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Poll automation watchdog elected UP's 20th president

December 3, 2010 11:17am

The University of the Philippines (UP) Board of Regents (BOR) has selected poll automation critic Alfredo Pascual as its 20th president on Friday. He was also Alumni Regent.

As a convenor and spokesman of the citizens watchdog group Automation Election System (AES) Watch, Pascual had persistently warned the public about possible high-tech massive cheating in last May's first national automated polls.

He had also opposed suggestions for a postponement of the elections. “To give more them more time would mean giving them more time to probably commit more errors," Pascual said last May when it appeared that Comelec would not be ready.

"We have seen Mr. Pascual's commitment to transparency and accountability in the election and overall governance. We trust these are the same principles he will carry with him as UP president," said Ayi Dela Cruz of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (Cenpeg), another election monitoring group.

Pascual's credentials as an election watchdog may have redeemed him in the eyes of a liberal UP community. "That means, although he's from a very conservative background, he had a very progressive stance of late," said UP law professor Harry Roque.

"Good governance requires transparency," Pascual said via sms, "and this is best served by giving the citizenry access to government-held information, especially on matters of public concern like elections. This I plan to do as UP president."

Pascual worked at the Asian Development Bank for 19 years, and was a professor of finance at the Asian Institute of Management for 9 years.

He has also taught management and business at UP and the Ateneo de Manila University.

A UP executive who asked to remain anonymous said that "many are wondering how he hurdled the requirement of having an academic and scholarly reputation here and abroad." Pascual reportedly received six votes from the 11 members of the Board of Regents through secret balloting.

Other candidates were bigger names in the academic world, including former UP law dean Raul Pangalangan, historian Ma. Serena Diokno, and economist Benjamin Diokno.

Overdue selection of UP president

The selection of the UP president was set for November 19 this year but postponed to December 3 due to the lack of a student representative.

Pascual, the current Alumni Regent, was selected through a vote by the BOR, which includes him.

He will assume the highest post in the university when incumbent UP President Emerlinda Roman finishes her term in February next year.

“Responsibilidad ng gobyerno na pondohan ang unibersidad," Pascual told a crowd of students, faculty, and other UP employees who gathered at Quezon Hall in UP Diliman, where the vote for the presidency was held.

(It is the government’s responsibility to ensure funding for the university.)

While he would have to further study what would be necessary to ensure the financial sustainability of UP, Pascual said he had "no plans" to increase the tuition during his term as UP President.

In his vision paper during the selection process, titled “Remaking a Great University: UP in the 21st Century," Pascual said, “The commitment of the national government to underwrite the cost of a UP education is critical."

“A great university recruits students from among the best and brightest in the community it serves [but] as the national university, UP must also take steps to democratize admission," Pascual said.

He added, “UP must be a university where students earn their degrees as iskolars ng bayan regardless of the economic status of their family. We do not want a situation in which only children of financially able families can make it to UP."

Critical issues

Among the critical issues confronting Pascual is the pending P1.39 billion budget cut in UP’s budget. Thousands of UP students have staged strikes and other actions over the past weeks to protest the slash in funding. (See:

UP, the country's premier state university, had its budget cut down by the Aquino administration from P6.9 billion in 2010 to P5.53 billion for next year. UP had originally proposed a budget of P18.53 billion for 2011.

The budget allotted to UP serves as the system’s primary funding for seven constituent units located in 12 campuses throughout the Philippines, as well as the Philippine General Hospital, which is operated by UP Manila.

Eleven contenders

Pascual was chosen from among 11 contenders for the highest position in the university. The other nominees were:
  • Consolacion R. Alaras;
  • Patrick Alain T. Azanza;
  • Leonor M. Briones;
  • Esperanza I. Cabral;
  • Sergio S. Cao;
  • Benjamin E. Diokno;
  • Ma. Serena I. Diokno;
  • Raul C. Pangalangan;
  • Virginia A. Teodosio; and
  • Luis Rey Velasco.

    Apart from his position as Alumni Regent from 2009-2012, Pascual is the president of the U.P. Alumni Association (UPAA) and Senior Adviser to Tusk Advisory Pte., a transaction management and investment advisory firm in Singapore.

    He graduated cum laude from U.P. in 1969 with a BS Chemistry and in 1972 with a Master of Business Administration.

    Pascual is the 20th president of the university since it was established in 1908.

    Election every six years

    Every six years, the BOR elects the president from a selection of nominations from both within and outside the university system.

    Any outstanding Filipino known to possess integrity, stature in the academic profession, a national and international reputation as a scholar, and proven administrative capability may be nominated.

    The nominees were asked to present their vision and programs before the Board on November 8, 2010.

    Priority is to become organized

    Pascual told GMANews.TV that his first priority is to become organized. "I am a single individual, even as president I will be needing help," he said, adding that he will need to identify, select and appoint people who will constitute the team that will help him run the "rather extensive and complex institution."

    An accomplished finance executive, Pascual says he will address the financial aspects of the university.

    "Even the reduced amount of budget allocation to the University, as well as the long-term funding requirements which will require long-term strategies," said Pascual.

    He was earlier selected to serve as Alumni Regent in the UP BOR from 2009 to 2012. Pascual ceded the post to Gladys Tiongo when he was nominated for the position of UP President this year.

    The 11-member BOR selected Pascual through a plurality vote. The regents elected to keep the details of the balloting secret but noted that Pascual was chosen after only one round of voting.

    On September 9, UPAA Vice President Gladys Tiongco took her oath as acting Alumni Regent, while Pascual went on leave as UPAA President.

    Pascual told GMANews.TV that he will evaluate whether Tiongco will continue to hold her position as acting Alumni Regent because he will assume his new post in a few months.

    Previous UP presidents

    Among the past 19 presidents, three were American, the rest Filipino, and only one female, the incumbent President Emerlinda Roman.

    Roman was elected in 2005 and will serve until her term ends on February 9, 2011.

    The former UP Presidents were:

  • Murray S. Bartlett (1911-1915);
  • Ignacio B. Villamor (1915-1921);
  • Guy Potter Wharton Benton (1921-1925);
  • Rafael V. Palma (1925-1933);
  • Jorge Bocobo (1934-1939);
  • Bienvenido Gonzales (1939-1943 and 1945-1951);
  • Antonio Sison (1943-1945);
  • Vidal A. Tan (1951-1956);
  • Enrique Virata (1956-1958);
  • Vicente G. Sinco (1958-1962);
  • Carlos P. Romulo (1962-1968);
  • Salvador P. Lopez (1969-1975);
  • Onofre D. Corpuz (1975-1979);
  • Emmanuel V. Soriano (1979-1981);
  • Edgardo J. Angara (1981-1987);
  • Jose V. Abueva (1987-1993);
  • Emil Q. Javier (1993-1999);
  • Francisco Nemenzo, Jr. (1999-2005);
  • Emerlinda R. Roman (2005-present).
    – VVP/HS, GMANews.TV
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