Editoryal: “Batu-Bato sa Atin,” or a Short Critique of UP Partisan Politics

The University is famed for its students who are vigilant and critical of the failures of Philippine social systems. But when conflict brews within its own confines and crevices, there is an obvious UP cultural element that has an insidious effect on its students' solidarity. That element is none other than the division caused by partisanship.

We know more than anyone that being able to air an opinion even if it is contrary to those who belong to the same ranks is an exemplary display of a functioning democracy. But we also have to be cautious of straying away from the borders of decency. If we place malice on others' take on matters just because we label them blue, red, yellow, or whatever, we mistakenly go into a heated contest of who is more critical. This only, more often than not, leads to a foul, frustrating and directionless attempt to justify our own hues.

So many matters that affect the student body have gone unresolved, or been hostilely approved, because of the divisive partisan culture of UP politics. Stray as we may from the sight of it, it is glaring. Opinions regarding the student code, the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection, and other university-wide and local issues, resonate of a divided student body. Even projects with the same aim go by a different name; which, under the flag of one party, ends up becoming an entirely different project altogether.

One cannot force opinions upon another, because fascism is a word strongly detested by any color. But when arguments go circular because compromise is unthinkable, one has to think twice whether one is holding on to a belief only because it is what's right, or also because of a tradition that one must be in opposition to the other. Are the specific differences between what we stand for really irreconcilable, or are they irreconcilable because we stubbornly hold on to the idea that we have to be different from one another?

Just taking the inquiry on the impeachment complaint on CSSP Chairperson James Bagcal and of eleven other council members later on as an example, we can see how even vocabulary reveals the infrastructure of our partisan foundations. Words like kampihan and pinagtulungan, and the rebuttals that were judged paliku-liko, all led to a controversy that was, with frustration, paikut-ikot, paulit-ulit. But at the end of the day, it is unfair for both sides that malice was placed upon their actions simply for their being from two different parties.

As a lot of us are caught up in the tumultuous alternation of quarrels and ceasefires, we end up neglecting the work we originally wanted to do for our fellow Iskos and Iskas. At the end of the day, there are a lot of them who choose to be apathetic instead of taking a stand--surrendering any chance of participation to solid, unified action--because they don't want to be burdened by the divisiveness of partisanship.

This means, sadly, that our petty and biased fights have contributed to political desaturation among some of our fellow students: those who we initially wanted to invite to our cause, but ended up merely confused as to what exactly that was. ▪