By Jon Lindley Agustin
Almost a week to Election Day (Feb. 17), the university’s three main political parties laid down plans for the next University Student Council (USC) in a student organization-hosted forum at the School of Economics (SE) yesterday.
In their respective five-minute speeches, the candidates for chairperson, vice-chairperson, and one councilor representative tackled their distinct ways of addressing university issues and presented programs in improving the next USC.
Incumbent USC Councilor Marck Bryan “Chorva” David, chairperson candidate of KAISA (Nagkakaisang Iskolar Para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan), said the party proposes to unify the next student council. He said the council will work together for a common vision, and empowering the student body to student engagement and responsive leadership.
“It (USC) is polarized by continuous political divisions and continuous bickering,” said David.
For incumbent USC Councilor Tin Borja, ALYANSA’S (UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran) chairperson candidate, the next USC needs to be more relevant to the students it represents.
To fulfill this, Borja said they will provide a balance of campaign, services, and activities for the students.
“We want everyone to step out of their comfort zones,” she said, “and realize their potentials as catalysts of change and responsiveness.”
STAND-UP’s (Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP) chairperson candidate, incumbent USC Councilor Gem Garcia talked about issues on Hacienda Luisita, labor, and long lines of students in applying for loans in her five-minute speech.
“Hindi ko kayo kukumbinsihin na iboto kami. Kukumbinsihin ko nalang kayo kung bakit dapat paglingkuran ang bayan,” she said.
USC Charter change
David also said that it is the right time to propose for amendments to the USC constitution. He said there are inconsistencies in the present constitution which has been in effect since 1981.
There are some trivial facts in the constitution that need revision, such as the inclusion of the University of the Philippines-Manila (UPM) campus to the UP Diliman USC, he added. He said the UPM USC is actually unconstitutional based on the UP charter.
Last year, there were disagreements on the qualifications of some USC members, questions on accountability of USC members in terms of engaging students for consultation, and questions on representation, he said.
USC and student organizations
The candidates also spoke of strengthening the partnership of the USC with all student organizations to resolve various issues.
Alex Castro, KAISA’s candidate for councilor, said the party will create an alliance of all student organizations called the League of Student Organizations (LSO).
She said it has been hard for organizations to identify themselves with the USC. Through LSO, she said there will be concrete avenues of exchange, and information dissemination to organizations and representation will be easier.
During the forum, the candidates from STAND-UP talked about addressing national issues and related them to university issues.
STAND-UP’s candidate for councilor Amancio Melad III said the party will have an analysis on how the current situation of the university is related with issues such as on Hacienda Luisita, Melad being a Tarlac native himself.
On private-public partnership (PPP), Melad said the problem is with conflict of interest.
He said, “When we talk about UP Ayala Techo Hub, we would be earning five billion pesos in a span of 35 years. What’s the budget deficit of the UP System for every year? P 13 billion.”
Melad also remained firm of the party’s stand that quality education should be free for all. He said equity should exist in the university.
ALYANSA’S councilor candidate Cathy Alcantara, incumbent SESC chairperson, said it is multi-perspective activism sets their party apart from others.
She said there are different forms of activism. ALYANSA’s multi-perspective activism takes into account the diversity of students with different ideologies.
Multi-perspective activism is one of the party’s ‘four pillars’. The others are academic excellence, student empowerment, and social progress, she said.
After the speeches, the different candidates answered questions from the audience. Questions included issues on party membership, candidates cutting classes to campaign, the USC elections becoming a popularity contest, and partnership between the USC and local government units (LGUs).
Other candidates who spoke at the debate forum were ALYANSA councilor candidate Trizza Tolentino, KAISA vice chairperson candidate Marvee dela Resma, and STAND-UP vice chairperson candidate Dan Neil Ramos.
The forum, dubbed “UP Front: The 2011 Organizations’ USC Elections Forum,” was organized by the UP Economics Society with 25 partner organizations.
With reporting by Franz Jonathan de la Fuente