Volume XC • April 10, 2018 • Special Coverage of the UST Central Student Council Elections
With the removal of “abstain” in this year’s ballots, it is high time to be critical in choosing the next set of Thomasian leaders.
No ‘party’ in student polls this year Former CSC officers vie for highest post Know more about the presidential candidates and their proposed solutions to important University issues. Page 4
Independent bets gain ground in this year’s CSC elections. Does this prove a loss of confidence in a party-run council? Page 2
2 Botomasino Editor's Note
Exercise the power to vote THIS YEAR’S student elections in UST has met quite a few yet telling changes. For one, all of the candidates are running as independents, which a spillover effect of last year’s election results in which only the independent bets won seats in the Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board. Voting has switched back to electronic from manual in the hopes of a more convenient and secure way of voting. But the most talked-about change is the UST Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) removal of the option to “abstain” from the choices in the ballot in compliance with the order of the Central Judiciary Board last year, which said the Comelec violated the UST Students’ Election Code (USEC) of 2011 by including “abstain” on the 2017 ballot. In the absence of “abstain,” students can however choose not to vote for anyone in any position, in which case the vote will be considered “unanswered.” However, leaving the position unanswered would have no bearing as candidates with the highest votes will still win as long as the voter turnout does not go below 25 percent of the student electorate, which has not happened in recent elections history in UST. In last year’s elections, “abstain” gave Thomasians the chance to reject the candidates who were deemed unfit for posts in the council. Thus, removing it limited the choices to the candidates who ran for the positions, whether they were worthy or not. Despite this drastic change, Thomasians should not be discouraged to vote. Thomasians should continue to raise the bar for student leaders, scrutinize candidates and actively participate in the elections. Likewise, fundamental principles and rules like the CSC Constitution and the USEC should be amended and improved to adapt to the changing times, so that technicalities would no longer be used against the students. As for those gunning for seats in the CSC Executive Board, let last year’s results be a lesson and reminder that the Thomasian electorate has grown tired of candidates who fail to exhibit steady and powerful stances on important issues, and that students no longer trust those who rely on rehearsed speeches and recycled platforms. *** To help Thomasians decide who to vote and how to vote wisely, the Varsitarian has again published Botomasino – a special supplement on the 2018 UST student elections. With this supplement, the Varsitarian hopes that students will take a stand, participate actively in the elections and elect the leaders they deserve.
FOUNDED JAN. 16, 1928 AMIERIELLE ANNE A. BULAN Editor in Chief BERNADETTE A. PAMINTUAN Managing Editor ALHEX ADREA M. PERALTA Associate Editor MARIA CRISANTA M. PALOMA News Editor HANNAH RHOCELLHYNNIA H. CRUZ Assistant News Editor CHRISTIAN DE LANO M. DEIPARINE, THEODORE JASON PATRICK K. ORTIZ Online Editors RANDELL ANGELO B. RITUMALTA Sports Editor NEIL JAYSON N. SERVALLOS Special Reports Editor CHELSEY MEI NADINE B. BRAZAL Features Editor NIKKO MIGUEL M. GARCIA Literary Editor JOLAU V. OCAMPO Patnugot ng Filipino EDRIS DOMINIC C. PUA Science and Technology Editor AUDRIE JULIENNE D. BERNAS Circle Editor SHAINA MAE L. SANTANDER Art Director DEEJAE S. DUMLAO Acting Chief Photographer News Kevin A. Alabaso, Samantha-Wee Lipana, Job Anthony R. Manahan, Julia Claire L. Medina, Jacob Marvin D. Urmenita, Pauline Faye V. Tria Sports Jan Carlo Anolin, Mia Arra C. Camacho, Ma. Angela Christa Coloma, Ma. Angelica D. Garcia, Ivan Ruiz L. Suing, Justin Robert Valencia Special Reports Ma. Consuelo D.P. Marquez, Louise Cleindale L. Penera, Arianne Aine D. Suarez Features Louise Claire H. Cruz, Daphne Yann P. Galvez, Julia Camille B. Ocaya Literary Karl Ben L. Arlegui, Elmer B. Coldora, Hailord N. Lavarias Filipino Erma R. Edera, Chris V. Gamoso, Winona S. Sadia Witness Marem A. De Jemel, Lady Cherbette N. Agot, Lexanne O. Garcia, Pearl Anne M. Gumapos Science and Technology Alyssa Carmina A. Gonzales, Miguel Alejandro IV A. Herrera, Beatriz Avegayle S. Timbang Circle Klimier Nicole B. Adriano, Kathleen Therese A. Palapar, Lyon Ricardo III M. Lopez Art Mariyella Alyssa A. Abulad, Blessie Angelie B. Andres, Rocher Faye R. Dulatre, Joelle Alison Mae P. Eusebio, Mari Kloie D. Ledesma, Nathanael Jonas S.J. Rodrigo Photography Miah Terrenz Provido, Maria Charisse Ann G. Refuerzo, Vladlynn Nona Maryse L. Tadeo, Pauline Faye V. Tria FELIPE F. SALVOSA II Assistant Publications Adviser JOSELITO B. ZULUETA Publications Adviser
Letters/comments/suggestions/contributions are welcome in the Varsitarian. Only letters with signatures and corresponding contact details will be entertained. Original manuscript contributions must be typewritten, double-spaced, on regular bond paper, and should include a signed certification bearing the author’s name, address, year, and college. The identity of a writer may be withheld upon request. The editors will not be responsible for the loss of materials. Contributions must be sent to THE VARSITARIAN office, Rm. 105, Tan Yan Kee Student Center, University of Santo Tomas, España, Manila.
