The controversial “no late payment” policy being implemented by the University of the Philippines Manila which is being linked to the suicide of a college freshman has been suspended as per announcement of its Chancellor Dr. Manuel Agulto late Tuesday.
In an official statement issued by Agulto, the decision was announced to administrators during a “very civil” dialogue with UP Manila student leaders and faculty while discussing certain issues related to the financial process for enrollment.
In a directive released to all Chancellors and UP Cebu Dean, UP President Alfredo Pascual said that in view of the issues raised regarding the late payment of tuition and other school fees, “I am enjoining all chancellors to allow a reasonable amount of time for registration and payment of fees.”
Agulto explained that this means that the “no late payment policy” has been lifted. “Any student with financial constraints will no longer have any problems with regard to tuition fee payment deadlines,” he added.
The announcement on the suspension of the policy followed the suicide of 16-year old Kristel Pilar Mariz Tejada, a Behavioral Science student at the UPM last Friday. Since the news broke out UP has been under fire particularly when it comes to its existing tuition and enrollment policies.
Tejada's suicide by way of ingesting lethal amounts of silver cleaner, occurred two days after she filed her Leave of Absence (LOA) from the University dated March 13.
To mourn her death, the Oblation statue was covered with black cloth as classes and work at the UP-Manila were suspended on Monday (March 18). UP faculty members, administrators and students along with other youth groups also vowed to hold a “Week of Mourning and Protest” as a “call for justice” for Tejada. Campus strikes in all UP campuses has also been set until March 20 to call for changes in the country’s education system. Other schools, such as the University of the Philippines (PUP), are also expected to hold solidarity protests as a show of support to the changes in the education system being called for by UP students and other youth leaders.
Amid all these, “finger-pointing” and “hand washing” continue to surround Tejada’s death. Many people have blamed the very institution for being “inconsiderate” to students who are struggling with their tuition. Others put the blame squarely on the government for “not prioritizing education” through low budgets provided to public SUCs and its “inability” to regulate tuition hike in many private HEIs. Some even criticize Tejada’s parents—part-time taxi driver Christopher and housewife Blesilda—for “not providing” for their child, while still blame the Tejada, herself, for “not being strong enough” to face her problems.