(Editor’s note: The article below is from the June 6, 2007 online edition of The Philippine Daily Inquirer.)
By Dona Pazzibugan Inquirer 06/06/2007 (Mla time)
MANILA, Philippines — A new charter that grants greater institutional and fiscal autonomy to the University of the Philippines, the country’s premier university, was ratified by the Senate Tuesday, a day before it adjourns sine die (indefinitely).
A bicameral conference committee late Monday finished reconciling the House and Senate versions of the UP Charter Bill.
The bicameral conference report has to be ratified by the House of Representatives before the bill can be submitted to Malacañang for signing.
Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan, principal author of the Senate version, said the new UP charter would avert the decline in the competitiveness of the UP and the exodus of its top professors to private schools.
“Many of the problems of UP are borne out of a small budget to reform and improve many of its services. With the ratification of the UP Charter Act, the university will finally be able to generate income through the use of its resources and assets which could be used to improve its curricula and salary system,” said Pangilinan.
Pangilinan is a former chair of the UP University Student Council and in 1988 sat as a student representative on the UP Board of Regents, the university’s highest policy-making body.
Among other things, the UP Charter Act will allow the exemption of the UP from the Salary Standardization Act which will enable it to increase the salaries of its teaching and non-teaching staff; tax exemptions of donations and revenues used solely for educational purposes; and greater autonomy by removing Malacañang’s power to appoint the UP president and other sectoral representatives.
It also provides safeguards in the utilization and disposition of UP land and other assets such as the creation of an independent trust committee that would advise the board of regents on such investments.
Under the new Charter, the regents can approve and enter into contracts like joint ventures, long-term leases and sale for the university to be able to raise revenues.
Contracts worth above P50 million would require the vote of two-thirds of the board. Other contracts worth P50 million and less will require only a majority vote.
The UP Board of Regents has 11 members: The Commission on Higher Education who chairs the board; the UP president as vice chair; the chair of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture; the chair of the House committee on higher and technical education; the UP Alumni Association president; a faculty regent; a student regent; a staff regent; and three sectoral regents.“After almost 12 years in the legislative mill, we are glad that this landmark piece of legislation will finally become a law,” said Pangilinan, who has been promoting the bill since 2001.