by Jon Lindley Agustin
Conflicts among College of Mass Communication (CMC) parties heated up as candidates for the next student council faced off on Friday at the college’s first issue-based debate in a modified Asian-Parliamentary format.
The debate, dubbed as “Liyab: A Pre-Hot off the Grill Debate,” was organized by the UP Mass Communicators Organization (UP MCO) as a kick-off to the annual miting de avance entitled “Hot Off The Grill” on Feb. 10.
The debate was also co-sponsored by the College Student Electoral Board (CSEB), CMC’s governing electoral body, headed by College Secretary Danilo Arao.
Similar to past election forums, persistent issues on commercialization, activism, and the implementation of projects tested the parties’ ideals and beliefs.
Candidates from STAND UP-CMC (Students Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP-CMC) and ISA (Interdependent Student-Centered Activism), as well as one independent candidate for Journalism representative gave their stance on issues such as the budget cut, tuition fee increase and the state’s selling of idle assets to private companies.
“The goal of the debate is to showcase the competencies of the candidates as well as the principles of ISA and STAND-UP,” said Jedd Brian Hernandez, president of UP MCO.
CMC’s biggest problem
The two candidates vying for CMC representative to the University Student Council (USC) each had two distinct problems of the college in mind.
While criticizing the former CMC student councils, Jake Rivera of ISA said the biggest problem is student engagement. To fulfill this, he said he will provide quality and more understandable information on issues to the students, along with basic student services.
“Five years ago, they (past councils) forgot that students need to be assisted in making names for themselves as media practitioners,” Rivera said in his first statements, “ Five years later, we have services… we have exploited every single avenue for them to participate in activities.”
“Hindi ka lang taga-akyat, taga-baba ka rin ng mga concerns sa level ng mga estudyante,” he added, “Makarelate muna kami sa ginagawa niyo.”
Gail Orduña of STAND UP-CMC belittled Rivera’s argument, saying the immediate concern is budget insufficiency and “exorbitant fees.”
“Hindi malaking issue ang student engagement sa MassComm,” she said, “Ang student engagement ang solusyon.”
As college representative, Orduña said she will push for consultation to students for every increase in fees and will advocate constant vigilance.
Facebook ‘Like’ page
The bets for Communication Research and Film representatives debated on the issue of STAND UP-CMC candidates ‘liking’ a Facebook page on budget cut, a form of ‘alternative activism’, which is an advocacy not in-line with the party.
According to Communication Research representative bet Carla Cucueco, ISA’s alternative advocacy called “I oppose the Budget Cut” on Facebook was even joined by candidates from STAND UP-CMC who were not inclined to support it.
Isabel Quesada, STAND UP-CMC’s Film representative candidate, argued, “Ano ang laban ng 200+ na estudyante na nag-‘like’ sa 3,500 na students na sumali sa protesta? Walang alternative activism, sakop pa rin ito ng militant activism.”
However, Marji Manlunas, ISA’s Treasurer candidate said 250 students have ‘liked’ the page within a week of its creation. She added that they believe in alternative activism because it is for everyone.
STAND UP-CMC’s Communication research candidate Sheryll Abrillo said her party does not condemn alternative activism but students must not settle on this form.
Over the years, STAND UP-CMC’s advocacies have been based on militant activism, a form different from alternative activism which does not necessarily incorporate rallies and protests.
Each party’s opinion also differed on the issue of selling the university’s idle lands to private companies as income generating projects.
STAND UP-CMC Treasurer candidate Astrid Acielo called profits from idle assets the government’s “band-aid solution.” She said it does not address the crisis on education.
ISA on the other hand believes it is a “beneficial band-aid solution.” The party said they recognize the government cannot provide for the university, and profits from selling of idle lands could compensate for this insufficiency.
Angel Britanico, Independent candidate for Journalism representative, stood midway.
While saying the income generated from private institutions is not necessary because the government must provide subsidy to the university, Britanico said these are still beneficial. She added it is also practicable because it has already been done, but it is not the best solution.
Live Twitter updates during this event were provided by Myra Cabujat.