by Melissa Luz Lopez, Elizabeth Escaño, Dexter Cabalza
Candidates for the upcoming University Student Council (USC) elections articulated their programs of action as they battled out in “UPFront,” an elections forum of the UP Economics Society on February 22.
Nominees for chairperson and vice chairperson of each party discussed their programs of action with one councilor.
Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP standard bearers Amancio Melad III and Soraya Escandor said “collective action” is the most effective form of action against the problems of society.
Therese Buergo, STAND UP candidate for councilor, stressed the importance of education as the “key to nation-building” as she lobbied for the fight for greater budget for state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran meanwhile campaigned for a USC “with zero tolerance for frat-related violence” and “without cases of gender discrimination and sexual harassment,” said the party’s candidate for vice chairperson Ace Ligsay.
ALYANSA candidate for councilor Revee Rapallo, also the current Engineering Student Council chairperson, stood alongside standard bearers Heart Diño and Ligsay in their calls for an “open, transparent and accountable” USC.
“ALYANSA wants to return the trust of the students to the student council,” Rapallo said, adding that students must be “heard, valued, and engaged” as they are represented.
Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan standard bearers Shaina Santiago and Alex Castro said ordinary students can strive to make a difference.
Castro said an ordinary student “can influence others to make a difference”.
Santiago meanwhile said that she does not measure the service a student can do “by one’s position, gender or age.”
KAISA councilor candidate Jules Guiang, who is also the incumbent National College of Public Administration and Governance Student Government chairperson, said their party’s “Six Will Fix Campaign” is a fight of the USC as well. The campaign called to rechannel six percent of the country’s gross national product (GNP) to education.
Independent candidate for chairperson and third year Juris Doctor Martin Loon said his presence in UPFront is “reward enough” because of the difficulties of campaigning without a party.
“Malaking honor na makilala ang mga students at marinig kung ano ang gusto niyo sa USC,” Loon said.
Loon, with his statement “Education is the greatest equalizer,” said he wants to see the university in what he calls a “sacred fight” for education.
According to fourth year Journalism student Suzette Dalumpines, UPFront was “a good chance for candidates to really present themselves, as well as their program of [action], to the students”.
Dalumpines also noted that the candidates were able to “show who they really are and what kind of leaders they would be.”
Fraternity affiliations of candidates
An audience member addressed a question to candidates who are members of fraternities on their group’s actions on fraternity-related violence.
Guiang, resident lord of the Alpha Phi Beta, said they are “facing what needs to be faced,” referring to the frat wars with Alpha Sigma.
“Hindi tayo dapat magpalamon sa sistema (ng frat wars),” Guiang added.
Asked on the case of Miles Marquez, Melad from the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity clarified that the Eta chapter was not involved. Melad added that he does not know such person.
Sigma Rho Fraternity member Loon said he had no personal knowledge on the death of Cris Mendez.
Loon however added that fraternities should be viewed as “a venue for academic excellence.”
“We are the last people to want violence in this campus,” he said.
Photos by Jon Benedik Bunquin