APRIL 10, 2018
No ‘party’ in student polls this year ALL CANDIDATES running for this year’s Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board polls are independent bets, a trend which experts say is due to the imminent fear of political parties that voters have lost confidence in a party-run council. Amr Solon Sison, who teaches political science in the University, said Thomasians are seen to be doubtful of a party-dominated council due to unfelt and ineffective leadership. “Party politics in the University has lost its luster due to weak delivery of services from previous administrations which are party-dominated,” Sison told the Varsitarian in an online interview. Sison added that running as independent would stop traditional party politics, allowing independent bets to gain ground in student elections. Popular parties Lakas ng Diwang Tomasino (Lakasdiwa) and Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) will not be seen in the campaign for this year’s CSC polls. Lakasdiwa failed to field candidates during the filing of certificate of candidacies last March 21, while LTC, whose candidates once dominated the CSC, was suspended by the UST Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) for violating online campaigning rules in last year’s elections. Dennis Coronacion, UST Department of Political Science chairman, said Thomasians are fed up with political parties and now prefer independent bets. “Ang nakikita kong explanation kung bakit mas
prefer ng Thomasians ang independent candidates is students are fed up with student political parties and they want an alternative,” Coronacion told the Varsitarian. Coronacion explained that this current situation can be linked to strict policies implemented by the Comelec, which has “weakened” the appeal of student parties to voters. “The election body’s role is not to weaken student parties. […] [Comelec] should not portray the student political parties as recidivist that would disenchant student voters,” Coronacion said. Coronacion added that “trivial” requirements such as photocopies of identification cards were the common problems for cancelled accreditation. Some of the recurring issues which can be identified with the decline of political parties are problems on membership and the failure of party members to secure a spot in the council, Sison said. Last election season, a total of 13 candidates eyed seats in the CSC Executive Board, of which included bets from Lakasdiwa and LTC. In the 2017 elections, most Thomasians chose to reject candidates in four out of six positions in the CSC Executive Board, while two independents won secretary and public relations officer. ‘Improve platforms’ Party bets must improve their platforms and campaign strategies
to restore their appeal to Thomasian voters and face independent bets in the next elections, Coronacion said. “There is a dominance of independent candidates because it is more appealing to Thomasian voters, who have become irritated with the campaign styles of student political parties,” he said. Coronacion added that CSC candidates should aim for projects that promote students’ welfare and rights rather than organizing concerts. Sison said parties could improve on platforms that focus on students’ key issues to return in the CSC elections. “By having a more platform-driven approach, this might bring sensible policy outcome on the side of CSC. Kung baga hindi na lang sila matatawag na events organizer lang,” he said. Comelec Chairman Arvin Bersonda echoed Sison, saying “candidates must run because of genuine intentions and purely out of service for the student body.” ‘Party member turned independent’ Students should be watchful of independent candidates who were former members of unaccredited political parties, Bersonda said. “Unless there is a filed complaint saying the independent candidate is working underground [in a political party] and with concrete evidence supporting their claims,
there will be grounds for suspension,” he said. Ivan Pulangco, Comelec’s secretary to the adjucatory, said the Comelec cannot initiate investigations on independent candidates without sufficient evidence presenting affiliations on other parties. “We need an evidence [showing the candidates’ affiliations.] Unless an evidence is presented, we cannot act,” he said during a press conference last March 23. Coronacion lamented that former party members turned independents could deceive student voters such as promoting fake promises during their campaign. “When [independent bets who have undeclared affiliations with former parties] get elected, that’s the time they will show their true political colors. If they promise these [projects] during elections, it would be very easy for them to forget their promises kasi they are bound by the party decision,” he said. Article 5, Section 3 of the 2011 UST Students’ Election Code (Usec) mandates the conduct of independent candidates acting as a political party where candidates must not use campaign materials that are distinctly similar from other candidates. Article 5, Section 7(d) of the Usec states the recognition of students’ right to resign from a political party to form a new one but should not be associated to any suspended party. MA. CONSUELO D.P. MARQUEZ
In retrospect: Looking into CSC’s accomplishments DESPITE having only two out of six positions occupied in this year’s Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board, the outgoing administration managed to accomplish 19 out of 23 projects listed in its yearlong general plan of action (GPOA). CSC Secretary Therese Gorospe, who is also the council’s acting president, said the council being a two-man team is a double-edged sword. “‘Yong pagiging dalawa namin [sa council], feeling ko strength and weakness siya at the same time. Pressure sa ‘ming dalawa kasi kami ang inaasahan ng lahat. Strength siya kasi feeling namin tinulungan kami ng administrators sa CSC,” Gorospe told the Varsitarian. Outgoing CSC Public Relations Officer Francis Santos, who is also running for president, said the council’s shortcomings stemmed from the lack of time and the lack of officers in the CSC Executive Board. “We had to take on the shoes of other officers na wala so we really have to compensate,” Santos said. Gorospe stood as the acting president of the council as stated in Article 6, Section 4 of the 2003 CSC Constitution that should the offices of the president and vice president be vacant, “the secretary shall act as president.” Gorospe said the one-month moratorium on University events, which prohibited organizations from holding activities and events during examination period, delayed
implementation of some of their plans. “Dumadating sa time na sa isang month ang dami naming gustong gawin na projects kaya nga lang may moratorium,” Gorospe said. The council’s “Connect, Solidify and Construct” GPOA has a five-key agenda which focuses on student grievance and welfare, socio-political involvement, responsible and inclusive governance, Thomasian identity and sustainable community development. Accomplished projects Gorospe said this year’s CSC prioritized the raising of student awareness on sociopolitical issues. “Malaking pagbabago [‘yung pag-raise ng awareness] kasi ‘yung mga issues dati na [isinasa] walang-bahala lang, [binigyang pansin na]. This year naging priority ng CSC na maging socially relevant,” Gorospe said. Gorospe said sociallyrelevant projects include the “Martial Law Caravan,” a commemoration week of the dark ages of the Marcos era, and the Anti-Stigma campaign which aimed to break the stigma on several public health issues like mental health and HIV/ AIDS. Gorospe headed “Project Idea”, an umbrella project that focused on social issues concerning animal welfare, mental health, and personswith-disability inclusivity.
