smartmatic’s clearing of itself from any liability in the bloated numbers transmitted to the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) proved true Comelec’s lack of interest to stop, and maybe even its possible role in, the massive electoral fraud and disenfranchisement in this midterm elections.
PPCRV has been releasing unofficial and partial results since early last night. However, poll watchdogs Kontradaya pointed out the discrepancy between the total number of votes and the total number of voters in the precincts which have transmitted their results to the COMELEC national office. Smartmatic denied any liability in the wrong count, and even blamed PPCRV as “data from their server is fine.”
“PCOS machines malfunctioning in almost all provinces in the country, inaccurate election tallies, Comelec playing up an image of a well-organized elections, and Noynoy Aquino remaining silent on the issue of electoral fraud – everything is beginning to look like a grand show that would enable Aquino and his cohorts to consolidate and strengthen their hold in the country’s political arena,” Ridon said.
“The youth and the people will not remain silent as our votes are being compromised by massive electoral fraud. We will remain as vigilant as ever and denounce the massive manipulation happening before our very eyes,” Ridon ended.###
Puzzled with Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes’ announcement that the official national canvassing will be suspended until 10 a.m. tomorrow, Kabataan Partylist President Terry Ridon said that it might be an early sign that Comelec is “really up to something.”“Why is Comelec suspending the national canvassing? It is an odd thing to do, especially as the official election results are already being transmitted to the commission,” Ridon asked. “Delaying the official canvassing taints the results of the elections, no matter what flimsy excuse Comelec has to release such a sudden announcement,’ Ridon said. “Anong gagawin ng Comelec sa panahon between tonight and tomorrow morning? Siguro dito na papasok ‘yung hocus PCOS,” Ridon exclaimed. “Comelec cannot escape speculation as its unexpected decision to suspend the national canvassing until tomorrow has not been concretely substantiated. Nag-automated elections pa tayo, tapos i-de-delay lang naman din pala ang resulta,” Ridon added. Earlier, Kabataan Partylist has already expressed suspicions of a brewing “massive electoral fraud” due to the large number of anomalies hounding the operation of PCOS machines during the polls today.###
Less than an hour before the midterm polls end, youth groups grew more and more concerned about the outcome of the midterm elections, fearing “massive electoral fraud” and disenfranchisement of millions of Filipino voters due to widespread malfunctioning of PCOS machines and several other factors.
Election Day plunged into utter chaos in various parts of the country, as the combination of technical glitches, election-related violence, and political infighting hampered the organized facilitation of the automated elections.
“We have foreseen this scenario for months and have continually called on the Commission on Elections to make extra efforts to ensure the smooth facilitation of the elections. Yet our calls fell on deaf ears. Comelec proudly announced yesterday that it was 99.99 percent prepared for the elections, but the outcome tells a different story,” said Atty. Terry Ridon, Kabataan Partylist President.
Since this morning, election watchdogs including the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and Kontradaya have been compiling reports on technical glitches involving PCOS machines from almost all provinces in the country.
PPCRV earlier reported that around 95 percent of PCOS machines in Laurel, Batangas have malfunctioned. The ballots for Compostella Valley and Baguio, meanwhile, were switched. Comelec has even declared failure of elections in four precincts in Baguio City due to PCOS troubles.
Apart from malfunctioning machines, pre-signed voters’ lists, pre-shaded ballots, and other suspicious activities in precincts have also been reported by election watchdogs.
“Wala na ngang malinaw na source code review, sira-sira pa ang PCOS machines, tapos andami pang iba pang kahina-hinalang aktibidad na naganap at patuloy na nagaganap sa mga presinto ngayon. This is why the youth is sounding the alarm – such high number of incidents cannot be disregarded as minor issues. It is in fact signalling massive electoral fraud,” Ridon said.
The youth leader said that the sheer number of PCOS troubles reveal a “planned, organized, massive automated cheating” that could be orchestrated by the administration to clinch a landslide win in the midterm elections.
“The puzzle pieces are falling into place. Comelec’s inaction on automated election issues, Noynoy Aquino’s proud announcement of a 12-0 Senate win in favor of the administration ticket, up to the orchestrated trumped-up charges against political rivals – everything is beginning to look like a grand show that would enable Aquino and his cohorts to consolidate and strengthen their hold in the country’s political arena,” Ridon explained.
Same old issues
Meanwhile, youth groups led by Kabataan Partylist noted that the electoral system lamentably remains the same, with massive vote buying and election-related violence continuing in all parts of the country.
In critical areas such as Maguindanao, for example, failure of elections have already been declared in some barangays due to election-related violence involving the clash of rival families that led to one death and four casualties.
