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UP budget slash marks APO run in Los Baños campus

First Posted 06:02:00 12/16/2010

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna?The annual Oblation run at the campus of the University of the Philippines (UP) here pushed through Wednesday despite the fact that the university has not restored its recognition of the local chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity, the group behind the yearly run.

Unlike in previous years when the runners smeared charcoal on their bodies, 30 fraternity neophytes ran naked around the campus with their faces painted yellow and blue and heads covered with white shirts.

The naked runners also chanted and carried placards that said: ?no to P1.39 B budget cut in UP.?

The proposed 2011 state budget became a hot issue after several students were enraged by the P650-million slash in the government?s allocation for education.

Under the proposed budget, state colleges and universities (SCUs) would get P23.4 billion, which is 1.7 percent lower than in the previous year.

The National Union of Students in the Philippines also earlier said that P75 million for faculty scholarships was slashed in the 2011 budget.

Carla Bertulfo, deputy secretary general of the student alliance Sakbayan, said UP was losing P1.39 billion in the new budget allocation.

She said among the possible consequences would be an increase in the fees of the university-owned dormitories, which were less costly than those run privately outside the campus.

Student activists gathered around the naked runners in front of the UPLB Oblation statue also protested the large class policy, a newly implemented scheme that increased class size from 25-40 students to 120-175 students.

Student protesters said the scheme affected the quality of education.

Meanwhile, the fraternity?s chapter here has remained an ?unrecognized? organization since the death of student Marlon ?Along? Villanueva, who reportedly died during the fraternity?s initiation rites in 2006.

Unrecognized student organizations are not given the permit to conduct activities or use the university?s facilities.

In August, APO was again put in a bad light, after Carl Intia, a student from the University of Makati, was allegedly killed in hazing rites before his body was dumped in a ravine in Sta. Maria town in Laguna province.

The fraternity?s name was also dragged in the investigation of the grenade attack outside the De La Salle University campus that injured close to 50 people on the last day of this year?s bar examination.

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