USC seats left vacant as abstentions prevailed anew

Top posts in the University Student Council (USC), including all 12 councilor seats, will remain vacant as the Diliman electorate opted to vote abstain in this year’s elections.

Independent USC chairperson candidate Erwin Ace Medina’s election bid faltered after the 4,668-strong abstentions outnumbered his 3,010 votes. Meanwhile, USC vice chairperson bet Charles Shi obtained 3,019 votes against 4,659 abstentions. 

While both Medina and Shi ran unopposed, they must first secure the majority of the votes to be seated in the council, according to a 2016 University Student Electoral Tribunal ruling

Likewise, no councilor candidate garnered enough votes to surpass the 2,890 students who abstained. The top councilor candidate, Aika Vergara, was more than 500 votes short of defeating abstentions and thus was not proclaimed a winner.

The future of Diliman remains uncertain as students will enter the academic year with only the six elected college representatives composing the USC.

In an interview right after the proclamation of winners on Friday, May 31, USEB faculty member Dr. Manuel Manuel III told Tinig ng Plaridel that they have yet to meet to determine how the vacant USC seats will be filled.

Last year, abstentions also prevailed in the chair and vice chair posts, prompting the USEB to call for special elections. Independent candidates Shine Reyes and Sean Latorre were eventually elected to lead the USC but with a record-low turnout of 8.29%.

Read: Special elex tallies low voter turnout, fills five USC vacancies

While the turnout for this year’s polls is more than 20 points higher than in the 2023 USC special elections, this race marked the lowest student voter participation since 2000, based on Philippine Collegian’s report.

Only 7,678 out of 24,913 students, or 30.82% of the electorate, participated in the polls despite a hybrid election setup that allowed students to vote online or in person at polling booths in their colleges.

Notably, this year’s two-day voting period was also the shortest since the 2021 elections introduced online voting.  

Along with the low turnout, the number of candidates for the USC also decreased as the presence of political parties diminished

Read: #HalalanUPD2024: Lack of student council candidates continues

All candidates vying for USC seats ran as independents, except for councilor candidate Jael Gonzales who ran under the political party UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran.

The political party Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) decided to skip this year’s elections as the organization continues to “rebuild.”

The red party has dominated USC elections since the pandemic except last year when its former members exposed the organization’s mishandling of sexual harassment cases during the 2023 Aktibisita forum. 

This led to candidates and local chapters to disaffiliate from the university-wide political party.

Related: CMC slate leaves STAND UP banner, runs independently

Incumbent USC Chairperson Reyes in a tweet said that the council will consult the student body regarding its contingency plans in the aftermath of the elections. 

“The elections are not the end-all and be-all of the student movement. With all the issues we face, the burden falls on us all, the broader student body, to unite and address them,” Reyes said. 

Here are the full results of this year’s elections: 


Abstain – 4,668 

Erwin Ace Medina (Independent) – 3,010


Abstain – 4,659

Charles Shi (Independent) – 3,019

COUNCILORS: All vacant

Abstain – 2,890

Aika Vergara (Independent) – 2,324

Jael Gonzales (UP ALYANSA) – 2,169

Sam Acabado (Independent) – 2,123

Kian Noguera (Independent) – 2,002

Mac Bautista (Independent) – 1,879

Chabby Jabson (Independent) – 1,819

Matty Rodrigo (Independent) – 1,807

Ced Torres (Independent) – 1,663

Justin Ocate (Independent) – 1,608

Lucas Buenaflor (Independent) – 1,464

Gel Bergonio (Independent) – 1,355

College Representatives

College of Law: Eiya Buan (Independent) – 692 

College of Mass Communication: Ciro Quiapos (Independent) – 297 

College of Social Sciences and Philosophy: Pia Cruz (Independent) – 759 

College of Social Work and Community Development: Ayn Bulangis (Independent) – 172 

National College of Public Administration and Governance: Paulo Basubas (Independent) – 172 

Virata School of Business: Rus Illumin (Independent) – 271