The administration has also used the military and paramilitary forces to spread havoc in far-flung provinces, including towns in Northern and Central Luzon. In Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, for example, four truckloads of armed soldiers were deployed in polling precincts and were reported to be using brute force on voters.
“Comelec wants us to believe that the midterm elections passed breezily without any glitch whatsoever. However, that is far from the truth. Election-related violence, vote buying, and other schemes are still being employed to ensure victories for traditional politicians,” Ridon said.
“The AES – touted as a solution to the longstanding problem of conducting manual elections – has also been revealed as nothing but a far more convenient way to cheat on the elections. Hocus PCOS ang nagaganap. ‘Yan ba ang pagbabago?” Ridon asked.
According to Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes, only 200 out of 78,000 PCOS machines are expected to bog down on Election Day. However, the initial reports coming from independent election watchdogs reveal that the 200 figure is a gross understatement.
“Dati ang uso, dagdag-bawas, agawan ng ballot box. Ngayon, kaunting kutinting lang sa source code, sa CF cards ng PCOS machines, sigurado na ang panalo. The AES did modernize the polls, yet it also modernized electoral fraud and made it easier for politicians to manipulate at the right price,” Ridon said.
In the 2010 presidential elections, election watchdogs estimated that around 3 to 5 million voters were disenfranchise due to electoral issues. “With the utter failure this election has been, that figure could spike exponentially,” Ridon noted.
The youth leader called on the youth to remain vigilant as the polls draw to a close and the canvassing begins. “We need to exert extra effort to detect fraud. We also need to look at the bigger picture – judging from how dirty and chaotic this election has become, the youth should not be fooled its promise of change. We need to ready ourselves for an intensified fight for our democratic rights,” Ridon ended.###
Numerous reports of malfunctioning PCOS machines, brown-outs, and delayed voting mar the first four hours of the midterm elections, confirming the fears of various election watchdogs and youth groups.
Various field reports from volunteers of Kabataan Partylist and election watchdog Kontradaya reveal several “anomalous situations” in polling precincts all over the country, further confirming the earlier assessment of youth groups that the Commission on Elections has failed to address major issues in the automated election system (AES).
“We are off to a bad start. The problems that we are facing this morning are not minor glitches of the AES; the sheer number of incident reports confirms earlier fears we have expressed. Both the Aquino government and Comelec are accountable for not addressing PCOS problems beforehand. Massive electoral fraud is inevitable, and Team PNoy stands to gain the most from this electoral brouhaha,” said Kabataan Partylist President Atty. Terry Ridon.
There have been several notable incidents reported in the first few hours of the elections, including the lack of serial numbers of ballots in Pandi, Bulacan; the declaration of failure of elections in some parts of the Cordillera Administrative Region, not even a single functioning PCOS machine in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, 800 ballots in Compostela Valley have been switched with those intended for Baguio, 95% of PCOS machines in Lipa, Batangas reportedly malfunctioning, 8 out of 12 PCOS machines for Zamboanga not arriving in time for the elections, polling in more than 100 precincts all over the country delayed due to defective PCOS machines, and chaos and overcrowding in large precincts.
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez earlier told the media that there are only 2 malfunctioning PCOS machines so far and when asked regarding the coverage of anomalies and problems he said that it was “irresponsible reporting” on the part of the media.
“Jimenez should have his eyes and ears checked. Blaming the media to cover up the fiasco wrought by malfunctioning PCOS machines is an old trick in the book. His efforts to assure the public that the election is successful thus far can easily be debunked not only by the media but by the testimonies of inconvenienced voters that are experiencing the election issues first-hand,” Ridon said.
Ridon said that with the current state of the elections, it is easy to deduce that “massive, organized and planned” electoral fraud is currently taking place.
“All these reports are susceptible to CF Card mismatch, meaning that the internal memory of PCOS machines may have been switched beforehand, also, the overwhelming number of rejected ballots is cause for concern as there will be many disenfranchised voters. PCOS machines that have been replaced may have already been inputted with a fixed number of votes for a certain candidate. As of this morning there are already too many possible fraudulent scenarios all of which both the Aquino administration and Comelec have failed miserably to address.”
“There are only 5,000 back up PCOS machines for the entire country, how can this compensate the amount of failures and errors occurring massively across the country? Also, how can we be sure that these spare machines have not been tampered with?” Ridon asked.
Kabataan Partylist called on the youth and concerned citizens to heighten vigilance on the expected forms of fraud and other violations in their localities and play an active role in keeping the elections as clean as possible.
“The youth all over the country will remain alert for reports of election violence, fraud and other forms of violations of voter’s rights. If what we are seeing now is any indication of how this election is going to end, we must be ready to take action against those accountable for these nefarious activities,” said Ridon.###
Deviating from the traditional meeting de avance of traditional politicians, youth partylist Kabataan has set up another innovation in Philippine politics – an online event dubbed by youth leaders as the “Tweeting de Avance.”
