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Phillip Jackson.
Phillip Jackson.
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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]. 

Even in the face of a plethora of cases and anecdotal evidence, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration has consistently and persistently denied that there is political victimisation in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Having followed the case of Phillip Jackson, the question that has arisen is whether he is suffering the same or a similar fate of so many before him.

One such case, as the nation and the wider world will remember, is the systematic persecution and destruction, some say lynching, of businessman Leon “Bigger Bigs” Samuel and the fact that his multimillion dollar business still lies in ruins; and also how his children continue to crave for a tertiary education but are denied that opportunity because their father dared to support a political party that does not have the acronym ULP. In the case of Bigger Bigs, the leaders of ULP administration continue to deny that he was and continues to be politically victimised. However, the court of public opinion has, no doubt, already reached its own verdict on that one.

Whilst this piece is about Phillip Jackson and not Bigger Bigs, the pattern is ever so clear and the wrong done to Bigger Bigs is so egregious that whenever political victimisation is mentioned in SVG and perhaps elsewhere, his name cannot escape mention.

Phillip Jackson is a gifted son of the soil from Marriaqua. He is blessed with a brilliant mind and excellent communication and analytical skills. This can be easily seen and appreciated in his numerous writings and conference publications and presentations that can be found online. Most of you who know him will agree that speaking with Phillip on any topic is a real treat. He is the last of 12 children for his parents, Alfred and Jermine Jackson. He was raised with strong Christian traditions and sound family values. His parents, and particularly his dad (of blessed memory), have been pillars of the community in which Phillip was raised and still resides. Phillip obtained his early education in Marriaqua before moving on to the St. Vincent Grammar School for the culmination of his secondary education (having begun at the Mountain View Academy). During his time at the Grammar School, he won multiple awards at science fairs and went on to represent SVG that the regional level. Incidentally, he later taught at both schools and was at one time the head of the science department at the Grammar School.

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From information on his public LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, Phillip obtained a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in biological sciences from Universidad de Oriente in Cuba, and he later obtained a Master of Science in innovation management and entrepreneurship from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. Phillip also holds a certificate in Internet protocol and technology commercialisation from the University of California in Davis.

Following his tenure as head of the science department at the Grammar School, Phillip became the Science and Technology Coordinator in the Government service and he currently functions in that role in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Commerce and Information Technology.

With his wealth of experience and educational qualifications, Phillip applied for, and obtained, a scholarship to pursue a doctorate (PhD) in economic development policy at the University of the West Indies (UWI). The scholarship is a UWI-12+1 Scholarship and one is available to applicants from each of the countries of Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Island, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis and St Vincent & the Grenadines. Phillip was the one, from SVG, that received the award. One of the basis on which the scholarship was awarded is that the area of study is deemed to be a “priority research area” by one’s home country. It, therefore, means that having been awarded this scholarship, Phillip’s home country, SVG, deemed the area of study (economic development policy) to be a “priority research area” for SVG. In addition, in order to be awarded the scholarship, the home country must provide UWI with a “letter of endorsement” stating that the applicant is eligible for acceptance. The award to Phillip, therefore, means also that the relevant authorities in SVG endorsed him for the scholarship. According to a letter of award that was posted online months ago, Phillip was given two of UWI’s leading economists as supervisor and co-supervisor. Both men are directors of two of UWI’s leading research institutes in Cave Hill, Barbados. This is a most singular honour.

Having secured the scholarship, Phillip was due to commence his doctoral study in January 2016. He followed the correct procedure and applied for study leave and without being given any reason, study leave was denied to him. So what went wrong for leave to be denied when the relevant authorities had previously endorsed him for the area of study? Why is Phillip not at UWI pursuing his PhD in the “priority research area” of economic development policy as approved by SVG? And why is he denied study leave without any reason? Is it because he dared to support a political party that does not have the acronym ULP? Was the endorsement made with the underlying condition that he supports the ULP and so not having supported them he is being punished in the harshest of ways?

It is worth knowing that leading up to the last general elections on the Dec. 9, 2015, Phillip openly supported the New Democratic Party (NDP) and its candidate in his constituency of Marriaqua. Did that support, in any way, influence the decision to deny him study leave to enable him to move to the next level which, according to UWI, will equip him with “skills and knowledge to drive change and contribute to national development” — that no doubt will be of immense benefit to SVG? Is Phillip, therefore, being politically victimised or will we hear the usual excuse and denial?

Incidentally, and as an aside, both Phillip Jackson and Bigger Bigs are from the constituency of Marriaqua. Is this a mere coincidence or is there more? Is it because the ULP administration does not respect their own representatives (both former and current) for that area and so continues to castrate their men of intellect and influence, or is it that the representatives themselves acquiesce with their party?

Judge for yourself!

Brereton Horne

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

6 replies on “Govt ‘priority’ and political victimisation: the case of Phillip Jackson”

  1. It should be obvious to anyone living in SVG that Ralph Gonsalves will do anything to block destroy or at least discredit any over achiever that supports the NDP. Ralph obviously has a dream of making SVG into a one-party country possibly called Ralphistan, where to top office is a position reserved for only his family or relations. Too bad he cares far more for his party than he does about his country.

  2. Jeannine James says:

    This piece is well-written and thoughtful. As much as it is about Phillip Jackson, it is the chorus in the swansong to backward-leaning governance in a country that says it yearns for progress yet it rushes, at every opportunity, to embrace the lowest vibrations of spite, fear, fear-mongering, self-catering and all the attributes of global despots.

