By Mark Pere Madrona
Tinig Ng Plaridel/

Party politics has hindered student leaders from serving the students, said the independent candidates for University Student Council (USC) councilor in separate interviews.

The candidates earlier said during a Feb. 12 forum at Kalayaan Residence Hall that they did not need parties to win.

For Arnie “Bong” Arquiza, the party culture in university has become reflective of present Philippine politics.

Students’ interests have taken a backseat because most student leaders “put forward their political interests first,” Arquiza said.

Arquiza said being free from political partisanship was one way he could better serve the students, adding that leaders did not need to totally embrace a party’s principles.

“I really think that my loyalty should remain with the students and not with any of the parties,” Arquiza said.

He said the edge of being independent, despite the lack of machinery and finances, was “the overwhelming reception that the students are giving me.”

Meanwhile, Christopher “Kester” Yu said he ran as an independent because he did not want to take part in the petty rivalry between the three major parties.

“Sometimes, the rivalry between these parties gets in the way of their members’ service to the students,” Yu said.

However, Yu said that if he won, he would not alienate himself from any of the parties and maintain good working relationship with fellow council members.

Yu, the outgoing chair of the College of Science Student Council, said he made “more friends than enemies” during the campaign as an independent.

He added that he did not train formally for the campaign and even had to design and cut his publicity materials on his own.

In USC, a ‘game of numbers’

USC councilor Lauryel Castillo, who ran independently in last year’s elections, said that only independents can genuinely consider divergent viewpoints.

“No matter how a member of a party insists that he or she will be open to varying
perspectives, the extent of that openness would still be determined by the party,” he said.

Castillo said he intended to bridge the members of different parties. “I thought that an independent candidate would be in the best position to do all of these,” he said.

Decision-making in the USC is a “game of numbers” for the parties, Castillo said.

“Decisions on which programs, projects or stands would benefit the studentry are based solely on the number of incumbent USC members each party has,” he said.

“More often than not, those who make it to the USC find themselves engaged in more politics than service,” he said.

Castillo ranked fifth among 32 candidates for USC councilor last year, winning 2,998 votes.

Castillo’s showing was the highest for an independent candidate in UP Diliman since the 2004 USC Elections.


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