“Instead of spending millions of pesos to finance a large-scale extravaganza to cap our election campaign trail, we opted to harness social media’s emerging power for Kabataan Partylist’s tour de force. Not only is it economical, but it also highlights the youthful character of our campaign,” said Kabataan Partylist President and first nominee Terry Ridon.
Tweeting de Avance’s concept is pretty simple – a small gathering will be held at Leona Art Restaurant in Teacher’s Village, Diliman, Quezon City at around 5 p.m., which will be attended by various supporters of Kabataan Partylist and online opinion leaders. The event will then be live streamed online. Supporters are also asked to tweet their support for Kabataan Partylist using the unified hashtag #17KABATAAN starting 5 p.m. today.
The partylist also enjoined chapters in various countries such as Canada and the United States to throw their support by joining the Twitter conference.
“Even if we have a limited campaign budget, we believe that we can still create ripples both online and offline if we tap the support of thousands upon thousands of youth and students who use Twitter,” Ridon said.
Tweeting de Avance caps off Kabataan Partylist’s campaign trail for the 2013 midterm elections.
“With the whole youth sector supporting the sole youth representation in Congress, we are confident that we can indeed level up our representation in the 16th Congress by winning not just one, but three seats in Congress,” Ridon ended.###
Three days before the national midterm elections, youth groups led by Kabataan Partylist stormed the national office of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Intramuros at 4 p.m. today along with election watchdog Kontradaya to denounce the commission’s continued inaction on the issues hounding the automated election system (AES).
“Unlike what Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes wants the public to believe, there is indeed cause for alarm with regard to the upcoming automated polls. Day after day, issues on the AES continue to float – from dysfunctional PCOS machines, to signal jammers, the recent blackout in Luzon, and now, the lack of a transparent independent review despite the turnover of the source code. It is truly difficult not to speculate that COMELEC is up to something sinister,” said Kabataan Partylist President and first nominee Terry Ridon.
COMELEC has continuously placated criticisms against the AES, despite not being able to adequately address issues raised by the election watchdogs, which include:
• ‘Pirated’ software for PCOS machines
• Unfixed bugs in PCOS machines
• Ballot design-CF cards data mismatch
• The disabling of voter verification system in PCOS machines
• The lack of digital precautions against election return tampering (e.g. digital signing)
• Errors in transmission programs
• The issue of signal jammers or the remote manipulation of election result transmission
• Lack of clear mechanisms for election protests
“There are only three days before the elections, and the same concerns raised years before have remained unanswered. Not only does COMELEC seem to be pussyfooting on the issues – it is now becoming apparent that massive electoral fraud through the AES is about to happen in favor of the administration ticket,” Ridon said.
The youth leader also denounced COMELEC’s continued harassment of progressive partylists Kabataan and Piston by delaying the decision in the disqualification case lodged against them. Reports from COMELEC insiders reveal that the commission might release a decision any moment before election day.
Kabataan and Piston Partylists, member of the progressive Makabayan bloc, are among the partylists charged by COMELEC for allegedly violating sections of Comelec Resolution No. 9615, specifically on the posting of campaign materials in public places.
Despite showing proof of compliance to election rules, along with photo documentation and eyewitness accounts, COMELEC has still pursued the case against Kabataan and Piston, showing that it is “hell-bent on disqualifying” the said groups, no matter how flimsy the excuse, Ridon said.
“COMELEC’s continued harassment of progressive partylists only show the commission’s manifest intent to manipulate the elections in favor of their overlords in Malacanang. Until now, COMELEC has not yet junked the case even if it does not hold water, in fact and in law. It seems that the commission is holding on to its cards up until the last day of the elections – all just to please its boss in the Palace and continue to harass the progressive bloc,” Ridon added.
“Disqualifying Kabataan is tantamount to robbing the youth – which comprise over a third of the country’s population – their right to be represented in the country’s legislature. However, let it be known by COMELEC and the Aquino regime that the youth is not taunted by the political persecution that has been systematically perpetrated against us and we are ready to defend what little democratic space we have left in this country,” Ridon said.###
(WITH PHOTOS) Clock is ticking: Day 34 for Jeddah, Day 6 for Riyadh, Day 11 for families; Kin of stranded OFWs set up symbolic campout at DFA anew
- Schools already implementing tuition hikes even without CHED’s official approval – youth groups
- Challenge to winning Senators: address widespread hunger problem
- Youth groups slam approval of tuition hikes in all school levels
- Low turnout of Migrante votes very improbable; Vote-shaving, disenfranchisement, Hocus PCOS aimed to benefit Aquino clique
- Repatriation ‘bittersweet’ for returned OFWs from Saudi