by Maria Feona Imperial
University Student Council (USC) Councilor Christian Lemuel “Lem” Magaling was officially suspended from his post Friday for violating several provisions of the USC constitution, house rules and guidelines.
According to a USC statement posted online, Magaling, who heads the USC Education and Research (EdRes) Committee, exceeded the maximum number of demerits due to unexcused absences, tardiness and the unauthorized release of publicity materials, among others.
On June 6, the USC implemented a demerit system to sanction incumbent council members who commit violations to ensure that they would “always act with the best interests of the constituents in mind and to make them accountable for any misconduct or irresponsible action.”
The system was amended during the USC’s mid-semester assessment held Aug. 9, which Magaling was unable to attend. An officer with three demerits would receive a warning from the Secretariat, while an officer with six demerits would be automatically suspended until a trial for impeachment is arranged by the council.
To date, Magaling incurred a total number of 6.5 demerits, making him eligible for suspension and impeachment.
The breakdown of demerits are as follows: one point for the unauthorized release of an Alternative Classroom Learning Experience (ACLE) publicity material, one point for appearing in a video released by a political party bearing the USC logo without the body’s consent, four points for unexcused absences and one-half point for tardiness in USC meetings and events.
Magaling, however, said he believes that he has fulfilled his roles as USC councilor, and the basis for his suspension lacked enough merit.
“Naniniwala ako sa kritikal na pagsusuri ng mga kapwa ko mag-aaral na ang ibinigay na batayan upang ako’y masuspinde ay ‘di sapat at mababaw. Ikinalulungkot ko na sa mga panahong kailangan ng pagkakaisa upang harapin ang mga suliraning panlipunan, mas pinagtutuunan ng pansin ang mga ganitong isyu (I trust that the critical minds of my fellow students would let them see that the basis for my suspension is insufficient. It is saddening that in times when unity is needed amidst societal problems, an issue like this is given more attention),” Magaling said in a text message.
Magaling said he hopes to resolve the issue and instead push for campaigns that should be advanced by the USC.
USC Chairperson Ana Alexandra Castro said this is the first time the institution released an official notice regarding an officer’s suspension, for purposes of transparency and accountability.
“With respect to the national arena, the council has always remained steadfast in demanding for full disclosure from our government officials. I believe that the notice the council released is a testament to its commitment to the very principles it upholds and protects,” Castro said in a text message.
During the period of suspension, Magaling is stripped of all titles, rights and privileges as a council member until his impeachment trial, which will be held Monday at the USC Emergency General Assembly in Vinzons Hall at 7 p.m.
Castro said prior to the deliberations, Magaling will be allowed to deliver a privilege speech upon request.
According to council guidelines, the USC councilor-candidate with the next highest number of votes from the previous elections will be appointed in the case of Magaling’s impeachment.