DLSU-D Student Council Elections: Why is there no abstain vote?

Q: Why is there no “abstain” or abstention vote in DLSU-D Student Council Elections?

A: The phrase “abstention votes” is an oxymoron, an abstention being a refusal to vote. To abstain means to refrain from voting, and, as a consequence, there can be no such thing as an “abstention vote.” – Roberts’ Rules of Order

And so in the Student Council elections, if a student wishes to abstain from voting because the current candidates are not to his/her liking, the student simply does not vote.

The idea of putting the option of “abstain” in the ballot to indicate an abstention vote was never considered during the Student Election Code Convention of 2008 because all of us delegates at that time were of the mindset that since to abstain is to simply not vote, there’s no point in putting it as an option in the ballot. It would just be a waste of space on the ballot and unnecessary cost.

Besides, if a student doesn’t want to vote because the candidates to choose from did not suit their preferences or win their support, asking them to put it in writing or expressing it through the ballot would just be an added burden to the student and to those managing the elections.

Not voting on election day is the most powerful way of saying, “I abstain.”

The SCE still has jurisdiction over electronic form of election propaganda

One of the most novel and equally controversial provisions of the Revised Student Election Code of DLSU-D is the provision concerning electronic forms of election propaganda.

Background

Yours truly was part of the body that assembled to revise the old Student Election Code of DLSU-D back in 2008. Considering my background in social media publishing, aka I’m a blogger, and my previous experience in being Chair of the 2007 Students’ Constitutional Convention that drafted the 2008 USC Constitution, the body appointed me to draft the provisions concerning electronic forms of propaganda.

When we say electronic form of election propaganda we mean campaigning done through SMS, the Internet – in particular social media, video, audio and any other means of electronic communication.

As early as the 2007 elections, political parties were already using SMS, aka group messages to campaign for their candidates during elections. Back then, there were no provisions in the old E-Code about this method or other electronic campaign propaganda, however, the SCE still allowed it given that the campaign messages did not contain defamatory/libelous content against any political party and/or candidate.

As time went on, social media like Multiply.com which was still famous back then, were also used as election propaganda. Other political parties started putting up websites of their own. Again, up until the 2008 Revised E-Code, there were no provisions about the electronic election propaganda, yet they were still allowed and that the contents conformed to the relevant provisions of the E-Code. In addition to content, such electronic campaign propaganda were only used, published and utilized during the campaign period. Outside of the campaign period, they were strictly prohibited.

This was the experience and practice that became the norm up until the 2008 Revised E-Code was drafted, ratified and took effect beginning the 2009 USC and CSC elections.

So when we considered the provisions about the electronic form of election propaganda, we realized that it was impractical and impossible for the SCE to fully regulate it in the manner it can regulate non-electronic forms like tarpaulins, fliers, leaflets, posters, pins, shirts, etc. Simply because electronic election propaganda were intangible and resided only the vast expanse of the Internet and electronic gadgets while the non-electronic election propaganda were physically tangible and were only used inside the campus well within the literal jurisdiction of the SCE.

However, the body also understood that we cannot stop the march of progress and the creativity of the political parties – electronic forms of election propaganda is the way to go.

Compromise: Continue from historical experience and practice

So the compromise was that the SCE gave up jurisdiction over electronic forms of election propaganda in terms of the quantity, dimensions and the locations where they can be posted. However, the contents or substance and timeliness of its usage remained under the jurisdiction of the SCE as was the practice back in 2007.

Political parties and candidates were free to use any forms of electronic election propaganda be it SMS, social media, dedicated websites, videos, cover photos, profile photos, infographics etc. as long as the contents conformed to the applicable provisions of the E-code that regulated content:

Section 50. Prohibited Forms of Campaign Paraphernalia/Propaganda. Any
campaign paraphernalia/propaganda shall be unlawful if it:
Xxx xxx xxx
b. Contains the Course of the candidate.
c. Contains defamatory/libellous content against any political
party and/or candidate.
d. Involves the use of logo/name of any outside organization/
individual that has not been a donor of the political party and/
or candidate.

Aside from the content, the timeliness of using electronic election propaganda is also regulated by the E-code, that such campaigning is prohibited outside the campaign period.

A perfect sample case or precedent was the case of SENTRO vs SINAG, 2007-2008 elections wherein a campaign manager of SINAG political party was caught campaigning on election day itself using group SMS. SINAG was disqualified not for using SMS, but for campaigning during election days.

