‘Not owned by political clan’: Opposition vs proposed renaming of Central Bicol State University of Agriculture

October 14, 2021 - 6:09 PM
Photo uploaded on the CBSUA PIO Facebook page on Sept. 29, 2021. (Photo from Facebook/Cbsua Pio)

A lawmaker’s proposal to name a state university after his late father earned opposition from the institution’s administrative council, as well as the students and faculty members.

Two Reddit users on Tuesday posted about House Bill 10170 or “An Act Renaming the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) in the province of Camarines Sur to the Gov. Luis R. Villafuerte University of Agriculture.”

A political family is trying to rename my alma mater! HB 10170 – Renaming of Central Bicol State University of Agriculture to Gov. Luis R. Villafuerte University of Agriculture from Philippines

Andaming basurang politiko, juicekolord from Philippines

Sponsored by Rep. Luis Raymund “Lray” Villafuerte (Camarines Sur, Second District), House Bill 10170 seeks to “honor” his father’s memory and advocacy.

The bill said that Villafuerte Sr. had “fervently advocated and fought” for the Camarines Sur State Agricultural College to be converted into Central Bicol State University of Agriculture.

“The institution’s conversion into a university positioned it to provide advanced instruction and research in agriculture and allied technological sciences including education, arts and related sciences,” the House Bill read.

The younger Villafuerte described his father as “Camarines Sur’s longest-serving governor” and was “one of its most prolific and passionate legislators.”

“His unrelenting dedication in championing the agriculture and education sector is shown in his active participation as CBSUA’s Board Member until his demise on 08 September 2021,” he said on his proposed bill.

The elder Villafuerte passed away at 86 years old.

Reports note that HB 10170 was approved by the House of Representatives Committee on Higher and Technical Education.

It was thumbed down by Rep. Gabriel Bordado (Camarines Sur, Third District) due to the issue of “politics” and the need for the stakeholders to be consulted first.

CBSUA’s proposed name change also met opposition from the members of the CBSUA Administrative Council who said that while they recognize the elder Villafuerte’s contributions to the institution, it “does not and should not extend to renaming the university after his.”

“Let us not discount the men and women who came before him and who were behind the founding and flourishing of this institution. The university has been in existence for the past 103 years and it remains steadfast on its core to serve the Bicolanos and the community,” the administrative council said in a statement.

“We see no compelling reason to change its name,” it added.

The CBSUA Faculty Federation likewise expressed its opposition against the bill and said that the institution’s “reputation as a premier institution of higher learning cannot be attributed to a single individual or a certain group of people.”

It said that the university’s reputation should be attributed to “the collective efforts of all its stakeholders across the years of its bemedaled history.”

“This legislative measure denies us with the true and legitimate meaning of representation. Thus, without listening to the stakeholders is a disservice to the people to whom the power to represent emanates,” the faculty federation said.

Students also disapprove of the proposed name change.

The Stateans Online, the official school publication of CBSUA, released infographics about the proposed renaming of the academic institution, accompanied by the hashtags “#LetCBSUAnamestay,” “#NoToNameChange” and “#JunkHB10170.”

CBSUA’s College of Veterinary Medicine-Student Council also released a statement which said that the institution “is not owned by any political families nor it is indebted to.”

“CBSUA is established for all Bicolanos to whom it always belongs,” it added.

Villafuerte Sr. served in public office for over 40 years as an assemblyman, congressman, trade chief, secretary of government reorganization under late President Cory Aquino and as Camarines Sur governor.

Last July, another Villafuerte, Camarines Sur Gov. Migz, gained attention for appearing in a publication material of another institution offering free Adobe Photoshop classes despite not being the instructor.

He was accused of being “epal” for the inclusion of his photo in the pubmat.

The anti-epal provision or General Provision 82 of the adopted 2021 National Budget prohibits government officials from self-promotion acts.

“Under the Anti-Epal provision, government officials, whether elected or appointed, are banned from self-promotion through placement of names, pictures, or otherwise on programs, projects, and any other initiatives that are funded by the government through the General Appropriations Act,” the Anti-Red Tape Authority said.

The provision was authored by Sen. Grace Poe, who said that it is taxpayers who “fund the projects and programs” of the government.