Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What's so good about the morning?

Cadets in formation. From the Philippine Military Academy website
The case of Cadet Cudia has brought into public (a.k.a. civilian) discussion what values the armed forces value and how this relates to the civil sector of society. In this country, the civilian authority as embodied by the President of the Philippines acting through his/her civilian defense secretary, is supreme. The constitutional tradition we inherited from the Roman Republic says "Cedant Arma Togae" or Arms give way to the Toga, only means that civilian authority is supreme. However, the civilian unless constitutionally given the right, is not supreme over the soldier. Thus social media warriors cannot claim supremacy over the soldier unless the constitution gives them authority! Social media civvie warriors at best have their own duty and the soldier his/her own. 

Philippine Military Academy (PMA) mistahs say that "civilians will never understand". Perhaps yes, if only the real ideal of civilian supremacy over the army. A mob can never be supreme over the army. An electorate expressing its democratic according to the modes prescribed by the Constitution will  and will always be.

However it is a bit daft for mistahs to think that civilians will never understand what the honor code is all about. Honor is actually a simple concept if one values the collective rather than the individual first. British public schools have the similar idea of what the PMA has and any violator is "dobbed" in. In fact even in university, by following the honor code, you can dob in an erring prof! (This was the "dob in a Don" controversy under the conservative Australian government about a decade ago) And this raises a ruckus if one considers American ideas of academic freedom.

 I am for the moment a civvie and I fully understand these things! Anyone one who signs up for the service (boot camp!) has to have his/her behavior changed. The army doesn't need individualists but people who will subordinate their will to command. It is not just simple following of orders, but reasoned obedience to command. The orders must be clear, concise and complete to the last detail. Any SNAFU can lead to disaster and unnecessary loss of life. When I blew my top after reading Cadet Cudia's appeal on a social media news site, it was because it violated what being clear, concise and complete really means!

Behavior is changed from day 1. Regimentation begins and then follows the almost endless inculcation of plebe knowledge from important stuff like the definition of military discipline, military courtesy to almost trivial things like the right answer to "What's so good
about the morning?" at morning inspection.

And of course the Honor Code that even we in the Cadet Corps of the University of the Philippines high school and ROTC had a version of.

And of course not to leave out the important objective of developing "esprit d corps" from a bunch of misfits and losers!

The plebe is the lowest form of life in the army. Even the private who issues the army issues have more authority! One has to respect authority and best of all be courteous even to the goddamned private!

And the plebe cannot be seen or heard not to know, but always to find out!

But the plebe doesn't remain a plebe for long. He/she will be recognized in due time and who knows may end up like General Douglas MacArthur! Then he/she will be commanding all, from the goddamed private to the Generals! The General of the Army like MacArthur is courteous to the lowest ranking soldier to the Commander-in-Chief. My oh my, courtesy is a rare commodity these days in our society!

But to get to this stage, one has to perform his/her duty well in honor and to his/her country above all. To do it well and honorably for the country is to persevere in what you are doing.

The unfortunate thing is that this important military training experience is lost to many of the young people. It's like the Latin Mass, almost lost. With ROTC being made an option and universities and colleges not promoting it as well as the other civilian options for national service, young men and women have not a idea that there are times one has to subordinate the will for a worthy cause, like national defense or responding to disasters. Here we need the values of discipline and courtesy that enable us to perform our duty well under grace and pressure.

And we then realize what our authority as civilians really is all about! The challenge for the armed forces and most especially for the mistahs of the professional officer corps is to live up to the whole idea of being a soldier. The AFP has to clean up its barracks and to show it as spotless to the civilian supreme authority.

My dad sang to me the  old Army ditty when I first put on the uniform. "You're in the army now, you'll never get out!"

