News and UpdatesIn the NewsMayor’s appointment to SU BOT draws flak

Mayor’s appointment to SU BOT draws flak

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Several student leaders, and the SU Faculty Association joined the Noto174DumagueteIslands Coalition in a multi-sectoral silent rally on Dec. 6 protesting the appointment of Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo in the SU Board of Trustees.

Waving placards calling for reforms in the Board, the rallyists urged the Silliman BOT, headed by Chairperson Ricardo Balbido, to release official statement on the Nov. 10 nomination of City Mayor Remollo to the Board – which took various stakeholders by surprise.

The resignation by Remollo from the BOT on Dec. 5 did little to mollify the protesters, who decided to continue with the rally.

The rallyists demanded improvements in the process of selecting and retaining members of the highest policy-making body of the University, which is represented by the Silliman Alumni Association Inc. (SAAI), the United Church of Christ of the Philippines, and the SU Foundation Inc. (SUFI) which nominated the Mayor to the Board.

Remollo previously served as Trustee for 10 years from 2011 to 2021 representing the Alumni.

Remollo was then elected for a fifth term in the Board that would end in July 2028.

He attended the BOT meeting on Nov. 29 but withdrew his acceptance on Dec. 5, amid speculations of his plans for the tUniversity while he is lead proponent of the 174-hectare reclamation project along the boulevard that has been denounced by Silliman as anti-environment.

Sources from the Noto174DumagueteIslands Coalition, which initiated the silent rally, said rumors were rife since the last week of November about how the Dumaguete Mayor’s involvement in the policy-making at Silliman as a Trustee would affect the University’s anti-reclamation stand.

SU Student Government President Enrica Dinopol and Vice President Timothy Libres joined the rally with several other student leaders even though, they said, it is not an SUSG-initiated event.

The SUSG also released on Dec. 5 a statement signed as well by the respective governors of each College Student Council, following Remollo’s withdrawal.

The SUSG called for “accountability on environmental commitment” while pointing out how Remollo’s renomination to the BOT “raises questions about the University’s commitment to ‘walking the talk’ when it comes to environmental responsibility.”

They appealed to the University to uphold its values and environmental accountability by being transparent in the appointment of its leaders.

Prof. Jonathan Te, SUFA president, also criticized the BOT for their “blatant disregard of SU’s values, and the opinions of its experts”.

“The issue [now] is not simply about Mayor Ipe Remollo [withdrawing his acceptance as BOT Member] but the recklessness and mindlessness of the Board to accept him as a Member even [when] his stature and vision are radically-opposed to the mission of the University,” he added.

 

The Mayor’s withdrawal

Mayor Remollo had sent a letter to the BOT on Dec. 5 expressing his withdrawal, which took effect immediately.

He wrote that his role as City Mayor has caused, or will cause him to take actions that “may run roughshod with the sensibilities of certain stakeholders of our beloved Silliman University.”

To prevent the University from becoming “a battleground of conflict and divisiveness regardless of merit of the issues,” the Mayor said he decided to withdraw from his appointment as Trustee.

Since news about Remollo’s attendance in the Nov. 29 BOT meeting spread in private group chats on Messenger, the Noto174DumagueteIslands coalition had asked the people through social media to join a silent protest against the appointment to the policy-making body of Silliman.

Although Remollo’s name is listed as a BOT member in the SU website, the University never made an official announcement on Remollo’s Nov. 10 appointment.

The BOT, however, released a statement on Dec. 6 “expressing gratitude [to the Mayor] for his professionalism and continued support for his Alma Mater.”

 

Noto174 Coalition on Ipe’s appointment

Before Remollo’s withdrawal, the Noto174DumagueteIslands Coalition and Volunteer Network had sent a letter to the BOT expressing their “serious objection” to the Dumaguete Mayor’s appointment.

SU Law lecturer Atty. Golda Benjamin, Nancy Estolloso from the People’s Development Council, Aidalyn Arabe from the Save Mount Talinis Movement, Leo Mamicpic from the NoTo174Dumaguete Coalition, Dr. Aileen Maypa from the SU Institute of Environmental & Marine Sciences, and Ocean 6 swimmer Dr. Frances Hope Yap signed the letter.

“The Board of Trustees is more than just a governance body; it represents moral leadership and consistent principles,” they wrote.

“If elected, Mr. Remollo may have only one vote in the decisions made for the University but his mere presence and membership in the Board is a tragic message to the entire community that we are still willing to give power to a person whose values and commitments are inconsistent with the University’s,” they said.

The Coalition noted that Remollo has “made decisions and acted in a manner that is inconsistent with the values of Silliman University,” citing the reclamation projects embarked by the City government, and the Mayor’s determination to push for them.

 

BOT composition

Each of the three sectors in the BOT is represented by five trustees. The University President Dr. Betty McCann serves as an ex officio member with no voting power.

The current BOT is headed by Ricardo Balbido (SUFI) who was elected in 2016, whose term of office would have ended in 2020.

The vice chairmanship of the BOT, last held by Dr. Angel C. Alcala (SUFI), remains vacant following his death in February this year.

During Alcala’s term, in July 2021, the BOT released a statement “reaffirming SU’s opposition to reclamation projects”.  It particularly cited the reclamation project proposed by Dumaguete Mayor Remollo.

“I understand the appointment of Mayor Remollo in the BOT does not change the stand of the University on the reclamation issue,” said Silliman Trustee Atty. May Saga Aguilar-Pono (Alumni).

 

SU BOT response

In a letter sent to the Silliman campus paper on Dec. 7,  BOT Chairman Balbido noted that the “clamor for reforms on policies as manifested in the silent protest appears to be centered on the impression that the University stand on ‘No to 174 Reclamation’ is compromised”.

“This is far from the truth,” Balbido Jr. said. “The BOT remains steadfast and firm on its stand on reclamation projects, and no event shall diminish [our] conviction on this environmental advocacy.”

In a separate letter to the SUSG sent Dec. 6, Balbido said: “We maintain that as an academic institution, we should not alienate people forwarding ideas even opposite ours, and even restrained through healthy debates because this is the very essence of our academic being.” (Natania Shay Du, with reports from Angelique Kara Sorbito/SU Masscom Com33 interns)

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Photo Caption: A multi-sectoral silent rally is held along Hibbard Ave. to denounce the recent action of the SU Board of Trustees appointing to the policy-making body the Dumaguete Mayor who is the lead proponent of the 174-hectare reclamation rejected by Silliman University. (Frances Hope Yap photo)

 

 

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