UP Manila officials face admin raps over Tejada suicide

by Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 22 2013 10:42 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2013 06:42 AM

MANILA -- Two lawyers, both graduates of the University of the Philippines (UP), have filed administrative charges  before the Office of the Ombudsman against 2 UP Manila officials in connection with the death of freshman Kristel Tejada.

Tejada, a 16-year-old Behavioral Sciences student, supposedly took her own life after her family could no longer pay her tuition.

Rudyard "Sonny" Avila and Argee Guevarra said UP Manila Chancellor Manuel Agulto and UP Manila Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Marie Josephine de Luna are "culpable" for the suicide of Tejada.

Agulto and de Luna are facing charges of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for their issuance of a memorandum delisting students who are unable to pay tuition and forcing them to file a leave of absence (LOA).

The university's "no late payment" policy allegedly drove Tejada to kill herself.

Avila slammed the issuance of the memorandum as "a betrayal of the UP Charter's declared policy of promoting, nurturing and protecting the right of its students to accessible quality education and for violating UP Manila's contractual obligation - imbued with public interest -- to its student as enunciated by the Supreme Court in PSBA vs. Court of Appeals."

Avila also lamented the officials' "cold-blooded harshness" in their appreciation of Tejada's financial situation.

Guevarra, for his part, said the university's decision last Wednesday to lift the policy and to institute reforms came "too little too late, and obviously came as an afterthought and at the heels of the public outcry over the Tejada suicide."

The two lawyers said filing the cases against the two UP Manila officials will serve as a warning to education officials that they will be held accountable for their "patently abusive and oppressive actions and policies."

"Kristel Tejada, in death, has become a symbol for the aspirations of millions of Filipino students who all yearn for a liberating educational system that does not seek to marginalize and disenfranchise them due to poverty," they said.