Provisions of the E-Code must be interpreted in harmony, not in conflict

Now, there is a serious misconception that since there is Section 47, f. that says:

The SCE shall have no jurisdiction over electronic form of election propaganda

It means that political parties and candidates have absolute freedom with electronic election propaganda. This is wrong. This is the wrong way of interpreting the E-Code because if this was correct, there would be a conflict with Section 50, c. of the E-Code which prohibits campaign propaganda that is defamatory/libelous. In legal practice, the Supreme Court explains why provisions of a law or code must not be taken against the other provisions, instead it should be interpreted and implemented in harmony with other provisions that express the intention of the authors of the law or its spirit.

The rule is that a a code is enacted as a single, comprehensive statute, and is to be considered as such and not as a series of disconnected articles or provisions. (Baking v. Director of Prisons)

Thus Section 47, f and Section 50 can stand side by side and not in opposition to one another. That parties and candidates can use any form of electronic election propaganda and regardless of its quantities as long as the contents do not contain defamatory or libelous content nor the courses of the candidates it bears and that such electronic campaign propaganda be used only during the campaign period.

A parallel case would be SWAFO’s past investigation in the blind-item pages in Facebook where students are sharing/posting their “secret stories” about life as a student in DLSU-D. The student handbook does not prohibit students about creating social media accounts, but if such accounts are being used to post content that are malicious or libelous against any member of the academic community, school administrators are authorized to investigate and if proven, discipline erring students.

It should be now clear to all students, specially the political parties, their candidates and the Student Commission on Elections that the use of electronic election propaganda are still subject to the provisions of the Student Election Code.

SERVE’s Self-Awareness Seminar 2013

Last August 10, I joined my fellow Lasallian SERVE volunteers for their annual Self-Awareness Seminar where I gave a talk about Volunteerism. The Self-Awareness Seminar or SAS is the first formation/training program that new SERVE volunteers must attend in order to become full-pledged members. For those who are wondering, SERVE stands for Students’ Extension of Resources through Voluntary Efforts. It is a program for Transformative Education of the Lasallian Community Development Center. It is also the oldest student-volunteer program of De La Salle University – Dasmarinas in fulfillment of its holistic Lasallian formation and social action program.

SAS-ALT 2013

For this year, SAS was held in the beautiful Lopez Farm in Naic, Cavite. Getting there was a real challenge as there were no markers or signage to point where it is exactly. In general though, it is located in Barangay Sabang, Naic, Cavite some two and a half hours south of Manila.

It’s on the left hand side of the road from Pala-pala where you’d have to keep an eye out for a great white wall quickly followed by an old factory painted in green with a metal gate. Right beside is it a narrow dirt road that winds its way through a rice field which easily becomes impassable for cars and sedans once heavy rain turns into a small creek.

But the short adventure ride is rewarded by the sight of Lopez Farm which really gives you a nice, relaxed and peaceful countryside ambiance. ideal for retreats, gatherings and of course training.

We stayed there for one and a half days which was spent on a good combination of lectures and team-building activities designed to welcome students into the life of being a Lasallian volunteer. My fellow alumni joined in as well continuing the tradition of “once a volunteer, always a volunteer.”

The gist of my presentation, could be summed up in the following line from the Principles of Lasallian Social Development ((Guiding Principles of the Philippine Lasallian Family, 2nd Edition)):

Lasallians must act to eliminate forms of human suffering that contradict God’s plan of fullness of life.

I look forward to joining them again in their up coming activities. Seeing the passion in their eyes, I quite pleased and proud to say that after we’ve been long gone from DLSU-D, the spirit of Lasallian volunteerism lives on and just keeps on getting stronger. You can learn more about them via their Facebook page here. Students of DLSU-D can make their college life more worthwhile by joining and becoming a volunteer. 🙂

How does it work: DLSU-D Student Election System

Today is the first of the two Election Days in which students of DLSU-D will vote for a new set of University and College Student Council officers.

From a total of 97 candidates, 49 came from Samahan ng mga Estudyanteng Naninindigan para sa Tunay na Reporma at Ordinansa (SENTRO) political party, 46 came from SINAG Political Party while two are running as independent candidates.

They are contesting a total of 64 positions in the 7 College Student Councils and the lone University Student Council.

The total number of student-voters in DLSU-D is estimated to number around 12,000. However, year after year, the average voters’ turnout is around 30-45%. It’s a long standing issue which deserves a separate discussion in another post for another time.

