Feb. 13, 2015, 5:10 p.m. – A TECHNICAL working group has been formed by the Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) and the Committee on Basic Education and Culture (CBEC) of the House of Representatives to draft a Magna Carta of Students, a bill that has dragged in Congress for almost 15 years.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman will serve as chairman of the technical working group, while Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon and Akbayan party-list Rep. Ibarra Guiterrez III will serve as co-chairpersons.

Four house bills (HB) that tackle students’ rights and welfare, namely HB 102 by Lagman, HB 1098 by Ridon, HB 2870 by representatives Diosdado Arroyo and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and HB 4435 by Guiterrez and Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello, will be consolidated by the technical working group.

In a joint meeting of the CHTE and CBEC on Feb. 11, A Teacher party-list Rep. Mariano Piamonte, Jr. said some of the provisions in the bills were “contentious and controversial,” noting that there should be equal protection for the academic freedom of the administration and students.

“I confirm the issue has been lingering for the last 15 years. [We] are not against the entire [bill]. We are against contentious and controversial [provisions] related to management rights and prerogatives,” Piamonte said. “This magna carta is simply a compendium of student [rights] already expressed in the manual of regulations of higher education institutions (HEIs) [and] laws like the anti-hazing and many others.”

Marc Lino Abila, president of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, said the protection of students’ rights was a “paramount concern.”

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“The Constitution recognizes the vital role of youth in nation-building and in effect, mandates that all education institutions should inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster our respect for human rights, and teach the rights and duties of citizenship,” Abila said. Roberto A. Vergara, Jr. and Jerome P. Villanueva


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