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AT THE FOREFRONT OF STUDENT STRUGGLES

Forged by the need to uphold students rights and welfare and to foster unities against commercialization of education and campus repression, student organizations in UPLB formed Samahan ng Kabataan para sa Bayan (SAKBAYAN) in 1996. Sixteen years hence, SAKBAYANs legacy of student representation has become ever stronger, now being known as the largest and most diversified party-alliance in all of UP. It thereby goes without saying that the party-alliances interest can only encompass the concerns of the studentry as represented by its 60-strong assembly of fraternities, sororities, as well as varsitarian, academic, cultural, and socio-political organizations. Much has been said about SAKBAYANs critical stance on the pressing issues of the times. Through the years, our party-alliance has often been told that our advocacies are no longer called for and that we should give up the fight. But the state of UP education today and how it clearly manifests the abysmal condition of the Filipino youth would tell us otherwise. The recent onslaught of systematic assaults against peoples right to education and academic freedom has proven that our party-alliances significance prevails. History itself would draw parallel conclusions between the present-day crisis and its precursors. Flashback to 1997, students and their families faced a 221 percent increase in University dorm fees. UPLB students, including SAKBAYAN member organizations, found a way to express dissent through a weeklong barricade and three-day class boycotts which led to a march in UP Diliman. The same fee increases of basic student services have recently befell us. Our party-alliance shed tears of condemnation with future Iskolars ng Bayan when the UP administration implemented the 300 percent tuition and other fees increase in 2006. We have fought a difficult battle but the mere thought of young Iskolars and their families knocking at OSAs doors to grant their STFAP, and of those who are bound to face the tide of students filing for SLB loans, pushes us to intensify our call for a tuition increase moratorium, if not rollback. Together with the University Student Council and the alliance of dorm councils, SAKBAYAN led negotiations against the Revised Dorm Policy in 2001, which threatened to evict upper classmen from the place they considered as their second homes. The ghost of the Revised Dorm Policy still haunts the dorm premises today and the battle we waged a decade ago continues. SAKBAYAN considers the Filipino youths concerns as its own. The rising number of UPCAT passers whose dream to study in the nations premier state university have fallen to pieces because they could not afford the 1,500-peso per unit tuition, piqued our party-alliance as much as it does our

fellow youths. As continuing students, such as our very own USC standard-bearer, Ynik Ante, literally struggle to get their promissory notes approved because they have failed to raise enough money to enroll; as some of us are forced to file LOA to work the graveyard shift at call centers SAKBAYAN conducts dialogues, files petitions and rallies our members to join strikes against state abandonment of social services. We can rummage the archives of the UPLB Perspective to revisit SAKBAYANs unwavering tradition of militancy and service. Fists raised, together with fellow Iskolars, our party-alliance has been at the forefront of struggles, persistently gaining triumphsthen and now. The tug-of-war between the forces struggling for peoples right to quality education and academic freedom, and those who are hell-bent on pushing commercialization and repression lingers on. But our collective action assures us that we are marching forward, though protractedly, towards the achievement of our aspirations. Along with our longstanding commitments are urgent matters to be resolved and concrete reforms to be made. SAKBAYAN anchors in the past and heeds the necessities of the changing times. There were many attempts to challenge SAKBAYAN and the student movement. Our reputation is often maligned, and our security, threatened by black propaganda. As if repressive campus policies, such as arbitrary requirements for org recognition and no-freshmen recruitment, were not enough, our student leaders have even fallen victims to harassment. A lot of them faced trumped up charges in the Student Disciplinary Tribunal just because we get righteously agitated and tend to go the extra mile whenever students welfare is at stake. The battle of political colors has been taking its toll in UPLB since time immemorial. We have seen self-proclaimed student leaders challenging the brand of leadership that we bring with their empty rhetoric and vacillating stand on campus issues. Driven by their unworthy self-interest, they have compromised the hard-won gains of the student councils and the mark of true Iskolar ng Bayan. Now, more than ever, is the time to draw the line. This campus election, we are voting for our right to democratic access to education and academic freedom. We are voting against state abandonment and commercialization of basic social services. We are voting against campus repression. We are voting to end the hikes and assert our rights!

Boboto tayo sa SAKBAYAN! MAKIKIBAKA tayo kasama ang SAKBAYAN!