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PIA Press Release

Feature: Schools as venues for political debates

By Venus H. Sarmiento

Dagupan City (22 March) -- School campuses have been the foremost venue of many national political debates. In the local scene, school administrators are also amenable to having their campuses as "battle ground" for healthy political discussions.

Commission on Higher Education chairman Emmanuel Angeles said political forums or debates allow candidates to speak before the student body and faculty.

"You cannot make an assessment who is the rightful candidate to win (if you haven't heard them). That's why it's better that the colleges should adopt a candidates' forum to assess and evaluate candidates for public office," Angeles said during his recent visit to Dagupan City.

School administrators in the province are also open to the idea.

Pangasinan State University president Victoriano Estira said the school is open to political debates as long as it would be disseminated well. "There must be a good number (of participants) to attend the fora considering that there are a lot of things that should be talked about particularly the forthcoming national elections and local problems on climate change and even environment," Estira said.

In dealing with climate change, he said, students have their own kind of participation particularly in National Service Training Program (NSTP) and Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS). Student leaders must help find a way to address this problem because if left unabated, it will be a destruction to the environment, he explained.

Lyceum Northwestern University President Gonzalo T. Duque said a local TV station is using his school's facilities for its political discussions. "LNU is open to political forums irrespective of my personal preference because an educational institution should be the bulwark of democratic discussions," Duque said.

School administrators of the University of Luzon also said the campus is an open ground relative to the conduct of candidates' forum.

Dr. Ofelia C. Rayos, Vice President for Academic Affairs of the University of Pangasinan-PHINMA,said there is a need to define the parameters of the forum and identify the real organizers. "There must be no orientation on political preference so as to remain neutral. There are campaigners in the guise of a political fora, so this must be taken into consideration," Rayos said. (PIA-Pangasinan) [top]

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