BOR, you have failed UP!

Dear UP Board of Regents (BOR),

When it comes to the eUP Project, you have failed UP! Please let that settle in for a while and hear us out, before even allowing yourselves to be dismissive of us calling you out. Perhaps not individually as regents but as Board, you have overlooked many crucial points.

1. Collusion?

According to this investigative report (full text here, here), PAEP met with Oracle about a year BEFORE bidding out the eUP project, or before his "benchmarking" exercises and "consultations" on the project. Reportedly PAEP, with UP on board, assured Oracle a foothold in the Philippine educational market. Such kind of colluding behavior or coordination between Oracle and principals is familiar elsewhere. The report also states numerous violations of RA 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act), including the tailor-fitting of procurement documents to favor Oracle.

2. No eUP business plan

Please ask yourselves this: did the BOR demand a business plan for the eUP Project that costs hundreds of millions of Filipino taxpayers' money? Have you really looked beyond PAEP's many assurances, beyond eUP's busy slides.

Besides so-called "benchmarking" exercises (aka travel junkets), did it ever cross your minds that such project tied to PAEP's empty sloganeering might have been ill-advised in the first place?

Did you honestly believe he knew what he was talking about, in the absence of a comprehensive eUP business plan?

3. eUP, the money pit, and vendor lock-in

UP needs Oracle no more than a fish needs bicycle. There's a number of alternatives out there (and within the University) that do not require vendor lock-in. eUP's argument of perpetual license for Oracle simply doesn't hold water, because perpetuity is not the issue. You can buy Windows XP and use it forever. But after sometime, the technological world around you zooms into the future, rendering your perpetual license useless. The version of Oracle's Campus Solutions was released sometime mid-2000s. Upgrading it now to new version can mean more hundreds of millions for new licenses, excluding millions more for re-customization and data migration. Many members of the UP community have always complained about budget cuts, but increased UP budget gives us no license to squander the Filipino taxpayers' money. How much spending would not have been done, had it not been for the poor choices made with eUP?

eUP's claim of "pagkakatipid" is ironic, at least.

4. eUP driving away IT talents

The same report cited above tells us how PAEP and his eUP ilk, with Oracle as a weapon of choice, drive away UP's very own IT talents by discouragement and defunding of IT projects done at the CU level. By picking commercial IT implementors, eUP throws away years of sacrifices by those who toiled for home-grown systems like CRS and SystemOne. eUP replaced community-oriented developers with mercenary coders and bureaucrats. SystemOne has already been a robust enrollment system before PAEP came. Yet, somehow, eUP needed to fix what's not broken.

5. Trusted but not verified

We understand that the BOR needs to stand behind the UP president. But how many times have PAEP hoodwinked you into believing the eUP Project is on course? We could understand political exigencies, when you as a body decided he was the "best" pick after his jockeying with sectoral reps of the Board in order to be elected UP president. Of course he deserved a chance. But his motherhood statements (with apologies to PAEP's mother!) and hackneyed slogans like "One UP," "making UP great," "quatum leap in UP infrastructure," should have been a giveaway that the guy is a bullshit artist. Did you even bother to verify what he has been reporting to you? Or is it still the case that he would rush you to make decisions on the basis of documents given to you on the day of the BOR meeting?

The UP community won't fault you for choosing an outsider to lead the University. But you'd be faulted for not insisting that PAEP understands UP problems before he'd start throwing money at them. What's going on with the eUP project is not reassuring at all. You won't be faulted for having the least credentialed president in UP history and, so far, possibly the most insecure UP administrator (what's with his insistence on being called "Dr Pascual" with no PhD and promoting himself in academic rank?). But you'll be faulted for falling for his rhetoric that hardly matches outcomes.

A dead eUP is good for UP. It is less wasteful than being locked in by Oracle and PLDT for a long time, brokered by some managers at ITDC. What has been spent is already sunk cost. For the wastefulness, PAEP will probably have his day in court. But killing eUP and giving the appropriate support back to autonomous CUs, as they help themselves and each other, is a step in the right direction.

You can redirect infrastructure money back to the CUs who know better how to improve their own situations. Having it centralized renders it vulnerable to power capture by self-appointed IT "experts" who can't even correct elementary mistakes in the eUP project. Sure, eUP bought many IT gears. But do we really need an eUP for that? If we do, where's the business plan?

We trust that you will do the right thing: exercise oversight on the eUP Project. Examine it dispassionately. From there, it won't be hard to see why many people want it put out.



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