Today, I will deal with one of the most pressing questions with regards to the elections: “How are winners of the elections determined?

The answer can be found in Sections 112 and 113, Article XIII of the 2008 Revised Student Election Code of DLSU-D, which reads:

Section 112. USC Officers. Candidates who have obtained the highest total percentage of votes cast in all colleges shall be the winners for the said positions in the USC.

The winning candidates are determined in the following manner: first, each candidate’s collegiate electoral score is determined by obtaining the percentage of votes cast for him/her in each college, second, each candidate’s electoral collegiate score is combined, and third, the candidates with the highest combined collegiate electoral scores shall be the winners of the election for
USC Officers.

Section 113. CSC Officers. Candidates who have obtained the highest total percentage of votes cast in all program courses offered in their respective college shall be the winners for the said positions in the CSC.

The winning candidates are determined in the following manner: first, each candidate’s program electoral score is determined by obtaining the percentage of votes cast for him/her in each program offered in his/her respective college, second, each candidate’s electoral program score is combined, and third, the candidates with the highest combined program electoral scores shall be the winners of the election for CSC Officers.

This is what has been called as the Collegiate Electoral Score system. The wording of the provisions are clear on how it works, but it’s a lot easier to understand by looking at it’s formula version:

Collegiate Electoral Score formula
Formula for the Collegiate Electoral Score

A candidate’s Collegiate Electoral Score in each of the 7 colleges are then added together for his/her final score. The candidate with the highest final score would be the winner for the position he/she contested.

The same formula is used in the College Student Council elections, but instead of “Votes cast in a college“, it will be “Votes cast in a program” or a course in that college. Then, all the scores are again added together. The candidate with the highest score wins the position he/she contested.

Does this formula conform with the 2008 USC Constitution? Yes it does. The USC Constitution simply requires that USC Officers be elected at large by the bonafide students of DLSU-D. (Sec. 2, Art. V, 2008 USC Constitution)

By “at large” it means all the students in the University. However, within the University, there are seven colleges with differing student populations. Some colleges are twice or even triple the size of another college in terms of student population. An example would be the College of Business Administration which has the largest student population of over 3,000 students. This is more than double the population of the College of Criminal Justice Education whose population is no more than 1,000 students.

So before the Collegiate Electoral Score system was introduced, student elections in DLSU-D have been dominated by political parties with solid support from the largest colleges namely the College of Business Administration and College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.

The voices of the smaller colleges are drowned by the votes of the biggest colleges. That is not in line with the essence of democracy, that is a ‘virtual dictatorship’ of a few colleges.

In order to remedy this unfair situation, the framers of the 2008 Revised Student Election Code of DLSU-D devised the Collegiate Electoral Score system. It was inspired by the Electoral College system used in the election of US Presidents.

Because like DLSU-D, the United States of America faced essentially the same problems in every election, there are states that are more numerous than other states in terms of population. William C. Kimberling, Deputy Director of the Federal Election Commission Office of Election Administration explained:

Direct election was rejected not because the Framers of the [US] Constitution doubted public intelligence but rather because they feared that without sufficient information about candidates from outside their State, people would naturally vote for a “favorite son” from their own State or region. At worst, no president would emerge with a popular majority sufficient to govern the whole country. At best, the choice of president would always be decided by the largest, most populous States with little regard for the smaller ones.

Paraphrasing Mr Kimberling in the context of DLSU-D elections, USC officers would always be decided by the largest, most populous colleges with little regard for the smaller colleges under the old system. Such candidates may have the highest votes in the election, but it is not the popular majority from all the seven colleges in the University.

So in setting up the Collegiate Electoral Score system for DLSU-D, the framers of the 2008 Revised Election Code adopted the principle that each of the seven colleges be given equal weight during elections. The system will also ensure that the winning USC officers would have the majority support of students from each of the seven colleges, not the majority of just one or two colleges.

The new system creates a more level playing field for political parties their candidates and it even gives a chance for independent candidates to take on veteran players, this ultimately leads to a more dynamic and vibrant student-politics in DLSU-D. Equally important, it gives real meaning to one of the oldest slogans in the USC – “unity amidst diversity.

Disclosure: I was a member of the Student Election Code Revision Convention. I present, I am affiliated with SENTRO Political Party.

