How We Started…


MASP and its Formative years

 1986 signals dramatic change in the historical and political landscape of the country with the downfall of the Marcos authoritarian regime. The democratic space opened by the ‘people power phenomena’ in 1986 led to the mushrooming of civil and political society organizations with a mission to promote, protect, uphold and assert civil, political, economic and human rights in defense of the gains of the new democracy.

The new government initiated major changes such as the convening of the Constitutional Convention, reconstitution of the bureaucracy and several proposals and programs were planned to address the overdue social reforms but it did not match the expectations of the movement that put her into power. The 1987 constitution enshrines relevant policy statements on prioritizing the education sector and upholding academic freedom and recognizing the potential of the youth in nation-building and national development.

Aquino publicly endorses the formation of Congressional Commission on Education Reform with the purpose to reform the education system. Its output: rationalization of SUC, financing schemes for education, internal and external efficiency of school system, strengthening accreditation and enforcement of quality standard. However, the pronouncement does not suffice, the new government is not effecting genuine social reforms but rather it is doing exactly the opposite. Honoring debt servicing over education budget, massive ‘brain drain’, non-regulation of tuition fee are some of the manifestations of the new government’s rhetorics.

Primarily, there are two dominant paradigms in the student movement—the national democratic versus the social democratic tradition—which is an actual translation of the broader social movement’s paradigm since the 70s. The National Democratic Movement (e.g. KM-LFS-NUSP-CEGP) adheres to its ‘serve the people’ mass line compelled by the philosophically Maoist people’s protracted war in bannering an anti-imperialist, bureacratic and feudalist agitation and organizing lines. The Social Democratic Movement (e.g. DSKP-PDSP, YAFJ, church-based organizations) adheres to its ‘general welfare’ and ‘Christian-humanist’ framework built on a weak ideological foundation that could not withstand the upsurge of the student movement.

Striking a balance on the deficiency and extremities of ND/SD framework, BISIG conceptualizes ‘student unionism’ framework to reconcile the dichotomy of process-result/action-reflection model, between societal-parochial issue engagement, and waging a balance between national-local struggles in mobilizing and organizing the sector. As an organizational expression, the Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP) was founded in March 1, 1986. The name MASP was coined by Jim Libiran and Ayani Golez et. al. as an expression to popular notion and euphoria connected with the People Power. The conceptualization of the organizational values “Tunay na Pagpapakatao” and the “serve and empower” formula summarizes and distinguishes it from the dominant political rivals.

Foremost to its task was to organize students and to set up a student formation espousing the ideals of student unionism. At first, MASP initiated organizing work largely in PUP, PNU and UST through contact building and using contact within BISIG networks. Despite the lack of resources and experiences, the organization staged itself in capturing the imagination of the students in various universities and colleges nationwide and is positioning itself as an alternative among dominant national student organizations.

On a broader socio-political context, the neo-liberal economic framework through rapid industrialization towards “Philippines 2000” propels MASP to engage in national issues and concerns: oil deregulation, VAT, GATT-WTO, APEC Summit and other economic issues and concerns. The entire left movement is faced with “crisis of relevance” for failing to collectively formulate a more superior political project. The fragmentation of the ND signals a disarray and collapse of the many progressive centers and coalitions that lead to the vacuum in the leadership of the progressive force. In the YS front, SD group collapsed. The ND group collapsed and a new formation enters in the left political landscape: Kamalayan, a break away from the monolithic KM-LFS. While, MASP struggles and positioning itself as an alternative.

MASP operates in different schools and universities nation-wide.#

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