What never left me is the sense that there are times I have to reasonably obey command and to give commands and also that important value of courtesy which plebe knowledge defines simply as "an expression of consideration for others"

What's so good about the morning? Sir, you sir!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The government is washed away

All Philippine Presidents have faced disasters and catastrophes in their terms, be this man made or natural. Manuel Quezon faced his greatest trial during the Japanese invasion. The president installed by the Japanese occupiers, Jose P Laurel faced his greatest trial trying to protect his people from the Japanese. Quezon's successor Sergio Osmena faced his by trying to rebuild the Philippines from the war's damage. The other presidents faced earthquakes, numerous typhoons and droughts and floods and they were able to rise to the occasion. And this even included Mrs Cory Aquino, who had to face the RAM coup disaster aside from the great earthquake, a big volcanic eruption and of course a series of deadly typhoons. She rose to the occasion even if many did not agree with her policies.

Why did these presidents of the Philippines rise to the occasion? Perhaps before they were elected, they realized that the Presidency is no PR cakewalk and that it involves a certain gravitas which Mrs Aquino was well acquainted with, given the tragic episodes of her life. She was known to be on her knees in prayer so many times.  The presidency as Mrs Aquino knew, isn't just PR. Mrs Aquino was known to be like steel when she decides, whether these decisions were right or wrong. She took the blame gracefully.

The presidency of Mrs Aquino's son Noynoy is probably the first presidency installed into power solely by PR hype. Everything in this Aquino administration smacks of PR stunts. From its "daang matuwid" mantra to how it manages important policy decisions. It is reactive. While some of the responses were for the greater public good, some responses were not, especially its stonewalling on the proper response to the tourist bus hostage taking in the Luneta.

The signs of the problem were apparent from the earliest days of this presidential administration. The response to the Haiyan catastrophe in terms of decision making and management is nothing but a worse version of how the bus hostage taking was managed scaled up in dimensions. This administration appears not to have learned any lessons on how to handle a crisis and now it is paying for it and the people are paying a huge price for it, in terms of lives being lost

The PR spin instinct has not been lost. Mr Aquino denies the scale of lives lost. Similar large scale disasters have happened in other countries and the leaders of these countries had to break the grim news to their people, not by PR spinning it. Presidents and Prime Ministers and even Monarchs who have no political roles have the responsibility to tell it how it is, comfort the nation and make the national resolve as hard as steel, raise the morale of the people and challenge them to rebuild or if necessary to fight. Manuel Quezon had the unfathomable responsibility of telling his people this in December 1941.

Mr Aquino, the body count is rising, tell your people to be strong. You have the nerve to tell them that they were unprepared one day after the catastrophe!  You also walked out of a disaster briefing and pointedly told a looting victim "that he did not die"!

Filipinos compare what happened in Japan. That is a very apt comparison in terms of damage and scale. The disaster response did take a while, about 2 to 3 days but the Prime Minister of Japan ordered his forces to respond on the same day. A few days later the government asked the  Emperor give a message to his subjects, asking them to grieve, help, and rebuild. In no instance did the Prime Minister or Emperor tell the people that they were unprepared. That will be in the chambers of the Diet, where the blame game should be.

The presidency of Mr Aquino, despite whatever good it has done, will solely be judged by history on how it conducted itself in this catastrophe, as Christiane Amanpour would rightly judge. But this presidency is found wanting. And all that ride on the political roller coaster of the presidency are found wanting, including media and the military in which my father served and warned a year before his death that corruption in the Armed Forces will result in the inability of the soldiers to respond to threats that could kill people. My father was referring to armed threats to national security. But disasters now are a threat to national security. Unless and we are seeing the breakdown of society in Leyte. This will continue unless the government imposes law and order.

I will not be as harsh like Peque Gallaga in his indictment. But like Direk Peque Gallaga, I will UNFRIEND anyone in social media and face to face if anyone asks me to obey AQUINO's GOVERNMENT and criticize it later! My conscience will not allow it. I cannot reasonably take commands from a commander-in-chief who cannot effectively command because he can't decide well! This is something I learned from my ROTC training.