What the Edsa revolution was all about

Last Wednesday, I had the chance to participate in De La Salle University – DasmarinasEDSA Youth Day Candle Lighting Activity – a response to the call for a new People Power to surface in the hands of the youth who shall be the future builders of the country.

Also, that day, February 23 was designated as the Youth Day in celebration of teh 25th EDSA People Power Revolution by the EDSA People Power Commission.

The program was simple enough, DLSU-D invited over students from neighboring school National College of Science and Technology, along with UPAC, an NGO which supported the presidential campaign of Noynoy Aquino, son of the late Cory Aquino who became President because of the Edsa People Power revolution.

Together we marched outside the campus gates and onto the sidewalk, so that people outside would know and remember we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Edsa People Power revolution.

Then we marched back inside, parading around campus to remind our own fellow students of the importance of the occasion and to encourage them to take part in it.

EDSA Youth Day Candle Lighting

It culminated in a short interfaith prayer service and candle-lighting ceremony in which testimonies from DLSU-D’s own ranks who were part of the Edsa People Power revolution were heard, aimed at further reminding the youth of the task now at hand – continuing the revolution until the suffering of the Filipino people have been eliminated.

Though I have my own convictions on the role of the youth in moving this country forward, it is not necessarily rooted in the precepts and doctrines that arose from Edsa People Power revolution. It is the not the revolution I had mind, but it’s part of my history now and make no mistake I am proud of that history.

I just cannot find the words that will help me answer this question with satisfaction – what was the Edsa revolution all about?

So I am thankful to have found refuge in this remarkable speech made by the so-called ‘Dreamer of Edsa’ himself, the late Chino Roces – one of the few who have been in opposition to the Marcos dictatorship long before the late Cardinal Sin made the call to flock on Edsa and bring down that dictatorship.

I share it today believing that every Filipino will find something, if not all of it, in it that will rekindle the fire that has moved our people to greatness.

——–

Response on being awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor, Degree of Chief Commander

(Malacanan Palace, Manila, June 26, 1988)

Mrs. President, My Dearest Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I accept the honor you have just given the Filipino people through me. I accept on behalf of countless faceless and nameless souls whose names we do not even know or remember, but whose deeds in defense of democracy, freedom, justice, truth, and peace are now engraved for all time and clime in the memory and in the heart of our nation and of all nations and peoples via the photograph of the Filipino woman slipping the stem of a rose into the barrel of a soldier’s rifle at Edsa. And then there was freedom regained.

To many of us, it was like a sequence from a dream which had its beginning in September 1972 when liberation from tyranny seemed elusive. It was the Impossible Dream, but only for those who accepted defeat out of indifference, apathy and cowardice. But for those who believed, and still do that ours is a nation of heroes, fifthy-eight million strong, it was a dream that would transform into a totally different Philippines of righteousness and hope.

For me, that dream goes on. For Edsa was just the beginning. And the dream of a Filipino nation – of freedom, of justice, of equal opportunity, of peace and brotherhood – must remain in our consciousness and conscience at all times, in all climes, True, it is the dream of the innocent. But it is also the dream of the brave and the heroic. And we must all keep on dreaming because those who never dream no longer have hearts that beat or breath that inspires or faith that overcomes.

Last night, I had a dream.

In that dream, you and I were in this very same room of Malacanan. The dream did not have an honoree. We were just here together – all of us with no defined role. The President was seated just as she is now, between Pacita and me, just as we now are. From what I can now recall of my dream, we were just staring at each other, there was total silence from many minutes until-until the President turned to me and said: “Chino would you please give me some unsolicited advice?”

I then quickly faced the President and repiled: “Cory (if I may call you such now, Mrs President) you know I will, because not even in my wildest dreams will I ever deny you or your littlest wish.”

Being the dreamer that I am, permit me then to go on dreaming in this autumn of my life. And so I give the unsolicited advice to you, Cory, and to all of you, my friends.

Please allow me to remind you, first: That our people brough a new government to power because our people felt an urgent need for change. That change was nothing more and nothing less than of moving quickly into a new moral order. The people believed, and many of them still do, that when we said we would be the exact opposite of Marcos, we would be just that. Because of that promise which the people believed, our triumph over Marcos was anchored on a principle of morality. And that for our people was and is the bottom line.

It was not the rice, roads, bridges, water, electricity and such other mundane things that people expected of us. It was, and is, much more: A moral order led by you Cory, and by you, my friends now gathered here. To our people, I dare propose that the new moral order is appreciated in terms of our response to graft and corruption in the public service. We cannot afford a government of thieves unless we tolerate a nation of highwaymen.