Gorospe also led the “Network of Opportunities” project, a series of monthly calendar guides for upcoming activities, conferences, and available scholarships and internship programs both local and international. To tick off the last item on Gorospe’s platforms, she organized the “League of Community Development Officers,” a coalition of community development officers from local colleges to better organize activities. Santos led “Pulso ng Tomasino,” a survey conducted in recognizing the stand of Thomasian community on national issues. He also spearheaded “Kasangga Project Pitching Platform,” a forum where Thomasians presented their ideas and projects that will further develop the Student Rights and Welfare. In line with this, he also spearheaded “Kasangga Grievance System,” an assistance in resolving grievances within the community. Santos also launched CSC’s official website which contained CSC’s tracker, news and updates and calendar of activities. Santos pinoeered the “Martial Law Caravan” which showcased exhibits and a forum held last September. Aside from accomplishing their platforms, Gorospe and Santos said the council was
able to accomplish projects that their constituents proposed. “Binigyan namin sila ng liberty to spearhead projects that are close to their hearts or what they really want to do for the Thomasian community,” Santos said. This includes “TEDxUST”, an independently organized event which aimed to spread ideas and encourage relevant conversation last March 10. The event was headed by Krianne Pineda, who is also vying for PRO position in this year’s elections. The council also organized the Media Literacy Summit held last Feb. 24, a seminar that shed light on the role of media in society Under the supervision of Santos, Kate Roldan, Enrico Escano, Ronette Miclat and Akira Yukui continued “Veritas,” a monthly financial report on the CSC Facebook page and website. “Diamonds,” an annual symposium officers from local student councils and student organizations was also materialized last Sept. 2. Other projects were the “University Expo,” “Boses Tomasino,” “Straw” and “CSC Leadership Training Summit 2017.” CSC promised to accomplish their pending projects such as “Humans of UST,” “KuwenTomasino” and “Palarong Pinoy” before their term ends. KLIMIER NICOLE B. ADRIANO and DAPHNE YANN P. GALVEZ
APRIL 10, 2018
Thomasians hit removal of ‘abstain’ in ballots THOMASIANS have denounced the exclusion of “abstain” in the ballots for this year’s Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board elections, saying its absence denies their right to manifest their disapproval for candidates they do not deem fit to be in the council. Bianca Lacaba, president of the Thomasian Debaters Council, said the overwhelming abstentions last year was a “sign that students were tired of the same old antics” pulled by the candidates. “[W]hile our [UST] Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to treat leaving the ballot unanswered as an expression of dissatisfaction, I feel it’s important to explicitly place an option to abstain or cast a vote of no confidence. That’s more straightforward and personally empowering for a voter like me,” Lacaba told the Varsitarian in a text message. Neal Tayco, president of the UST Literary Society, said leaving a ballot unanswered would present a “moral dilemma” for student voters. “Medyo nakakatakot when we’re faced with a candidate na siya lang tumatakbo for a position... More than anything, pinapakita ng mga ganitong situation [that] our UST Students’ Elections Code (USEC) is outdated and is in dire need of revision,” Tayco said. Nicolo Bongolan, a political science senior, said he was against the “removal of giving the Thomasian community a choice of who they want to represent them” and called for the revision of the USEC. “[T]he Thomasian community does not deserve a system which undermines their democratic rights and interests. What we would want is for the USEC to be reviewed, broadened,
#TOMspeak WHAT DO Thomasians have to say about the controversies surrounding this year’s Central Student Council Executive Board elections? “It’s better to have no politicians than to have bad politicians.” – Jerry Anthony Dupo (Institute of Information and Computing Sciences, fourth year) “If they will run for position, sana may nagawa na sila for the school and sana maramdaman sila ng students.” – Simon Bandol (College of Architecture, fourth year) “The candidates must be deserving and with a proper background.” – Minami Endo (College of Science, first year) “Sana `wag mag bigay ng platforms na hindi naman kayang panindigan.” – Karyssa Tantiongco (College of Education, fourth year)
and fixed with a pro-student agenda,” Bongolan said. The removal of “abstain” was similar to silencing student dissent, Raphaella Miranda, a student from the UST Graduate School, said. “The ‘abstain’ option in the ballot gave the students an avenue to express their dissatisfaction with the current candidates, and... it allows for the elections to still be considered as successful because it’s counted in the voter turnouts,” Miranda said in an online interview. For Senior High School (SHS) students Pablo Foronda-Tanglao and Shotaro Akehira, the absence of “abstain” was “undemocratic” and “ineffective.” “The mass abstentions and championing of independents last year was an unprecedented victory for progressive Thomasians everywhere, it was the point where we were able to all come together and reclaim the nobility of student governance,” Tanglao, who was also a former SHS student council chief of staff, said. Jeremiah Pasion, candidate for CSC public relations officer, filed on April 1 an appeal to the Comelec to reconsider its move in excluding “abstain” from the ballots and upholding the 25 percent minimum vote requirement for lone candidates. Comelec announced on March 8 the removal of the “abstain” option in the online ballotings, in compliance with the order of the Central Judiciary Board (CJB). Voters are now left with the option to leave a positions unanswered. The Comelec, however, clarified that choosing not to vote for a candidate in the ballots would not result in having no winners. “From our meeting with [our legal adviser] Atty. Alfonso Versoza, the voter who left a position blank is the same as the voter who didn’t go to the polls, from a legal perspective,” Ivan Pulanco, Comelec secretary to the adjudicatory, told the Varsitarian. Citing Article 1, Section 8 of the USEC, Pulanco said failure of elections would only be declared if both candidates for a certain position failed to garner 25 percent of the votes. He added the 25-percent limit would be calculated based on the registered voters in UST for that semester. Candidates Francis Gabriel “Kiko” Santos, Victor Amores, Carol Anne Balita, Robert
Dominic Gonzales, Jan Krianne Pineda, Jeremiah Pasion, Adrian Lee Fernando and Alek Pierce Joell Sta. Ana said they would not accept the position if an overwhelming number of Thomasians would choose not to vote for a candidate, even if they had higher votes against their opponents. “[K]ung mas mataas ang boto ng unanswered sa akin, maituturing ko itong ‘vote of no confidence’ sa akin ng mga Tomasino at mahirap yun, kaya I will humbly decline the position,” Santos said in a text message. Karizza Kamille Cruz, candidate for president, said she would accept the position if she would garner more votes against the opponent despite higher “unanswered” count. “[The Thomasians] deserve the leader whom they voted for as against the overwhelming ‘unanswered’ who opted not to cast their votes. Positions need to be filled up to have an effective and efficient student government,” Cruz said. On July 24 last year, the Central Judiciary Board, the CSC’s judicial arm, issued a resolution ordering the Comelec to proclaim the winners with the highest number of votes. The CJB ruled that the Comelec violated Article 10, Section 5 of the USEC: “The ballots shall contain: The printed names of the candidates, under the position to which they aspire, followed by their party affiliation; a printed box appearing before the candidate’s name; a serial number; and printed instructions on how to accomplish the ballot.” Unanswered Lawyer Enrique de la Cruz, an electoral law expert, said leaving the ballot unanswered would still bestill an exercise of a student’s choice not to vote. “The choice of ‘not voting’ is a fundamental right, a free expression of political discontent… [T]he right to vote, just like any other right, can be waived and hence in itself is a right not to vote and deserve constitutional protection,” de la Cruz told the Varsitarian. Philip Aguinaldo, judge at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court and Civil Law Comelec adviser, said the inclusion of “abstain” in the ballots could lead to the indecision of voters, which would then defeat an election’s purpose. “It would be better if the ballots [will] not include “abstain” because it is an invitation to