PR like anything media practitioners have hatched is easily washed out. It was and with it this Aquino presidency. Like Peque, as far as I am concerned for those who criticize me for criticizing Mr Aquino and his government, it's either you  smash your idols or choose the welfare of the people.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Simoun's lamp has been lit, finally.. not by one but by the many!

"So often have we been haunted by the spectre of subversion which, with some fostering, has come to be a positive and real being, whose very name steals our serenity and makes us commit the greatest blunders... If before the reality, instead of changing the fear of one is increased, and the confusion of the other is exacerbated, then they must be left in the hands of time..."

Dr Jose Rizal "To the Filipino People and their Government"

Jose Rizal dominates the Luneta, which is sacred to the Philippine nation as a place of martyrdom. And many perhaps all of those executed in the Luneta, with the exception of the three Filipino secular priests martyred in 1872, have read Rizal's El Filibusterismo. Dr Rizal's second novel is a darker and more sinister one that its prequel but has much significance across the century and more after it was published for it preaches the need for revolution with caveats,  which are when the time is right and who will instigate it.

In El Filibusterismo, Rizal advocates nothing but revolution but being the romantic he was, he wanted the revolution instigated by the noble and pure, those "sin mancha" for "sea holocausta acceptable". Surely the characters Rizal created in Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo could never fit the bill. For Rizal only the Filipino youth could.

I have always been intrigued about the character of Simoun. There is nothing that has been created in all of world literature that personifies corruption in all its shades, depths and motives. Simoun can represent the kind of government we have allowed to take its place. In the end, Simoun the corrupted, reveals the reason why he became corrupt and that is to avenge the loss of his love. But this love is not the Philippines. Simoun by partaking of the corruption, became corrupt himself and fostered further tyranny. And so he, mortally wounded,  received absolution after confessing from the noble Indio priest, Florentino.

Simoun's lamp is a metaphor for all the last resort of the defenseless against corruption. The nitro-glycerin in the lamp "is all the hatred, wrongs, injustice and outrage" all distilled as a clear liquid. Rizal was not against the lighting of the lamp, but he was against lighting the lamp for the wrong reasons and motives. The weapon that will kill corruption is no more than a noble idea and Rizal was clear on that.

And have we lighted the lamp? Perhaps we did on August 26, 2013 the day of heroes. Definitely the metaphorical lamp was not lit by the corrupt, the corrupted or by the corruptors. It was lit by neither but by so many Filipinos whose only motive, and noble indeed that is,  to seek a just future for their nation and children.

And the lamp will explode when the people have reached that height, God's weapon definitely. The oligarchic idols will be crushed and the corrupt edifice will fall like a house of cards.. that is if the Filipino government fails to punish the criminals, excise its putrefaction, burn the vices of its thieves.

Otherwise the lamp will just be a source of light and justice. What then is your choice?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A social media milestone, August 26, 2013, Opportunities and Caveats

"If you want Revolution, you have to do it like Bonifacio did, face to face"

So much has been written in the academic to the non academic literature about what triggered and why the Arab Spring revolutions eventually restructured the political landscape of the Middle East. This has been one of the topics in our Science, Technology and Society (STS) courses in the University of the Philippines.

Then in PH, came the horrible scandal of the pork barrel funds mess. One woman on Facebook suggested that the people come to Manila's Luneta Park to express their disgust to what their lawmakers and the Executive did to their tax money. And the call became viral.

At first based on the data we have for social media access, political mobilization across the social economic classes of PH society may be harder than expected. While 30-40 million Filipinos may have accounts to any of the social media platforms, the nature of their access is class defined. Social media in PH is essentially a middle class phenomenon and reflects this class's concerns, ideologies and biases so much made manifest in the outrage resulting from a college freshman's suicide last March.

Or is it really a purely middle class phenomenon?

