UP board to elect next president on Dec. 9

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 8) – The next president of the University of the Philippines (UP) will soon be selected by the institution's board of regents (BOR).

On Friday, Dec. 9, the UP BOR will convene to select the president of the premier state university. The new president will serve UP’s eight constituent units from 2023 to 2029.

Six candidates are in the running for the post: Patrick Alain Azanza, president of the Catanduanes State University since 2021; Salvador Belaro Jr., former 1-Ang Edukasyon party-list representative and current dean of the College of Law at Wesleyan University of the Philippines; Angelo Jimenez, a former UP Regent from 2016 to 2021; Fidel Nemenzo, sitting UP Diliman chancellor since 2020; Fernando Sanchez Jr., former chancellor of UP Los Baños (UPLB) from 2014 to 2020; and Benito Pacheco, a professor at the UP Diliman (UPD) College of Engineering since 2006.

As the election date approaches, students and faculty members of the university expressed concern about the candidates and their handling of the entirety of the UP System (UPS) and its constituents.

Kinakatakot natin ‘yong pagiging anti-democratic na UP president na mapipili nila. Mayroon ‘yong threat for us students na magiging commercialized lalo ang education, mas gagawing profit-making ang mga campuses rather than a space for learning,” UPD Student Council Chairperson Latrell Felix said Thursday.

[Translation: We are afraid that they might select an anti-democratic president. There is the threat to us students that education will be further commercialized, campuses will be more for profit-making than a space for learning.]

Mon Sy, a faculty member of UPD’s College of Arts and Letters said, “gusto natin ng (we want a) UP president who will continue the tradition not only of honor and excellence but also of service to the people. Someone who will protect labor rights, someone who will stand for academic freedom of university faculty, students, and staff”

One issue that the next UP president will inherit is the university’s reduced budget in 2023.

UPS’s proposed budget for 2023 was ₱44.1 billion. Under the Department of Budget and Management’s 2023 National Expenditure Program, the UPS was given ₱21.85 billion.

UPS’s budget includes funding for the Philippine General Hospital.

The current budget is ₱24.9 billion.

Meanwhile, a student coalition dubbed the No More Chances Sanchez coalition (NMCS) condemned the candidacy of former UPLB chancellor Sanchez.

“Sanchez is anti-student – a sentiment made clear by the countless protests done against him during his six-year tenure as chancellor… While in other campuses, MRR-readmission cases would easily be resolved, over 600 of these cases piled up over the UPLB administration’s desks,” the NMCS said in its unity statement.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Kaithreen Cruz contributed to this report.