You will also recall that the thirst for justice was and remains the utmost desire of our people.

But even while we do all these, I must remind you again that the most understandable concept of the delivery of justice, in the perception of the Filipino, is the one that clearly implements a system of reward and censure. Yes, the Filipino forgives, and perhaps he has even forgiven those who raped his motherland, butchered his liberty and his sons, and degraded his dignity.

But he will never fogive us if, in the act of “reconcillation”, we fail to exact justice, if in the process of making the criminal pay his debts to society, we instead prove that crime pays because of our compromises and deals with the offender. And most important, if we the victors in the 1986 drama of good versus evil, show the slightest sign that we too adopt one standard for the wrongdoer who is poor and without connections, and another for the criminal who is rich and well-connected, then we would be proven liars.

Then of course, we must talk of Edsa and the struggle before and after Edsa. Let us not speak of Edsa as our franchise, whether we refer to those of us who began the long march with Ninoy in 1969, or those who joined us after Ninoy was murdered in 1983. The franchise, we must remember, belongs and belongs only to our people. The struggle for freedom was not forged on Ayala Avenue. Let us never allow our history to record that what happened in Edsa was planned in boardrooms and executive suites. Let us insist that Edsa was the long-delayed outpouring of the conscience of the littlest man, the littlest wife, and the littlest child – all of them Filipinos – from the littlest house of the littlest barangay. It was the triumph of the Filipino soul.

As we speak of so-called little people, let us not forget either that those who profess to be in their service must at least know them, if not from among them. The burden on the public servant then must be the ability not only to speak for the peple but also to act for the people. Biodata reflect talent. But we must insist that public service – first, last and foremost – place a premium on one’s record of commitment to the common tao of selflessness and dedication versus the all-too-common self-aggrandizement and service to vested interests, relatives and friends.

And this can be achieved only when we decide to see who live beyond the bridge of our nose, the confines of our conference rooms, the clotheslines in our backyard, and the land beyond the river. Somewhere out there are many honest, hardworking, selfless, God-loving Filipinos who may not be a doctor or master of something, or rich, but just the same Filipinos who will labor for love of country and fellow Filipino. They are waiting to be called to serve. Open the door and let them in.

I must end now before I experience a repeat of 1985. We were still trying to gather the one million signatures that Cory said might convince her to run against Marcos. The phone rang and Cory was at the other end of the line. And she told me: “Chino, tama na ‘yang kalokohan ninyo!

Now I must tell all of you that no matter what you say, this old man called Chino will still go out to sea – there to gaze at the sky and the stars – still dreaming the impossible dream but never refusing to sleep.

For in the words of Robert Frost:

“The woods are lovely dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep…
And miles to go before I seep.”

I thank you.

Source: pamphlet, with citation and response, provided courtesy of Ma. Ceres P. Doyo to Manuel L Quezon III for the book 20 Speeches that Moved A Nation. Anvil Publishing 2002

Requirements for being a candidate in the student council elections of DLSU-D

Yesterday was the start of the student council election season in DLSU-D. For yesterday was the first day of filing of candidacy for those students aspiring to become officers of the student council.

This ten working day period for the filing of candidacy will end on January 18, 2010, this was set in Section 39, Article VII of the 2008 Revised Student Election Code of DLSU-D. So by now, students of DLSU-D can expect that the three active political parties – Partido Indipendiente (PI), SINAG Political Party, and Samahan ng mga Estudyanteng Naninindigan para sa Tunay na Reporma at Ordinansa (SENTRO) Political party – are busy in assisting their prospective candidates with processing their candidacies.

The requirements for the filing of one’s candidacy is enumerated in Sec. 38 Art. VII of the same election code. These are:

a. Two (2) candidacy forms with two (2) recent uniform copies of 2×2 pictures
b. Certification of grades from the registrar’s office, of the semester preceding the elections
c. Recommendation letters from their respective Deans or from the Department Chair and noted by the Dean
d. Program or Platform of Government (for independent candidates only)
e. Certificate of good moral character issued by the Office of the Student Services
f. Photocopy of the current semester’s Registration form
g. Formal written parental consent for all candidates of USC and CSC’s
h. Other necessary requirements set by the SCE to substantiate any of the above mentioned requirements