So far there has been no sustained social movement in the last 30 years that has resulted in social structural change in PH society regardless of the media used to effect it. Social and political movements may have effected regime change via media as in EDSA 1986 and EDSA 2000, it is debatable if social structural change has happened.

Social movements may focused on a single issue or issues particular to a socio-economic class. In the social media paradigm and theory, these movements may start as emergent entities without a central authority although they may have a co-ordinating group. It is almost a given that social movements are composed of various interest groups which have to be co-ordinated and any decision should be by consensus.

Social movements may have as an end goal political and economic reform within the current status quo. This would necessitate negotiated settlement among the various groups and based on the experience of the negotiated end of Apartheid in South Africa (which couldn't be done without including the exiled African National Congress (ANC)), it is expected that the aftermath won't be easy. The ANC's front in South Africa (which opposed accommodation with the old regime) was not the only anti Apartheid group but they went into confrontation with other groups which accepted the Apartheid regime's reforms that negotiation was the only solution.

All this happened before the Age of Internet but photocopied pamphlets fulfilled the role of viral memes in the Facebook universe.

A revolutionary movement's goal is to overthrow an existing ruling socio-political institutions commonly by violence or less commonly by negotiation.

A social movement may morph into a revolutionary movement once authority and decision making becomes more centralized. Social media has changed how this is to be done. With social media, revolutionary movements right from the start would have to network outside their ideological groups, even if some of the groups are antithetical to their ideology, thereby taking on the function of a social movement. The literature on revolutions is inordinately focused on outcomes rather than mobilization or organization. The Age of Social Media is interesting for STS studies since the outcome of any social and revolutionary movement is extremely closely mediated by technology that determines the organization or lack of organization of the event or its effectiveness.

Nonetheless, social and revolutionary movements today require strong social media networking (which is now easily done) which can translate to mobilization. But commitment to social and political change requires face to face encounters.

What will happen on the Luneta on August 26, 2013 bears watching. However the participants should resist any attempt of the emergent organizers to focus the attention on a particular issue when it is clear to PH society that the problem is structural and may require the removal of the ruling class, by negotiation if much as possible!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

What does Satire do?

Satire as genre in visual art, performing arts and in literature is used to ridicule society's shortcomings, vices, mores and conventions. While it HAS to be FUNNY, it's main goal is constructive, to give chance to the satirized to REFORM themselves.

Satire in the Western Canon is from the Romans like Horace and Juvenal whose styles set the standard for satire throughout history. My favourite satirical work is Petronius Arbiters' The Satyricon which I first read while attending the University of the Philippines. It is a major work of literature for the single reason that it satirizes Roman society of the first century AD as well as giving linguists a clue on how colloquial Latin was spoken. The chapters on Trimalchio's Dinner Party are hilarious to the extent that F Scott Fitzgerald once considered "Trimalchio" as a possible title to his novel which eventually became "The Great Gatsby"

Satire ridicules the pompous and the holier than thous and is most devastating to social climbers. In fact social climbers and careerists are shredded by satire most effectively, a fact not lost on the Philippine's premiere satirist, Dr Jose Rizal who in Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, shreds the friars, social climbers and the gamut of Philippine colonial society and of course the Royal and Pontifical University!

And so when we read that a comic strip artist in a point of satirical effort, makes a joke in the characters of fictional fat characters, about lesbians in a  Catholic all girls school, the paper publishing the strip suspended the artist.

On threat of a lawsuit. But then again, lawsuits and lawyers are fair game for satirists as well as nuns and priests! The Pope not excepted by satire but recent satire on the Pope is more of the Horatian kind (gentle and constructive) rather than the Juvenalian kind. Remember the "Pope must Diet"? Robble Coltrane satirizes not the goodness of the Pope but the badness of people managing the Pope!

Rizal had no choice but to be Juvenalian. And for that he was shot! At least the comic strip artist was just suspended.

Of course there will be the offended. The politically correct, the pompous, the holier than thou, and the wealthy. But that is what satire is all about.

