Political parties clashed as they defended their respective brands of activism and student service in the miting de avance of the College of Mass Communication (CMC) on Thursday.
Candidates from the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP-CMC (STAND UP-CMC) championed militant activism, where rallying and other forms of mass demonstration is the “highest form of activism.”
“Isa lang po ang aktibismo at iyan ay militante. At sa ilalim ng aktibismong yan ay iba’t ibang uri ng protesta,” said Denise Yalung, the party’s candidate for vice chairperson.
Meanwhile, Interdependent Student-centered Activism (ISA) candidates believed in “alternative activism,” which says that other forms of dissent through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are forms just as valid as rallies.
“What we are contesting is that your side believes that militant activism is the highest form of activism,” said Farah Ghodsinia, ISA’s bet for Broadcast Communication representative. “Do not underestimate other forms of activism.”
ISA chairperson candidate Ruby Ann Catubay said if everyone engaged in their own form of activism, the movement would effect change.
Alisa Baleva, who is running under ISA as secretary said the recent ouster of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak began with campaigns on social networking sites.
STAND UP-CMC acknowledges the power of this kind of activism, since some of their members joined the “Join the Budget Cut campaign” on Facebook, said Baleva.
The campaign, initiated by ISA, had students changing their profile pictures to black and white shots with the black strip saying “I oppose the budget cut” across the photo.
In rebuttal, her STAND UP-CMC counterpart Maye Cristobal said they did engage in online campaigns, emphasizing that protests did not end on Facebook and Twitter, but continued in the streets.
The party also called for students to express their dissent by wearing red or black shirts in protest, said Cristobal.
Cristobal said their party also held educational discussions (EDs) to explain issues to students.
“Ang pinupunterya ay ang aming pagrarally, pero marami pa naman kaming mga porma tulad ng mga ED, baka gusto niyong umattend,” said Cristobal.
ISA attendance at rallies questioned, STAND-UP imposes belief on others?
Ghodsinia said the party would join rallies if it were “the only way to attack an issue,” but would continue to use alternative means if they were possible.
Catubay said their party joined the November rallies calling for higher budget for the university and the November 23 march commemorating the massacre of the 58 civilians in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
ISA Journalism representative candidate Loj Guinmapang said their party’s presence in the event was “not a matter of number but of representation.” She added that although she was not yet a member of the party, she saw members of ISA in the protest action.
Baleva said, “Bakit nirerequire umattend ang USC ng mga rally, e pano kung hindi naman ito ang paraan ng pagpapakita nila ng stand nila?”
One audience member recalled being required by former CMCSC chairperson Rupert Mangilit, who ran under STAND UP-CMC in 2009, to attend rallies and EDs when she was in the Freshie Council.
ISA vice chairperson bet Claire Labadlabad, who was the 2009 Freshie Council secretary, said they were “misled” into joining an ED when they were initially informed that it was only a regular meeting.
Many ISA candidates claimed that their party was open-minded, as opposed to STAND UP-CMC members who forced their beliefs on others, such as attending rallies.
In defense, Yalung said following one framework was justifiable, as long as it was a pro-human rights framework.
“Pinaglalaban lang naman namin yung karapatan. Kung alam mo na yung mga journalist ay pinapatay, bakit di mo ipaglaban yung mga mamamahayag? Hindi ko nakikita kung anong mali doon,” she added.
Cristobal quoted one audience member in saying that few ISA members were seen in CMC’s rally against the Ampatuan massacre.
Cristobal reiterated that they do not coerce anyone to join mobs or educational discussions, but it is the students who decide whether they should follow them or not.
“Kami po ay hindi namimilit. Kami po ay nagmumulat,” said Cristobal.
Local vs. national issues
ISA’s “student-centric” perspective also clashed with STAND UP-CMC’s views.
ISA candidates said the CMCSC’s main focus should be on providing student services like printing services and free drinking water.
Jake Rivera, CMC representative the USC candidate, said that if STAND UP-CMC is to criticize the national government, it should be able to provide basic services for its constituency.
STAND UP-CMC chairperson bet Norman Riego said the root of the college’s problems is the UP’s low budget, adding that the council is mandated to forward this student issue.
“Kung basic services ay ang tubig, printing, ano pong pinagkaiba natin sa isang high school student council?” said Riego.
Vice chairperson candidate Yalung added that ISA was not able to maintain printing services throughout the year.
The independent nominee
Meanwhile, Angel Britanico, independent candidate for journalism representative said she represented students who sided with neither party.
“I refuse to believe that ideology is a source of division. Hindi ako naniniwalang dahil iba-iba ang ating mga prinsipyo ay hindi na tayo magkakasundo sa ating mga pinaglalaban,” said Britanico.
Sarah Torres, journalism candidate running under STAND UP-CMC, said Britanico was too individualistic, noting that her party also aimed to represent all students.
In response, Britanico said “individual initiative should not be underestimated.”