These requirements are meant to prove that they have satisfied the qualifications for a candidate in the student council elections set forth in Sec. 37 Art. VII of the 2008 DLSU-D E-Code:

a. Be a bona fide student of the School and must have been a student of the university for at least one (1) year immediately preceding the election.
b. Carry a minimum load of fifteen (15) units during the semester or as prescribed by the college. However, candidates may appeal to the SCE if their load for the semester is less than (15) units, supported by a valid reason for such underload and certified by their College Dean.
c. Have obtained a GPA of 1.5 or higher during the semester immediately preceding the election ((For candidates for the College Student Councils, the GPA requirement is not 1.5 but according to the standard set by their respective college)).
d. Have no failing grade in any of the subjects enrolled during the semester immediately preceding the election
e. Not have been found guilty of committing any major offense

The Commissioners of the Student Commission on Elections (SCE) will then take these required documents and examine them, then decide if the aspirant will be proclaimed as an official student candidate or not.

There are several factors that can influence or determine the outcome of the SCE’s decision. These are:

  • Completeness of the requirements
  • Credibility and Validity of the requirements
  • Substance of the requirements
  • A legal challenge or opposition to the filing of candidacy of a particular student

I would go into the details of these factors in the next post. To all aspiring students out there who believe that they can be of great service to the student body, it’s wise to get familiarized with how the 2008 Election Code of DLSU-D works.

Disclosure: I am affiliated with SENTRO Political Party

DLSUD: Impeaching a College Student Council Officer

As far as I can recall, no University or College Student Council officer have been subjected to impeachment proceedings ever since the 2008 USC Constitution took effect two years ago. Except for now, when the current President of College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Student Council, CEATSC, recently sought my advice on how to initiate one against their fellow officer.

Without going into the details of this controversy so as not to prejudice the impeachment proceedings and its subject student council officer, I would just explain how the impeachment proceeding works under the current 2008 USC Constitution.

For impeaching officers of the University Student Council’s Executive Board, the steps to follow have been clearly spelled out in Article VII: Accountability of Student Leaders/Officers.

In layman’s terms here are the steps:

First, any of the following grounds must be present; culpable violation of the constitution, meaning there is a deliberate and wrongful breach of the constitution; gross inability to perform his/her official functions as a council officer; malversation of council funds; and becoming an officer in another student organization during his/her term as a council officer. (Sec. 4, Art. VII)

Second, the impeachement proceeding can be started internally or externally. Internally by a resolution either from the Executive or Legislative Board of the USC, alleging that an officer has committed any of the acts mentioned above. Externally, an ordinary student can file an impeachment case against a student council officer which must be endorsed by a majority of either Executive or Legislative Board. (Sec. 5, Art. VII)

Both internal and externally initiated impeachments proceedings will continue if the resolution is approved by a majority of either the Executive o Legislative Board as the case may be.

Third, once the resolution is approved, it will then be filed to the Office of Student Services through the Student Development and Activities Office. (Sec. 6, Art. VII)

Fourth, both the Executive and Legislative Boards of the USC will then convene in a special joint session, to sit as the impeachment body that will deliberate on the impeachement case. Unless it is the USC President who is being impeached, he will preside over the impeachment deliberations. Whoever the presiding officer is, he/she will have no voting power. (Sec. 8, Art. VII)

To impeach an officer, a three-fourths (¾) vote of all the members present is required. (Sec. 8, Art. VII)

The OSS Dean, USC Adviser and SDAO director shall be present during deliberations but only to witness how it will go on. They cannot participate in the deliberations. (Sec. 8, Art. VII)

During the deliberations, it is required to strictly observe procedural and subtantive due process. Meaning the subject officer of the impeachment proceedings must be given the opportunity to be heard, examine the evidences against him, present evidence or witnesses for his defense, and cross-examine the witnesses against him. If he even so chooses, he can have a counsel present to defend himself. (Sec. 10, Art. VII)

The body has a maximum of thirty working days to resolve the impeachment case once it is filed to the SDAO. (Sec. 9, Art. VII)

Judgement in an impeachment case is limited only to the removal from office of the subject officer. (Sec. 11, Art. VII)

An officer removed from office through impeachment can file an appeal of the decision to the Magistrate as explained in Article XII.

Now that the impeachment process is clear, I would like to point out that this process is applicable only to the Officers of the USC Executive Board. In Article XIV of the 2008 USC Constitution, College Student Councils are not mandated to follow this procedure when it comes to impeaching one of their own officers. It is because College Student Councils have some distinct and separate attributes that are unique to them and the 2008 USC Constitution respects that.