passivity or even the [creation of] a bandwagon mentality,” Aguinaldo said in an email interview with the Varsitarian. Dennis Coronacion, chairman of the UST political science department, said the placement inclusion of “abstain” along with the list of candidates in the ballots was a “wrong practice.” “You should not place ‘[“abstain”’] there kasi it is suggesting and it is enticing the voters to choose that tick box or abstain… Pero if it’s not there, you simply don’t write anything. ganun lang `yun and it’s considered as abstain,” Coronacion said. Active student participation Coronacion said the new ballot format would not prevent the student voters from abstention and that they could still abstain by not marking the ballots. “The absence of any mark simply means that the student voter opts not to choose from among the candidates in a given position,” Coronacion said in an interview. Coronacion urged Thomasians to be educated in the regular elections by being active and vigilant as early as the filing of candidacy. Several local Comelec units would follow the Central Comelec in removing “abstain” in their local student council elections ballots. These colleges include: Faculty of Sacred Theology, Faculty of Philosophy, College of Architecture, Faculty of Arts and Letters, Faculty of Civil Law, College of Commerce and Business Administration, College of Education, Faculty of Engineering, College of Fine Arts and Design, Institute of Information and Computing Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Conservatory of Music, Institute of Physical Education and Athletics, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Science, College of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Education High School and Junior High School. The UST-Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy, College of Nursing, Faculty of Pharmacy and Senior High School would retain “abstain” in their ballots, while the Faculty of Canon Law has yet to decide on the matter as of writing. JOB ANTHONY R. MANAHAN and SAMANTHA-WEE LIPANA with reports from ELMER B. COLDORA and JULIA CLAIRE MEDINA
What is the pulse of Thomasians in the upcoming CSC elections? “Wala na kasing ‘abstain’ di’ba? Sana kapag relative majority `yung hindi bumoto dun sa kandidato, magkusa na siyang mag resign.” -– James Uy (USTAMV College of Accountancy, third year) “I’m hoping that this year’s CSC election won’t be the same like last time where several issues were raised. Sana mas peaceful at organized ngayong taon.” – Rhaj Jerome De Chavez (Faculty of Engineering, third year) “What I expect from these future elected central student council officers is to create much more opportunities not only to for themselves but for all Thomasians. [I] also [expect them] to organize service-oriented events that will benefit the partner communities of the University.” – Harrah Daphne de la Viña (College of Commerce and Business Administration, third year)
“I expect the process of voting to be a lot faster and fluid due to the changes in the system of voting, such as making voting electronic and the removal of abstain as far as I know.” – Miguel Chang (UST-AMV - College of Accountancy, first year) “I think the new roster of UST CSC should advocate for freedom to information, such as the negotiation on tuition fee increases and other fees.” – Vivien Clarisse Leynes (Faculty of Arts and Letters, third year) “Inaasahan ko na mas magiging matalino ang mga botante ngayong darating na CSC election. Tulad ng ipinakitang tapang ng mga Tomasino noon dahil sa pagboto ng abstain.” -– Jan Aldwin Aspiras ,(College of Rehabilitation and Sciences, fourth year)
“I want to see how [the CSC student leaders] uphold free speech and represent the voices of students in important changes and implementations within the university.” – Geena Amurao (College of Science, third year) “”Ine-expect ko lang naman is peaceful na eleksyon at kung sino man manalo, ay magampanan niya ang kanyang mga tungkulin nang maayos. No one needs drama.” – Nicole Paril (College of Rehabilitation and Sciences, third year) “For the elections, I expect candidates to be open with to criticism and use it to develop their leadership agenda.” –Jia Soller (Faculty of Arts and Letters, third year). Compiled by KARL BEN L. ARLEGUI
WHO WILL LEAD Ex-CSC secretary guns for highest council post
By LOUISE CLAIRE H. CRUZ AIMING to pass the Students’ Code within 10 months, Faculty of Civil Law sophomore Karizza Kamille Cruz eyes the highest council post in her return in to the Central Student Council (CSC) elections since her stint as CSC secretary six academic years ago. Cruz, a 26-year-old tourism alumna, believes that winning the presidency would give her the best opportunity to pass the code, which has been undergoing revisions since its proposal in 2004. “I would like to make sure that [before] I leave the University, all the Thomasian student’s’ rights will be safeguarded and protected,” Cruz told the Varsitarian. With her “knowledge of the law and experience as a student leader,” Cruz intends to finish the campaign, which has been under revisions since it began in 2004, within 10 months or less. “It is time to implement the Students’ Code and make the enforcements of students rights the topmost priority of the CSC,” Cruz said. “We have been fragmented and divided by many political issues since last year and it is time to come to a common ground with various sectors in UST and lay out a common vision for UST.” Cruz has been active in both local and university-wide student councils in UST. She recently served as the Civil Law Student Council secretary and led the first formal leadership seminar series for the student leaders of the UST Faculty of Civil Law. Her goal is to establish a “unified CSC composed of student leaders who are willing to set aside their differences for a better service to the Thomasian studentry.” “You can expect a CSC that is more policy-oriented, student-rights-driven, and will apply the full extent of the law against injustices, discrimination, and other infringements to on student’s’ rights and welfare,” she said. Platforms Aside from her dedication to passing the Students’ Code, Cruz also aims to implement a “participativetransformational leadership” by
encouraging all Thomasians to voice out opinions on different policies in and out of UST through her upcoming projects. “I am presenting myself as an option to the students [who] seek justice for those whose rights are violated and at the same time, unite the Thomasians under one common goal and vision for the University,” she said. In her term as CSC secretary in 2011, Cruz implemented the environmental “Styro-free-UST” campaign, which banned the use of styrofoam in the University. She plans to expand this environmental campaign to establishments around UST by coordinating with the local councils to propose an ordinance prohibiting the use of styrofoam. She also plans to coordinate with the In-House Security of UST and the Philippine National Police station in on España Street to ensure that there are security personnel who do “round the clock monitoring and surveillance of the borders of the campus” for the safety and security of students. Although Cruz believes that “no experience is enough for any position,” she upholds her overall experience as a student leader, her length of stay in the University and her knowledge of the law as her advantages in the presidential bid. During her stint as CSC Secretary, Cruz received the St. Dominic Award for Outstanding Teamwork and the Outstanding Leadership Award conferred by the Office of Student Affairs. It was also under her term when the transparency project “UST CSC Newsletter: Reporting Actions with Resiliency” was implemented. It was a communications campaign to ensure that CSC projects and activities are being fulfilled by the student leaders.
