Tensions ran high among candidates while calling for accountability from the current College of Mass Communication Student Council (CMCSC) on their work ethic and the CMC Affiliates Program (CAP), which gathers student volunteers for council projects.

Incumbent CMC Representative to the USC Arlan Jondonero claimed that with each member of the CMCSC heading two committees, it became difficult to lobby the campaigns of the council.

However, STAND UP CMC candidate for CMC Representative to the University Student Council (USC) Jefferson Losito questioned him about their efforts to involve students in those initiatives, asking, “How do you respond to ‘Nagsisisi tayo na may dalawang committees’ when we can encourage constituents to be part of our activities?”

“We recognize this. As chairperson, gusto natin mapasama ‘yung constituents sa activities ng council. Dapat mahihikayat sila na sumali sa susunod na taon,” Jondonero replied.

Four independent candidates contended with STAND UP CMC (Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP-CMC) on more issues such as press freedom, venue fees, and the UP Diliman Students’ Magna Carta, in a three-part debate last Thursday at the CMC auditorium.

Jondonero, Liah Gomez, Matt Vesliño, and Laurice Sy are running independently for Chairperson, CMC Representative to the USC, Film Representative, and Journalism Representative respectively. Jondonero, Gomez, and Vesliño are also members of CMC Interdependent Student-Centered Activism (ISA), which is currently facing internal problems, which has led to them not fielding candidates for this year’s student council elections.

Headlining STAND UP CMC are Gab Ramos for Chairperson, incumbent USC councilor Nacho Domingo for Vice Chairperson, and Jeff Losito for CMC Representative to the USC.

Hosted by the UP Radio Circle, the debate entitled “On the Spot” is the official University Student Council (USC) and CMCSC forum of the College of Mass Communication. There were three rounds on national and college-specific issues, including an interrogation portion among candidates and an open forum with the audience.

Calling for accountability

Incumbent CMC FST Council Film Representative Veslino said that “there was lack of transparency with some of the projects” by the current CMCSC.

“I acknowledge lapses namin, also my individual lapses na maraming projects na hindi nagawa, in completion, or as efficiently as we wanted to,” said Gomez, the current Broadcast Communication (BC) Representative.

Gomez said some efforts of the council were not known to students, but if re-elected, she will assist her fellow council members in doing their projects.

Losito also pointed out the lapses in stand making in the previous term, saying “May kawalan ng regular at transparent na pag-uupload ng minutes. Nahirapan ang constituents makita ‘yung kalagayan ng college at relationship with the admin.”

STAND UP also did not escape the grilling when asked about their stand on the Magna Carta (MC) issue inside the university.

Hindi nagbago ang stand for the longest time na ‘No to current form of Magna Carta’,”  Losito said. STAND UP CMC clarified that they are not against the codification of students’ rights, rather, they forward a document that will genuinely serve the interests of the students.

CMC deanship and FSRC

All bets expressed frustration over the lack of transparency of former CMC dean Elena Pernia, now succeeded by Professor Arminda Santiago.

Kahit wala na siya [Pernia] sa pwesto ng unang semester, siya pa rin pinupuntahan, siya pa rin nag-act na dean kahit tapos na ang term,” said Jondonero.

But Ramos also questioned Jondonero’s concrete efforts to lobby against the Faculty-Student Relations Committee (FSRC) manual, and if he had done anything more than “posting a status on Facebook.”

Both Jondonero and Gomez answered that the former council was part of the lobbying for a new dean alongside CMC organizations.

Meanwhile, Sy said that the new dean has to address the issue of transparency and that this calls for a more united college in the future coming into the new term. “We welcome her [Santiago] with an open mind, someone who’s gonna be with us in issues we’ll face,” she said.

Ramos shared sentiments with Sy that despite supporting Professor Diosa Labiste in the deanship, they will not treat Santiago as an enemy.

“This is a good sign na she [Santiago] is willing at open na makipagusap sa atin. Receptive sa bagong ideas at panawagan natin bilang mga estudyante,” he said.

Defend press freedom

Opinions were also raised regarding threats against the press, including Rappler’s CEO and Executive Director Maria Ressa.

“These are legalistic maneuvers meant to scare her to not do her mandate to tell the truth. They are our role models. They are who we’re going to follow when we do our mandate to have a free and liberating press that serves the people,” Sy said.

STAND UP CMC’s Raffy Purisima, running for Communication Research representative, lambasted the Duterte administration and called for a tougher college council amid these threats.

Sa patuloy nating pag-abante para sa press freedom, ‘wag tayong matakot manindigan. Ito ay bitbit ng ating partido na hindi natin siya ikukulong sa ating kolehiya. Mahalaga ang midyang malaya para sa tunay na demokrasya,” he said.

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