LINGAYEN, Pangasinan -- As in the proverb opening a can of worms, the expose on the internship program of the Pangasinan State University (PSU) served as an eye-opener to university students, who said they were inspired by one courageous alumnus.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a student leader divulged several other anomalies involving university officials, especially Dr. Merlita Q. Santos, dean of the Lingayen Campus.
Even before the internship scam hit the newsroom, a petition signed by more than 3,000 students of the Lingayen Campus has been circulating, according to our unnamed source.
Addressed to the PSU Board of Regents, the petition specifically called for the replacement by an OIC of the current dean. Saying the BOR has not yet confirmed Santos due to an on-going investigation, the students said they applaud the BOR decision to defer her confirmation.
"We do not like Dr. Merlita Q. Santos to be our dean because she has suppressed student organizations from being accredited; repressed the Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay scholars... and oppressed students... mediated in student organizational matters," the student petition reads.
Other officers of the Central Student Council corroborated the principal source's allegations saying that Santos even orally ordered the student services not to allow Sangguniang Kabataan and children of Barangay officials to enrol without paying the necessary school fees. These are entitled scholarship grants under a republic act.
"A lot of local government scholars were unable to enrol in June because of this," Jerome T. Baraquio, CSC vice-president told the media in an interview.
Santos reportedly claimed that the school is being deprived of its income from tuition and other school fees due to the said SK and Barangay scholarships, which remained uncollected. She claimed the scholars could always get a refund from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Many students reportedly depend on the SK and Barangay scholarships.
At least three religious student organizations remained unaccredited because Santos denied their accreditation, said Rhey Mark Bermudez, also a CSC officer.
In a separate statement, CSC President Rowell dela Cruz said Santos has suppressed student practice teachers by not releasing their class cards long after they have finished their term under her. Because she has failed to release their grades, the education students could not pursue with their practice teaching, which is a requirement for graduation.
Dela Cruz also mentioned about the meddling of Santos in the procurement of student nameplates, which they found too costly for its poor quality.
A more strongly worded statement came from Ronald Allan Manipor, 4th year AB-English student, who said that the Lingayen campus has been transformed into a "martial-law campus" since the assuption of Santos as dean.
Manipor dwelt on various collections that Santos initiated. One is the P50 per adding/dropping out form, another is the P20 per page for examination sheets and still another is the P350/ticket Santos collected when students from ther schools paid only P75 for a seminar in the same time and venue.
Santos also allegedly requires students to attend make-up classes on Sundays and holidays, defying university rules that disallow the use of the campus during such days.
"It is an additional expense on both the school and the students," one of the student leaders said.
Worse, Manipor alleges that Santos delays the signing of transcripts to force the students to treat her and her staff to lunch or simply pay P1,000.
In December, she was organizing a field trip to Star City, IBC 13 and Enchanted Kingdom for P2,000 per student. The plan was foiled, though, because students could not afford it.
Santos in her reaction to the collection of the fees for a field trip said, "it was not compulsory."
Student leaders, however, said it is required of every student in a class lest she/he be given a term paper to submit in just a few days.
While the student leaders claim popular support for the ouster petition, some, if not most, in the faculty are for the ouster of Santos, because she did not get any BOR confirmation, she did not earn her doctorate through hard labor, and does not have any right to sign documents for the school.
PSU Lingayen Campus has a little more than 5,000 students. # V. Ramo