“It is time to implement the Students’ Code and make the enforcements of students rights the topmost priority of the CSC.”
Karizza Kamille Cruz
Sole VP candidate seeks to improve student safety and security By JULIA CAMILLE B. OCAYA
WITH a platform aimed at ensuring the students’ safety and security, biochemistry junior Victor Amores is running unopposed for the vicepresidential post of the Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board. The former Faculty of Pharmacy Student Council secretary is eyeing to revive the Sampaloc-UST Neighborhood Watch or SUN Watch, a watchdog group formed in 2013 to prevent crimes in the Sampaloc district and improve safety and security in and around the campus. Amores said he was concerned over the safety of the students who go out at night to study in coworking establishments around UST as reports of theft and harassments have become prevalent in social media. “It is really important that the students remain safe and secured even outside the University [and] that is why I’m focusing on it in my campaign,” Amores said. His other platforms are the “Centralized Grievance System,” a grievance process in coordination with local student councils, and the “Comprehensive and Inclusive Approach to Health,” a health and wellness project which would provide activities wherein students could “take a step back from stress.” His activities will include occupational wellness and environmental wellness programs.
Unopposed Running unopposed for the vice-presidential seat in the CSC Executive Board is a “greater challenge,” Amores said, since it would need more effort to prove himself worthy of the students’ trust. “Some may think that I should not worry anymore because I am running unopposed, but I beg to differ. [It] is a greater challenge because I would have to exert a lot of effort to prove to the Thomasian community that I am worthy of their trust and that I am worth voting for,” he said. Amores believes his stints as former Pharmacy student council secretary and public relations officer had given him with enough experience to become a vice president. “I have learned to work well with others without compromising the integrity of my principles [and] I know that working in the CSC means being adaptable, not only to situations, but more importantly to the people working with and around you,” he said.
“It is really important that the students remain safe and secured even outside the University [and] that is why I’m focusing on it in my campaign.” Victor Amores
D THE NEXT CSC? 5 CSC PRO eyes presidency to continue CSC legacy APRIL 10, 2018
By DAPHNE YANN P. GALVEZ DEDICATED to continuing his practices and programs as Central Student Council (CSC) public relations officer (PRO), political science junior Francis Gabriel Santos is ready to take on a bigger responsibility as he runs for re-election for the presidency. “`Yong pagkandidato ko ngayon is about continuity and improvement. Maganda na `‘yong nasimulan ng council this year at ayaw ko nang baguhin at alisin `‘yon,” Santos told the Varsitarian. “[I want to] continue the good practices and programs that have been done by the council and improve wherever it is needed.” Santos is one of the two elected officers in the CSC executive board this academic year. With four positions vacant, he had to handle duties beyond the responsibilities of a PRO. “I had the grasp of the knowledge of the treasurer’s job, the auditor’s job and the vice president’s job,” Santos said. This experience, Santos said, should allow him to lead UST’s 40,000-strong student population. “Kung pagbabasehan natin `‘yong mga naranasan ko sa loob ng council, handa na ako para maging pangulo at handa pa akong matuto para mas maging mabuting pangulo para sa mga Tomasino,” he said. After the unexpected twist in the elections last year, Santos believes the Thomasians would be more critical in choosing their next set of leaders. “Sa palagay ko mas magfo-focus ang mga Tomasino sa mga ipinaglalaban ng mga leader nila. Hindi na `‘yon sa itsura o sa kasikatan kung hindi nandoon na `‘yon sa prinsipyo, sa paninindigan at sa mga ideolohiya ng mga kandidato,” Santos said. Platforms Santos vows to raise the socio-political awareness of Thomasians and to fight for the students’ rights, which include the passing of the Student’s Code. The mandate of the CSC, Santos said, is to represent the students in the decisionmaking bodies within the University. In his leadership, he would “strive to make the CSC a better and stronger representation of students.” “Isa tayo sa major stakeholders
so marapat lamang na mayroon tayong pagkakataon na makausap ang administrasiyon at maging bahagi sa mga pagdedesisyon ng mga polisiyang maaari tayong maapektuhan directly or indirectly,” Santos said. Santos’ platforms include the “Students’ Rights and Welfare (Straw) Coalition,” a local version of the national coalition and lobbying for the Straw Bill, “Kasangga 2.0,” an extension and improvement on of the current CSC grievance system, and “Kabalikat,” a platform that aims to represent the students in the decision-making bodies in of the University. Santos is also proposing a voter education series for Thomasians to educate the students on their right to suffrage and the importance of their vote this coming 2019 elections. During his stint as CSC PRO, Santos led the “Kasangga Grievance System” which provided students a centralized and transparent grievance system. He also headed the Martial Law Commemoration Week, a week-long event which that included an exhibit, a forum and a dialogue with Martial Law survivors to raise awareness and to sharpen students’ critical thinking skills regarding the Martial Law era. Santos was also at the helm of the “Pulso ng Tomasino” project which was a university-wide survey conducted to know the stand of Thomasians on issues both in the university and in the national levels.