Only idiots need the warning that what they will read is a satire. Perhaps this is to avoid a lawsuit. But satire is no drug and does not require a BFAD warning. It is a work of art and has to be protected by rights to free expression.

Perhaps the Filipino people did Rizal wrong. They turned his satires into Holy Gospels and the satirist into a hero!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The irrelevant and relevant Philippine Left and the Nationalist Revolution

This is the flag of the relevant Philippine Left
Susan Quimpo published on Rappler.com an essay "Why we dismiss the Left" that has generated a quick response from the New Philippine Revolution on 'Why the Left remains relevant". The thing is that both points of view are correct!

The Left is both relevant and irrelevant. That depends on what Left you are looking at. Quimpo who lived through the PH Communist Left's self destruction in the 1980s has the right to say that the this Left has become ideologically petrified. Just look at the social media reactions to Jose Maria Sison's latest internet broadcast!

The other Left is willing to advance its political fortunes within the space provided by the 1987 post EDSA Constitution. In a sense they have been successful but not yet successful enough to capture national power.

There is another Left (which has been largely ignored by 21st century mainstream and social media) that has its incubator in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). My father who always believed that the Nationalist Revolution will eventually become triumphant, had an interest in studying the dynamics and ideology of this Left. My father and I had a lot of animated ideological discussions on this right after the ascendancy of the Cory Aquino regime in 1987.  Over dinner at some Chinese restos in Binondo, Dad and I had our ideological discussions.  My father was right in predicting what would happen in 20 years time. Too bad he isn't here anymore to see it. But perhaps that is his grace. He has been spared the future of years of ineptness and corruption leading to a defenseless Philippine Republic.

 The Aquino regime by restoring oligarchic privileges and the  Communists by rejecting participation in the 1986 Snap Election set back the Nationalist Revolution by several decades and betrayed the Filipino people.

If Cory Aquino had read more books on how to effectively seize (the easy part) and wield (the hard part) power, she would have not proclaimed a revolutionary regime whose only revolutionary act was not to use any revolutionary power at all!  A revolution is iconoclastic and in my opinion,  one can achieve the iconoclasm by retaining Parliament under the 1973 Constitution and since she is the magnanimous President in Parliament, she could have all the powers without removing continuity. She could have packed this Parliament with her people, completely achieving what is needed to be done in a raft of progressive legislation and initiatives. This is the Doy Laurel suggestion. The writing of a more democratic constitution could wait a few years. We know what Cory did to Doy!

I am sure Apolinario Mabini would agree. The Revolution should be secured first before we concern about constitutional form. A Revolution's main goal is social regeneration made possible by overthrowing of the old order.

The betrayal of the EDSA Revolution can be summed up by the failure of de Marcosification  and that no redistribution of wealth and opportunity ever was made. Towards the end of the 1990s came the Erap Cinematocracy (a liberation by illusion). The ironic thing is that the Cinematocracy was made possible by the masses that the Communists idolized.

The problem was the petrified ideologues cannot stomach going into coalition and never will. Even in the student politics of the Federal Empire of Diliman, they can't.

And so we lay down the irrelevance of the Left at this point. Nothing shows the irrelevance of the Left as in the ascent of the Cinematocracy. Of course the Cinematrocracy was eventually demolished by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Church and an constructive Supreme Court as reactionary elements. However Erap was no Hugo Chavez. Trapped in his own class he betrayed the masses.

But how do we assess relevance or irrelevance of the PH Left?. It is not in economic indices of the neoliberals and their ideas of trickle down economics or by sticking to Marxist or Maoist orthodoxy but by making sure that the Nationalist Revolution is triumphant.

But how do we make the Nationalist Revolution triumphant is the big question! Who will lead it?