However, it is wise and prudent that the impeachment process for USC EB Officers be used as a model and modified accordingly, to suit the unique attributes of each College Student Council.

Application in the College Student Council level

The impeachment process will follow essentially the same procedures. The only changes would to particpants in the process and the timing of their participation.

First, instead of the USC Executive and Legislative Board, it would be the College Student Council’s EB and LB who will approve any impeachment resolution by a majority vote of either body as the case may be.

Second, the approved resolution calling for the impeachment of an officer will then be filed with the College Dean’s Office, copies can also be furnished to the USC Executive Board and OSS/SDAO for information purposes.

Third, the CSC EB and LB will convene in a special joint session to deliberate on the impeachment case. The College Student Council President will be the presiding officer. Again, he/she will have no voting power when judgement time comes.

Fourth, the College Dean, OSS Dean or SDAO director and USC President can be invited only to witness the proceedings.

Fifth, as always, procedural and substantive due process must be strictly observed.

Sixth, three-fourths (¾) vote of all members present is an ideal number to impeach an officer and remove him/her from office. Of course, it can be up to the College Student Council to change that number of votes as they see fit.

Seventh, an impeached officer can file an appeal to the Magistrate since it was specially created for the said purpose.

At this point, I would include a couple or more pieces of advice to both the USC and CSC with regards to fine-tuning the Impeachement process.

An implementing rules of procedure for impeachment proceedings must be created so that the present and future student council officers will be properly guided. It will fill the gaps in the general provisions of the 2008 USC Constitution and avoid the abuse of the impeachment process and the miscarriage of justice.

A separate rules of procedure on impeachment deliberations or trial must also be created for same rationale and objectives mentioned above.

Impeachment proceedings may seem a difficult and complicated exercise, but it is a necessary and vital tool in disciplining student council officers in a fair, democratic and just manner.

Can USC/CSC Officers become officers of other student organizations?

Students' Week Opening 2007Student-leaders in De La Salle University – Dasmarinas are amongst the most dedicated, committed and tireless bunch you can find. In practice and most often than not, student council officers are also officers in other student organizations within the university. Others still are also active in civic organizations off-campus.

They juggle academics, extra-curricular activities and their personal lives which gives them the experience of how to become responsible, resourceful and creative. However, just like young adults still growing up, their boundless enthusiasm and eagerness to become involved gets out of control and pretty soon one or more of their obligations becomes neglected. Much to the detriment of the organization, its members and the student-leader himself.

Worse, academic performance suffers to the point that student-leaders lose sight that the reason they entered the university is to earn a degree. Becoming involved in student activities are just secondary, the add-ons that give spice and color to college life.

Just like any other university, DLSU-D has seen its fair share of student-leaders taking on too much tasks and responsibilities than they can handle. This was one of the problems the members of the 2007 Students’ Constitutional Convention sought to remedy when they inserted a provision that expressly forbids incumbent University and College Student Council officers from becoming officers in other student organizations.

Section 4, d of Article VII of the 2008 Constitution of the University Student Council describes it as the holding of an incompatible office:

holding incompatible office. Holding any executive position in other student groups shall be deemed incompatible.

The 2008 USC Constitution does not only forbid holding an incompatible office, it also names it as one of the grounds for impeaching a USC/CSC officer!

So an officer has two choices; first, if he or she is already an officer of a student organization upon taking office as an officer of the USC or CSC is to resign the previous position and focus on being a student council officer. Second, if he or she so chooses for whatever reasons, is to resign immediately his or her position as a student council officer in order to remain an officer of a student organization.

It’s one or the other, never both at the same time. Just as one cannot serve two masters at the same time. Some would argue they could, but the 2008 USC Constitution would not allow it. Serving on the student council is a noble and higher calling which rightfully deserves a student-leader’s full attention.

Pagsasara ng Kursong AB Community Development: Labag sa Vision-Mission ng Pamantasang De La Salle Dasmariñas

Nakatanggap ako ng balita na sa susunod na taon, ay posibleng isara ang kursong AB Community Development sa Pamantasang De La Salle Dasmariñas. Hindi ko alam ang buong detalye o dahilan sa panukalang ito. Sana ay maging bukas at tapat ng pamunuan ng pamantasan at ng Kolehiyo ng Malalayang Sining tungkol sa bagay na ito.

