|By Jhesset Trina EnanoWith the upcoming elections, the clash between the political parties for the University Student Council elections is brought to the very basics of their campaign – their political orientations.
In the midst of heated discussions regarding pertinent issues that ranged from candidates’ credentials to the education budget, the word war during “Kung Aagawin Mo Ang Langit,” the annual mudslinging debate in UP, was reduced yesterday to questions regarding the political stances of Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (ALYANSA), Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA) and Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP).
ALYANSA maintained their stand on “progressive multi-perspective activism,” which recognizes the different views on an issue and the various forms of action in the need to empower the oppressed sectors in society.
“Meron tayong lipunan na mayroong sistema na mayroong pagkakaiba-iba (We have a society with a system of differences) and this is where we draw our multi-perspectivity from,” answered candidate for councilor Jose Emmanuel Micael Eva VIII, mentioning the need to listen to different sectors.
On the other hand, “inclusive activism” is the orientation of KAISA, according to its standard bearer Shaina Santiago, which she said recognizes the various perspectives in society. However, at the end of the day, she stated that their party believes in collective action.
“We consider na tayong mga estudyante ay may magagawa; tayo ay may magagawang solusyon (We consider that we students can do something, that we can offer solutions),” she said, adding their belief in an action dubbed as “expose, oppose, propose” in which students do not merely oppose the government, but also propose solutions for the problems faced by society.
STAND UP candidate for vice chairperson Soraya Escandor, however, questioned the existence of various brands of activism.
“Ang activism po ay way of life ‘yan!” Escandor claims, eliciting applause from their supporters.
STAND UP espouses militant activism, which recognizes collective action and student demonstrations to address the problems of society. The party also recognizes that the issues of students are not separated from the issues of other basic sectors of society such as workers and farmers, according to Escandor.
“Kung Aagawin Mo Ang Langit” is organized by the UP Solidaridad System-wide Alliance of Student Publications and Writers’ Organizations. On its fourth year, it continues to present itself as a venue for candidates to show their stand on issues and answer questions from the student body.
On the course of the debate, the “multi-perspective” stance of ALYANSA was repeatedly lashed by the two other parties, for alleged inconsistency of the party with regards to its stand on issues such as the Tuition and Other Fee Increase (TOFI) and the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP), citing reports from the Philippine Collegian, the official publication of UP Diliman.
Despite these allegations, ALYANSA said that they were misquoted by the Collegian on these reports. However, KAISA candidate for vice-chairperson Alex Castro and Escandor were united in disproving ALYANSA’s statement.
The three parties also set their differences aside and united regarding the statement made by an incumbent USC councilor regarding the independent candidate running for chairperson, Martin Loon.
In a Facebook note, Cathy Alcantara revealed the poor track record of Loon in terms of attendance in general assemblies, as well as his performance during events held by the USC. When she asked the three parties whether they believe her statement, all candidates stood up and answered a unanimous ‘yes’.
Loon failed to show up during the entire debate. In a text message to Tinig ng Plaridel, he said that his absence was due to having pneumonia earlier in the day. He said that he cannot stay under the heat of the sun and simply stayed inside buildings for the day.