I listened to National Artist Frankie Sionil Jose "incite" revolution at the Faculty Center of the UP in November 23, 2004. Here Sionil Jose as an agent of the Word (sensu Steinbeck!) that the central core of the Revolution is in our history and not in foreign intellectual idols like Marx. Lenin or Mao. In fact according to Sionil Jose,  the Communists idolatry of Mao and Maoism doomed the Communist attempt at revolution. The anti Chinese sentiment is always at the surface of PH society and one reason why CPP-NDF-NPA has no credibility among the majority of Filipinos  for it represents a foreign socialist ideology that is Chinese in its origin and praxis. Jose Maria Sison ignored the objective reality of vehement anti Chinese sentiment among the masses. And so 44 years later the Maoist revolution sputters on!

Again we have to look into our history. The leaders of the Nationalist Revolution were from the middle classes, educated and who were pragmatic enough to accept new ideas.

Sionil Jose believes that the fulcrum of the Nationalist Revolution would be the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In his essays, he notes that the majority of the officer corps of the Armed Forces comes from the lower classes. I attended the Left's tribute to Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution at the UP.  But Hugo Chavez isn't a Communist even he used Marxist analysis to critique Venezuelan society. But certainly he was nationalist.  He was more than willing to allow the oligarchy to exist only if they will support the nationalist Bolivarian ideology. He was  willing to deal with the USA on an equal footing if that will advance the nationalist ideology. In fact he did. Also Chavez had to go on coalition with a spectrum of Leftist parties.   Thus the singing of the "Internationale" at the gathering was very oxymoronic.  It would have been better if the Leftists sang our  first national anthem the Katipunan's "Marangal na Dalit"!

Also the Bolivarian Revolution started out in Venezuela's Armed Forces. The CPP-NPA would go into  knots of the Nationalist Revolution's ideology starts out from the AFP. And indeed it could for a nationalist ideology is always in the Armed Forces.

The Katipunan's ideology can be reflected in the Bolivarian ideology. The central tenets of Bolivarianism would easily fit in with the Katipunan's ideology.

  1. Economic and political sovereignty
  2. Grassroots political participation
  3. A national ethic of patriotic service
  4. Redistribution of wealth and opportunity
  5. Eliminating corruption

Bolivarian ideas obviously is rooted in Simon Bolivar's ideas and not in Marx, Lenin or Mao.  The Left at the gathering in focusing too much on Chavez' anti Americanism largely missed the point. For the irrelevance of the PH Left is that it is almost exclusively identified as anti American! I have had debated with LFS students who cannot get the idea and sense why if they claim to be nationalist they should like their detested rival partylister Akbayan, rage against Beijing's Imperialism!

 The Nationalist Revolution's main ideologue Apolinario Mabini had a political ideology but barely started on the economic side of it. Mabini admitted his limitations as he was not an economist but a political theorist and lawyer. The American imperialists defeated the nascent Republica Filipina. It would be interesting what economic ideology would have developed in a republic which had secured the Revolution. American imperialism made the Ilustrado class compromise but if the Revolution had been secured, I think there would have been massive redistribution of large landholdings. Mabini recognized that land was the problem, for the whole basis of Spanish domination rested on it and the Roman Church's domination too. It is still the problem and will be until the Revolution is victorious. In a sense the Mabini ideology was preserved by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. A historian can look into how the ideology was preserved and perhaps our Aglipayan brethren can help us.

A Lefty partylist group in Congress has filed a bill making a college course in Andres Bonifacio required as a counterpart to the Rizal Law instituted Rizal course. The problem is that Andres Bonifacio was not the ideologue. Any Bonifacio course would descend into personality stereotypes comparing him with Rizal. A better proposal would be to study the ideology of the Katipunan and their main protagonists. Perhaps this would make any idea of Revolution more relevant to the young.

The New Philippine Revolution says that revolution is inevitable and we will crave for it. I agree and social media will make it easier. But in our lectures on the Arab Spring revolutions  in UP Diliman's Science, Technology and Society classes, you still have to be on the streets but have to be more imaginative than defacing CHED's gates!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The University of the Philippines neoliberalist direction commits suicide

The tragic suicide of UP Manila freshie 16 year old Krystel Tejada, a daughter of a cab driver and a homemaker, allegedly due to her family's inability to pay the fees, has caused generated rage from the students, alumni, faculty of the publicly funded national university. And rightly so.

