LEGAZPI CITY (28-Jan-2013) – “Kabataan Partylist is disappointed with how Akbayan blocked the House deliberation of the Students Rights Bill. It speaks of the duplicity of a partylist that claims to uphold students’ rights.”
This is the statement of an irate Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino, after being informed that Akbayan Partylist asked for the cancellation of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) hearing on the Students Rights Bill today.
Palatino filed House Bill 4842 or the “Magna Carta of Students Rights” last June 8, 2011. HB 4842 lays down the basic rights of students in the Philippines, including the right to organize, right of expression, academic freedom, right to information, right to participate in policy-making, and the right to due process in disciplinary proceedings.
The proposed bill also contains penalties for persons and educational institutions that will violate the provisions of the bill.
The CHTE has slated the first committee hearing on the said bill at 1:30 PM today, along with similar bills filed by other legislators, including a version filed by Akbayan Partylist Rep. Walden Bello.
However, a few hours before the hearing, Bello’s office requested for the cancellation of the said hearing, explaining that it was “already too late” for the bill to pass in Congress.
Starting today, there are only six session days remaining before session adjourns to give way to the campaign period.
“We at Kabataan Partylist are very disappointed with how Akbayan effectively blocked proceedings for the Students Rights Bill. We still have six session days, and the bill could have at least moved on to second reading if the proceedings today pushed through,” Palatino said.
According to a text message from the CHTE committee secretary, Bello “consulted with student groups” before asking the CHTE to cancel the hearing.
“We wonder what student groups Bello was referring to. Student councils and youth groups were prepared to sit down in the committee hearing today and harmonize conflicting provisions of our version of the bill and other versions pending in the committee,” Palatino said.
“As a matter of courtesy, Rep. Bello could have at least informed me of his party’s plan to cancel the technical working group deliberation today,” Palatino said.
“This incident just shows how insincere Akbayan is in pushing for students rights. Members of Akbayan, especially in schools and universities, have been trumpeting about their version of the bill for so many years. Yet when it is already up for deliberation, their very representative blocks it,” Palatino added.
“Akbayan’s explanation for cancelling the hearing today stands on shaky grounds. The deliberations today could have been a step forward for the Students Rights Bill. Having it up for deliberations at the committee level is not a futile exercise, but a small yet significant step forward for students,” Palatino explained.
“Sadly, we announce to the public that the Students Rights Bill is dead, as far as the 15th Congress is concerned. And it suffered a most cruel death – death brought forth by those who claim to defend it,” the youth solon said.
“The fight for the legislation of a bill that will genuinely protect and uphold the rights of students is far from over. Granted that Kabataan gains a seat in the next Congress, we will refile this bill and renew the indefatigable battle for genuine students’ rights,” Palatino ended.