“...mas magfo-focus ang mga Tomasino sa mga ipinaglalaban ng mga leader nila. Hindi na ‘yon sa itsura o sa kasikatan kung hindi nandoon na ‘yon sa prinsipyo, sa paninindigan at sa mga idolohiya ng mga kandidato.” Francis Gabriel Santos
Editor: Maria Crisanta M. Paloma
APRIL 10, 2018
Who will be on the next CSC Executive Board? PRO
Secretary Carol Anne Balita
Robert Dominic Gonzales
Jeanne Nicole Naval
JOURNALISM junior and Central Student Council (CSC) candidate for secretary Carol Anne Balita envisions an “inclusive” student council that goes beyond the borders of the mandated responsibilities. “Ang vision ko sa CSC is siya `‘yong magiging autonomous na magpapakita ng itsura ng society ngayon. As a journalism student, gusto ko maging taga-pamalita ng Tomasino at ng mga Pilipino para hindi lang maging aware ang mga tao kundi para kumilos din sila para dito.” Driven to break the stigma that secretariat duties are bound only within constitutional duties, Balita vows to promote Thomasian involvement through a multi-sectoral alliance and an immersion with marginalized communities. “Hihingiin ko `‘yong voice ng Thomasians at kung ano ang tindig nila,” she said. Balita served as the production head of the UST Journalism Society and the assistant secretary of UST Hiraya, the Uuniversity-wide feminist organization.
FACULTY of Medicine and Surgery freshman Robert Gonzales upholds health awareness and quality education as he vies for the position of CSC secretary. Gonzales, who took up Pharmacy in the University, envisions an effective student council in enforcing health policies and programs and in empowering personal and professional growth among students and teachers. “I think it will be better if we do some modifications in the evaluation of the faculty and staff, and aside from evaluating them we need to do the follow-up,” Gonzales said. For Gonzales, student leaders should not settle in giving “mediocre service” for the students just to fulfill their platforms. “I think it’s just practical to choose [platforms] na bihasa ka na kasi you don’t want to give mediocre service for the students. If you’re there to serve why don’t you serve them with full potential?” he said. Gonzales served as the Faculty of Pharmacy Student Council secretary- general and assistant secretary in 2016.
BANKING on her two years of executive work in the Central Student Council, advertising arts senior Jeanne Nicole Naval seeks to build a council with “a better relationship with the student body.” “My advocacy is focused on inclusivity and a more informative campaign for the students,” Naval told the Varsitarian. Naval is counting on her advertising skills to help improve the PR system of the University, which, she said, lacked student involvement. “I intend to address this problem by being more proactive in gathering facts and figures regarding the issues,” Naval said. “Through this, we can be more thorough in evaluating our perspectives while upholding our Thomasian core values.” Naval was executive associate to the CSC Secretary from 2015 to 2016 and co-director for of CSC Community Development from 2016 to 2017.
Treasurer Alek Pierce Joell Sta. Ana LONE treasurer candidate Alek Pierce Joell Sta. Ana is advocating financial literacy and transparency between the administration and the students, especially when it comes to tuition increases. Equipped with experience as a
former executive staff member of his local student council’s treasurer, Sta. Ana believes he can occupy win the position left vacant last elections. “I saw how the three members of the CSC performed and how they were able to go beyond their constitutional duties,” he said. “However, as a candidate for treasurer I believe I can fill this void up.” Sta. Ana was not the sole candidate who filed for candidacy as treasurer. He was supposed to be runningrun against Graduate School student Rome Voltaire who was later disqualified due to lack
in of the required number of units takenenrolled. However, Sta. Ana said he will was not contented with the fact that he only needed to win“not settle” with the fact that he only needs to compete with the 25 percent of the% votinge requirement prescribed by the University Student Election Code to be proclaimed winner.. “Running as a sole candidate is a challenge because I have to convince the Thomasians not to leave the ballots unanswered and that I am deserving for of the position,” he said.
Auditor Adrian Lee Fernando M E D I C A L technology junior Adrian Lee Fernando is seeking a shift from local posts to university-wide council post as he aims for the position of Central Student Council (CSC) auditor unopposed. Having been in the council work for
two years, Fernando believes that one of the main problems auditors face is the proper handling of receipts. “I will be implementing a strict compliance that will collate and validate all official transactions made by the council,” Fernando said. He said his experiences as the UST Medical Technology Society’s former external public relations officer and former executive associate to the president prepared him to become a versatile and effective leader. “I am a listener then a follower then a
leader,” he said. “I learned how to listen to the people around me, thus I became a leader who knows how to follow because I respect the opinions of each person.” Fernando finds it a challenge and motivation to be the sole candidate for auditor. “Dahil [malaki ang expectations sa akin], mas lalo akong na-motivate to do better in serving them. [I will] not just to prove my capabilities, but also show my advocacy and projects that go beyond the constitutional duties of an auditor,” he said.
Jeremiah Pasion PUBLIC relations officer candidate and political science junior Jeremiah Pasion vows to bring the CSC closer to students with his “pro-active and pro-people” type of leadership. “Ang lalo pang pagabot sa mga estudyante ang isa sa mga pinakamalaking hamon na sumasambulat ngayon sa pampublikong relasyon ng UST. Higit na kinakailangan na mas ilapit pa mismo ng isang konseho ang kanyang sarili sa mga Tomasino at mamuno sa mga laban nito,” Pasion told the Varsitarian. Pasion stresses the importance of taking a stand on issues concerning both the University and the country. “Hindi sapat na pag-aralan lamang natin ang lipunan sa pamamagitan ng mga forum at seminar; tayo ay din kikilos nang sama-sama,” he said. He plans to hold alternative learning classes which would raise awareness on socio-political matters.
