The former professor of acting Justice Secretary Alberto C. Agra has finally spoken to refute his student’s claim that he was exonerated of cheating in a law subject exam, which he took 22 years ago at the Ateneo de Manila University Law School.
Atty. Avelino Sebastian Jr. said that if Agra was indeed exonerated by the school’s investigating committee that inquired into the reported cheating, how then could the acting justice secretary explain why was Agra the only one who flunked the Wills and Succession subject in 1988, out of seven students who reportedly cheated?
WHEN I was asked by PCIJ to comment on the allegation that Secretary Agra cheated in an exam that I gave in Law School, I declined the request for a number of reasons: (i) I thought that Secretary Agra and I had settled this issue back in 1993 when we talked about it; (ii) I thought that this regrettable episode has no bearing on the controversy that he now faces; (iii) I do not wish to be dragged into an unpleasant and adversarial discussion; and (iv) I thought it would be unfair to drag other people into this mess since they are not involved in the reputational disgrace which Secretary Agra recklessly inflicted upon himself. However, since he fired the opening salvo by stating that I “maliciously” charged him with cheating, I am constrained to respond to his accusation.
Our latest offering is a series of stories about the gigs, gimmicks and exploits in college of three candidates for president — the Liberal Party’s Benigno C. Aquino III, the Nacionalista Party’s Manuel B. Villar Jr., and the Lakas-Kampi’s Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.
These stories were written by communication students who are now working with the PCIJ on internship basis. We sent them out to field to discover how these candidates were like when they were students their age.
HIS LAW SCHOOL study buddies spew out superlatives when asked for proof that Gilberto Cojuangco Teodoro Jr., candidate for president of the administration Lakas-Kampi party, is true “Galing at Talino.”
Teodoro finished at the top of his class at the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1989. The same year, he passed the bar with a score of 86.185 percent, landing No. 1 among thousands of examinees.
It was the late sixties, and while the rest of the world was into Woodstock and Marxist revolutions, Filipino students were slow to challenge authority. For Manuel Bamba Villar Jr. and his Thursday Club buddies, life was about finishing college, having fun, and catching a good movie now and then.
Much has changed since then. The young man clad in jeans and t-shirt then now wears tailored suits and owns more than a billion pesos in assets. The boy who was called “Bamba” by friends – after his middle name and after a popular song of the sixties, Villar would later don the titles of congressman, Speaker, senator, and then Senate president. The boy whose only aim then was to finish college now seeks the Presidency of the Republic.
IN THE SUMMER of 1977, four young students graduating from the Ateneo de Manila high school applied for the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program, hoping to become Air Force cadet officers when they start their first year of college in the Ateneo University.
The fact that they wanted to become military cadet officers was in itself unusual; at that time, military training for male students was compulsory, and most students avoided the training like the plague by pulling strings or calling in favors in order to get medical or special exemptions.
It has been almost a year since fighting broke out between government forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after the Supreme Court struck down the Memorandum Agreement on Ancestral Domain. While the story of the continued fighting still makes headlines, the story of the refugees who fled the fighting has been dropped from the frontpages and the line-ups of the major newscasts.
NAGA CITY’S successes in its poverty alleviation efforts no doubt allowed it to focus its resources on improving access to basic services like education. But all its education reform efforts could not have been possible without its reinvention of the local school board.
The transformation began in 2001, when the MDGs were largely unheard of and a national government directive for the goals to be localized and included in development planning processes was yet forthcoming. But Naga’s decision then to revamp the school board’s orientation and organizational structure later put the city in a better position to address the gaps in achieving the MDG targets in education.
NAGA CITY, CAMARINES SUR — If one were to put local governments in a classroom setting, the executive body of this thriving city southwest of Metro Manila would be the overachieving nerd, the one guaranteed to garner the most medals at the end of each term.
So when Naga City received a failing grade in one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — achieving universal primary education — local officials characteristically lost no time in dreaming up a program aimed at improving its score. It’s a situation made even more challenging by the city’s demographics: one out of every three Nagueño is of school age. But as Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo put it, “We need to address the continuing inability of our school system to ensure that no child is left behind.”
KAHIKUKUK, BANGUIGUI, SULU — Asaali Muhalli is no ancient mariner, but there was a time when his lament was practically an echo of that of the protagonist in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem: “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.”