A retired professor emeritus exclaimed "That's because UP has become the university of the rich" "UP has to look into its soul which appears to have been lost"

The particulars of Ms Tejada's death and family's financial status has publicly come out and it is beginning to appear that she just fell through the bureaucratic net. And throughout this the issue of STFAP pops out.

Here I won't be speculating on her psychological state prior to her death. For that is not the major issue here and since I am not privy to her psychological condition. I will leave that to the professional psychologists and counselors, should they wish to elaborate on these.

My question is whether the neoliberal direction and policies of the national university has made the vulnerable fall through the vaunted safety nets. Many neoliberal policies have to be revisited including the much maligned Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance scheme.

Students as a sector of PH society are vulnerable, financially, emotionally and physically. (How many students have been forced to sell their bodies for tuition fees?) This is because education is in itself a commodity and the production of which requires capital. Education of the individual citizen unlike investments in housing while it  like housing appreciates in value, cannot be resold. Its equity is collective, such as in the general betterment of society where stability is the most precious factor.   Nonetheless,  all heads of government from Venezuela's 21st century socialist icon, Hugo Chavez all even the once socialistic, but meritocratic redistributionist, free market icon and  founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew knew that education has to be subsidized by the state since it is the best way of redistributing wealth. The state has to intervene or even determine the direction of education policies in basic education to ensure the nation  is stable. It is a given that higher education is autonomous in teaching and research. It is but it cannot be autonomous in its ways of profiteering from the vulnerable student sector.  Singapore heavily subsidizes public education at 20% of its national budget.

With this idea of redistribution of wealth through education, does UP's STFAP stand up to this? The answer is it doesn't. Redistribution is not just letting the fee paying subsidize those with a lesser ability to pay the fees. Redistribution means having the wealthy pay more taxes for public eduction (basic or higher) whether their kids pass the UPCAT and attend UP or any publicly funded university, or basic education schools or not. A redistributionist Philippine state would put a VAT on private education services. Anyway a lot of people put a higher brand equity on private education brands and so it is justified.  The United Kingdom has a VAT for private education and so does Ireland and so this is not a fancy idea. Singapore's 7% GST is partly funneled to public education subsidies. Singaporeans who opt to attend a private university will pay higher since they won't have the GST rebates and subsidies.  But with the taxes collected, this would mean the government should put a serious attempt to ensure that public education gets to spend its budget most efficiently.

UP's brand of socialized tuition cements class divisions in the national university. We have heard horror stories of parents and some students demanding privileges because they pay the bracket A fees! STFAP is not true redistribution of educational opportunities. It is another form of noblesse oblige and barely lessens the inequity in educational opportunities. In an inequitable society in UP or outside it, the poor have to face bureaucratic paperwork, a zillion photocopies while the haves can easily pay off someone to to this kind of paper pushing. This is a society where inefficiency guarantees inequity.

The administration says that all are subsidized by the state even the Bracket A'yers. It is true the true cost of a semester of UP education is around 90K PhP and the highest fee brackets pay only 22K at most.

But as former Student Regent Krissy Conti has it "Since when has been subsidizing the rich been mutually exclusive to subsidizing the smart?"

Yes, UP leads the nation on public educational policy and STFAP like policies are being proposed by CHED for publicly funded universities and colleges. Should we expect more tragedies?

It is time to revisit UP's policies and in the near term implement policies that improve student welfare, a department that UP is found extremely wanting. Revolutionary ideas and changes are needed.

But with the death of a freshie, these policies have committed its own suicide. It is not a quick death but a slow one. And we have to ensure it does die, so that a tragic untimely death would not have been in vain.