Jan Krianne Pineda FACULTY of Arts and Letters Student Council former public relations officer and political science junior Jan Krianne Pineda is ready to take on a universitywide post with platforms anchored on “participative, practical, and lawful initiatives.” Pineda envisions “a more embracing” Thomasian community, with hopes of working closely with civil society groups to “address social ills through policy engagements, conferences and community development projects.” As a student leader, Pineda believes ideology alone is not enough when it comes to governance. “Leaders must have a vision for the people they serve. They must have the necessary skills set for management to turn visions into reality,” Pineda said in an interview with the Varsitarian. Pineda was the executive coordinator to the CSC PRO.
Assistant Editor: Hannah Rhocellhynnia H. Cruz
APRIL 10, 2018
Higher turnout eyed with return to electronic voting By MA. ANGELA CHRISTA COLOMA
WITH the return to electronic voting, the UST Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) is now eyeing a record-high turnout of votes atop the implementation of a longer voting period this academic year. In a press conference last March 9, the poll body announced that the election period will be on April 11 to 21, significantly longer compared to the four-day voting period held in previous years, to beat the 73-percent voter turnout recorded in 2006. Comelec Chairman Arvin Bersonda said he expects all local Comelec units to strictly follow election schedules per class to make sure all Thomasians get to cast their votes. “Since the computer laboratories are being used for academic purposes, we [are] trying our best to maximize the use of it through proper scheduling,” Bersonda told the Varsitarian. After the switch to manual voting last year, the 2017 voter turnout dropped by 2.9 percent when only 66 percent of the voting body or 28, 873 out of 43,762 Thomasians were able to cast their votes from 30,645 out of 41, 869 or 68 percent in 2016. Faculty of Arts and Letters Comelec Chairwoman Ayla-Rhey Salapare said the “convenient” nature of electronic ballots may boost this year’s voter turnout. “The electronic elections will be more convenient for all of us... Instead of finishing two to three blocks in an hour, we are hoping to finish five or more [and] when this happens, the total voter turnout will increase,” Salapare said. In last year’s student polls, UST Education High School obtained the highest voter turnout at 94.9 percent, followed by UST Senior High School with 93 percent and the Faculty of Pharmacy and College of Commerce and Business Administration with 85 percent apiece. The colleges with the lowest voter turnouts are the Conservatory of Music with 43.7 percent followed by the College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) with 56 percent.
Voter turnout in UST averaged at 64% from 2006 to 2017. For the last ten years, the lowest automated student council voter turnout recorded was in 2009 (55 percent) while the highest was in 2006 (73 percent). The lowest voter turnouts were recorded during the first three years of electronic election in 2008 (59 percent), 2009 (55 percent), and 2010 (59 percent). Voter information programs ‘adequate’ Salapare added that proper dissemination of instructions on the new automated voting system may also increase student participation in the student polls. “I believe students will participate if we will properly disseminate information regarding the new system of voting,” Salapare said. To boost voter information, Comelec has partnered with media organizations for a ‘more effective’ information campaign. The poll body also decided to boost its social media campaign to improve voter knowledge among the electorate. “We used social media to release videos, gif photos (moving pictures), para maging
mas maalam po ang mga tao sa unibersidad,” Comelec Secretary to the Adjudicatory Julius Berame told the Varsitarian. Faculty of Pharmacy Comelec Chairman Anthony Marzan said their Comelec unit constantly reminds their students on their election schedules. “Aside from the constant reminders we give to students regarding their election schedule, active student participation is also one of the reasons why our voter turnout remains high every year,” Marzan said. CFAD Comelec Chairwoman Alexis Tan said she will coordinate with block presidents to schedule the best time for classes to vote. “We will be coordinating with the [CFAD] league of presidents to be able to schedule the best time for their respective classes to vote,” Tan said. Scrapping abstain ‘may discourage’ voting Salapare said majority of local Comelecs fear that due to the removal of abstain, which the Central Comelec argued was justifiable by the University Student Election Code (USEC),
will discourage students from casting their votes. “Most of the students I have spoken with were reluctant to participate in this year’s student elections because they felt that they had no choice but to vote for the people running in the respective faculties, colleges, and institutes,” Salapare said. She, however, said the absence of “abstain” in the ballot would not “remove the rights of the students” to vote for their chosen candidates. “It simply means that we cannot recognize abstain as an entity since there is no clear definition of the term in the USEC,” she said. In a resolution released last July 24, 2017, the Central Judiciary Board (CJB) ordered Comelec to proclaim candidates earning the highest number of voters and disregard the “abstain” option in the ballots, citing violations of provisions in the USEC. Lakas Tomasino Coalition’s Steven Grecia, Gabriela Sepulchre, Daveson Nieto and Richard Javier, who were proclaimed on Aug. 25 as president, vice president, treasurer and auditor, respectively, immediately resigned. To comply with the CJB’s order, Comelec decided to forego the use of abstain for this year’s ballots. Voter turnout in this year’s polls may also decrease because of apathy among the electorate and unanswered ballots, said Berame. “’Yung root ng lower voter turnout is either indifference or ‘yung wala pong pakialam yung mga tao,” Berame said. “Or yung mga tao, they think voting is not worth it or the present candidate is not worth [of their votes],” he said. “We cannot force students to choose. I think [unanswered ballots] will affect the mindset of people na, kung hindi naman natin gusto, bakit tayo pipili and it will lower the voter turnout,” he added. Failure to reach the voter turnout quota of 25 percent will result in a declaration of failure of elections, according to the USEC.with L.C.L. PENERA and reports from PAULINE FAYE V. TRIA
Charter revisions to be turned over to new leaders DESPITE efforts to pass the Students’ Code and revise the University Students Election Code (USEC) and the Central Student Council (CSC) Constitution this academic year, the current set of officers will be passing lawmaking responsibilities to next year’s leaders. CSC Central Board speaker Jonathan Santos said the Central Board, the legislative arm of the CSC composed of presidents of all local student councils in UST, will propose provisions anew for the CSC Constitution after failing to garner enough votes from Thomasians to reach the referendum for charter change that was held last Feb. 5 to 12. “We cannot revise the consitution on our own. We have to follow the processes. The least we can do now is to provide some basis for the next leaders if they intend to push for the amendment of the constitution,” Santos told the Varsitarian. At least 50 percent plus one of Thomasian voters must be in favor of the plan to revise the constitution, but Santos said only 200 out of more than 43,000 Thomasians voted in favor of revision in the online referendum. The previous set of officers in the CSC wanted to revise the constitution to “solidify” the definition of abstain, improve the standards placed for presidential candidates and align the election dates with the latest academic calendar.