    Phillip Jackson came to my attention is either 2004 or 2005 as result of parental curiosity. I often overheard (and would interpret) the after-school discussions of his BGS students in our home about that day’s experience with “Mister Jackson”. He was connecting with these heirs in a powerful and positive way, That is a gift that political victimization, games and convenient gratuity ought never to be allowed to destroy, The good news is that others elsewhere will benefit so there will be no net loss to the world.

    I followed my curiosity all the way to a school class trip to La Soufriere from Windward (me having already been an efficient Leeward side climber of long standing). Phillip Jackson had taken the time and effort to invite and encourage parents to join the excursion. Let me add that this is a great vantage for parents to see their children in action.

    That invitation to parents might not seem like much if you look at it on the surface but his relationship with the students, the inheritors of SVG who are now in their early to mid-twenties, is where the rubber meets the road. I will add that events like these are super vantage points for parents to observe their children in action (if they stand back a little). I am now old enough and worn enough to accept that development hardly ever comes in under a revival tent or heaven forbid, does it get dragged out of a crusade. It is largely the work of individuals who are passionate about sharing their gifts.

    The delay, the grandstanding, the prurient navel-gazing, the misuse or even, the loss, will not, in the final reckoning, be Phillip Jackson’s or Bigger Bigs’ nor will it be the loss of whoever is next in line to be primitively “shamed”. Little by little, the damage will accrue to an SVG that might be least able to bear it.

  3. A most damning allegation of political victimization and ULP backwardness, in the vein of the Bigger Biggs destructiveness. How can our poor nation expect to progress in the environment of such nefarious political acts? How can our best and brightest intellectual commit themselves to return and sacrifice their talents for the good of our nation when they face such obstacles and discouragement?

    I hope Papa Doc will jump up and rectify this situation. If not, I pray that Mr. Jackson escape to a more mature and caring democracy where his talents and initiatives will be recognized and welcome. Certainly, with his current qualifications he might be an asset to the USA and Canada, both countries that recruit intellectuals on the basis of merit/qualifications.

    Thanks Bereton Horne. This is certainly a well-written, eye-opening piece. It brings back memories of a time when head teacher Ryan short-changed the chances of Isaac Legair, Osbourne Barnwell, Carlitha Thomas, me and others to enter the Grammar School and Girls High School by with-holding the date to take the common entrance exam from us. Not-withstanding, all of us have lived to overcome his stupidity and excel in our academic and professional lives..

    Vinci Vin

  4. Dear Mr Philip Jackson, cat got your tongue, or is it on loan to Brereton? Anyhow Brereton, what’s with this “Bigger Bigs” analogy that reeks of “systematic persecution and destruction”…which the leaders of ULP administration continue to deny…”? Who’s saying that the ULP victimized Bigger Bigs? John Q Public and yourself? Sure sounds like the usual “street talk” without merit. Bigger Bigs was and continue to be his worst enemy, and far from being any successful businessman in my book. And how does this tie in with Mr Jackson?
    Nevertheless, apart from all this grandstanding and grandiose “big-up manship” for Mr Jackson please tell us why after following …“the correct procedure and applied for study leave and without being given any reason, study leave was denied to him”. “Without being given any reason”? and your reasoning is…”because he dared to support” the opposition NDP? Please!
    Come again with a much better written appeal on behalf of Philip Jackson and not no “politricking”. Vinciman will be waiting patiently FOR THE REASON!

  5. And so it contiues. As a child, even though I passed the scholarship exam to get into GHS, I was not awarded a scholarship because of where I “came from”. Even though I am bred and born Vincentian, the then ruling party did not support my area. Myparents could not afford fees, so I was denied a secondary school education. I struggled and was mostly self taught. I started working for the Government, got some O;Level subjects, applied for and was accepted to UWI Mona to pursue a Masters on a scholarship. My study leave was approved, the Public Service Commission approved my scholarship. I was ready. Then the Minister in charge of the area I worked, with a stroke of his pen, denied me the opportunity. He did say my leave was approved, but I could pay for my education myself. The scholarship was awarded to a foreign worker who never again graced the shores of St. Vincent with his presence. I have sincea moved to the United States, obtained a Bachelors from a well respected university, and my Masters from an Ivy League University.
    Mr. Jackson, move on, move out. Others will appreciate your knowledge and skills and pay you more for it. Remember the old saying: A prophet hath no honour in his own country. You will miss the homeland that didn’t appreciate you, but you will get over it. You will prosper.
    There may be some envy there. Camillo and Isis don’t yet have PhDs, so if you stay here you may have to wait a while for yours.
    Good luck and God speed whatever you decide to do.

  6. Thats not true of the ULP Government . I know of someone who works in the Public service of St Vincent and the Grenadines who is not a ULP supporter and he/her coworkers know it and have applied and was given study leave sponsored by the Government not once, not twice but three times. The ULP Government promotes the educational advancement of the youth of SVG and is not into victimization where education is concern. Of course people will say it is political why he wasn’t granted study leave. look at it at another angle; other applicants who have never receive study leave applied and because he had it before they give it to someone who never had it.
    I am telling you this as a fact if he was that outspoken against the the Government back in the days of NPD i am telling you MItchell would of find a way to fire his ass.

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