If the referendum had ruled in favor of the revision, the final draft of the new constitution would be submitted to the Office of the Rector for approval and would be subject to a plebiscite after it undergoes the deliberation of a constitutional convention and the review of local student councils. The constitution was ratified on Feb. 27, 2003, amending the 1991 CSC Constitution, after controversies plagued the 2001 CSC elections due to unclear provisions in the charter. Election code revision Ivan Pulanco, secretary to the adjudicatory of the UST Central Commission on Elections (Comelec), said drafts to the USEC are almost finished, but completion is not guaranteed this academic year as its approval and ratification will take a long time. “[Revisions] are ongoing but I will not guarantee completion by this year. We already have finished most of the articles and will pass on the revisions to the next year’s team,” he told the Varsitarian. Comelec Chairman Arvin Bersonda said revising the campaign period of CSC candidates in the election code would be a priority, citing instances when candidates could not campaign during examination period of local colleges. “‘Yong priority namin would be[...] the campaign period, para mas malaki ‘yong sakop ng mga [CSC candidates] especially mahirap ngayon mag ayos ng schedule lalo na pag may mga moratorium period ‘yong mga colleges,” he said. The USEC states that the election campaign period should be limited to 12 school days beginning after the release of the official list of candidates, but the Comelec may prescribe a different period for campaign. This year’s campaign period will last for 10 days, from April 11 to 20. Bersonda also lamented how the allowed campaign expenses stated in the election code are outdated, as prices of products have gone higher than the value of products in 2011 when the USEC was last updated. “Financially, mahirap talagang mag-budget lalo na kung ‘yong budget noong 2011 na fixed, ganoon pa rin ‘yong budget na fixed ngayong 2018. E sobrang laki naman na ng difference ng mga bilihin,” he said. In the USEC, an independent candidate gunning for a CSC post can only spend 50 centavos for each student enrolled in the University, while political parties can spend up to P2.00 for every student. For Dennis Coronacion, chairman of the UST political science department, Comelec should not have the power to regulate political parties, as it
could limit the student body’s number of choices. “It’s not their job. Do you see Philippine Comelec doing that? Isinuspindi na ba diyan ang liberal party just because hindi nakapag-submit ng listahan ng mga members?” he said. Bersonda said giving more “benefits” to political parties would be among the revisions in the election code. “Kasi nga for me honestly nakukulangan din ako sa mga kaya nilang gawin kasi I think we’re restricting them actually,” he said. Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Judge Philip Aguinaldo, adviser of Civil Law Comelec, said the election code should be revised every five years. “New technologies and current events and practices are introduced even before we are aware of them, that can affect voters’ preferences, indifference or involvement,” he said in an email interview. Since local Comelec units have different problems and ideas, Bersonda said clashing of opinions about the proposed changes becomes a problem in the process of revising the USEC. “So we’re trying to have a common ground when it comes to the revision and hindi naman kasi ganun kadali… we have to make sure na agreed lahat ng bodies,” he said. Comelec withheld the supposed revision of USEC in 2015 due to “internal conflicts.” The proposed revisions in the election code must be first presented by Comelec to the CSC Central Board and shall be approved upon two-thirds vote of all Central Board members. Students’ Code CSC Secretary Therese Gorospe, who is also the council’s acting president, said the Central Board is consolidating the comments of the regents of all colleges and faculties in the proposed Students’ Code after it was submitted to the regents for reviewing April last year. “We are in the process now of consolidating sa [Central Board] tapos ipapasa na lang sa authorities for approval,” she said in an online interview. Santos said the code could be on the Rector’s table “anytime soon” after the comments and revisions are consolidated, but he said the process should done thoroughly to “lessen the loopholes.” “[The Rector] is in fact the one telling us to rush it too so we can present the revised version,” he added. Gorospe said there should be continuity in revising the Students’ Code as passing on the revision to new sets of officers slows down the process. “Kumbaga yung mga bagong umuupo, walang
sapat na kaalaman kung nasaan na. Kasi hindi natatransition nang maayos,” she said. The proposed Students’ Code, initially called the Magna Carta of UST Students, has undergone a series of revisions when it was first drafted in 2004, but former Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P. resigned before he could sign it. With the change of administration, the revision process of the students’ charter started anew until it reached the Office of the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs in February 2016. Again, it was returned to CSC for further revisions. The Students’ Code, which includes provisions on academic rights, freedom of expression, the right to information, participation in policy making, the right to organize and the right to due process, will be submitted to the Office of the Rector for approval after securing the nod of the faculty, the vice rectors, the Council of Regents and the Academic Senate. The code also has to be submitted to a student plebiscite. ‘Revision of charters necessary’ Coronacion said it is necessary to revise the charters soon to address the problems that arose in last year’s elections. “I think there’s a need [to revise] because the revision will be able to address the issue that took place last year wherein we saw that the [Comelec] included in the counting of the votes the abstention, which is not usually the case,” he said. Calls to revise the USEC and the CSC Constitution have emerged after lone presidential candidate Steven Grecia questioned the validity of “abstain” winning against candidates for CSC in April 2017. Grecia claimed that the candidates with the most number of votes should have been proclaimed winners due to the absence of a rule defining “abstain” in both charters. On July 24 last year, the Central Judiciary Board, the judicial arm of CSC composed of the CSC adviser, legal consultant of the Office for Student Affairs, chief of the Legal Aid Clinic of the Faculty of Civil Law, president of the Canon Law Society and a CSC representative, issued a resolution siding with Grecia and ordering the Comelec to proclaim the winners with the highest number of votes. The following month, Comelec proclaimed Steven Grecia, Gabriela Sepulchre, Daveson Nieto and Richard Javier as president, vice president, treasurer and auditor, respectively, but they rejected the posts and filed resignation letters on Sept. 11. ARIANNE AINE D. SUAREZ with reports from JOB ANTHONY MANAHAN
to the 2018 UST Student Council Elections