Sa aking limitadong kaalaman at karanasan tungkol sa bagay na ito, ang naiisip kong dahilan ng pagsasara ng kursong AB Comm Dev ay ang kakaunting dami ng mga estudyanteng kumukuha ng kursong ito. Maraming dahilan kung bakit ganito ang nangyayari, ngunit paniwala ko na mababaw ang dahilang ito upang isara ang isang kurso o programang napakahalaga ang maiaambag sa pagunlad ng mga komunidad sa paligid ng pamantasan at ng bansa.

Higit rito, napakahalaga ang kursong ito upang mapaunlad ang mga mag-aaral na papasok at kukuha ng kursong ito. Saksi ako mismo sa katotohanang ito.

Sa ilang taon na ako ay naging SERVE Volunteer, isa sa mga pinakamatagal nang organisasyon ng mga Lasalyanong boluntir sa pamantasan, hindi nawala ang mga estudyanteng kumukuha ng AB Comm Dev sa organisasyong ito. Mayaman at mahalaga ang kanilang mga naging ambag at patuloy pang iniaambag sa tagumpay ng mga programa at pagkilos ng SERVE at ng Sentro sa Pagpapaunlad ng Pamayanang Lasalyano o Lasallian Community Development Center tungo sa paglilinkod sa mga komunidad sa paligid ng pamantasan at pagsusulong ng pagbabago ng lipunan.

Hindi lamang SERVE ang natulungan ng mga estudyanteng kabilang sa programang AB Comm Dev. Ang Student’s Commission on Elections noong panahong tinatawag pa itong University Student Commission on Elections ay matagal nang nabibigyang buhay at nagsasagawa ng mga matagumpay ng halalan para sa Pamantasang Konseho ng mga Mag-aaral o University Student Council sapagkat bulto ng mga miyembro nito ay nagmula sa AB Comm Dev.

Ilan din sa mga natatanging Alumni ng Pamantasang De La Salle Dasmariñas ay nagmula sa AB Comm Dev, si Joymay Amihan ng Class of 2007 ay nagsilbi bilang Pangulo ng Pamantasang Konseho ng mga Mag-aaral o University Student Council noong 2007-2008 ay kasalukuyang Program Coordinator ng Programang Pangkomunidad sa Manila Doctors’ Hospital. Sina Remina Plomos at Rafael Gregorio, ng Class of 2010 ay kasalukuyang ganap na Lasalyanong Boluntir sa ilalim ng Lasallian Volunteer Program ng De La Salle Philippines. Sila ay naninilbihan bilang mga boluntir sa Bagac, Bataan at sa Iligan City, Lanao del Norte. Ang iba pang Alumni na nagtapos ng AB Comm Dev ay kabilang sa iba’t-ibang mga NGO, nakikibahagi sa kanilang mga pagkilos tungo sa pagbabago ng lipunan sa kabila ng madami pang ibang pagkakataon na makakuha ng mas malaking hanapbuhay.

Ang punto ng mga ehemplong ito ay pagpapakita na sa lahat ng mga iba pang kurso o programang inaalok ng Pamantasang De La Salle Dasmariñas sa mga estudyante, ang AB Community Development ang direktang tumutugon at gumaganap sa amon sa ating lahat na isulong at isabuhay ang Lasalyanong Misyon. Ito mismo ay nakasaad sa Vision-Mission ng ating mahal na pamantasang Lasalyano:

Vision

De La Salle University-Dasmariñas is a Filipino Catholic University established and managed by the De La Salle Brothers and their lay partners in the historic province of Cavite in response to the needs of the Church and the Nation for human and Christian education, particularly the youth at risk. Guided by the Lasallian values of Faith, Zeal and Communion, the University participates meaningfully in the process of social transformation by forming God-centered, people-oriented, and patriotic persons who serve as responsible and professionally competent stewards of God’s creation.

Mission

To realize this vision, the University shall strive to become a leading institution nationally and globally in the integral formation of the youth by offering relevant, responsive, and community-oriented academic programs, research and extension services, and promoting a keen sense of history, arts and culture. Following the footsteps of Saint John Baptist De La Salle, the University shall continue transforming itself into a caring community guided by Gospel values, with a fervent spirit of service, love for learning and excellence through a holistic formation of its members.

Samakatuwid, ang pagsasara ng kursong AB Community Development ay tuwirang paglabag sa Vision-Mission ng Pamantasang De La Salle Dasmariñas at katumbas ng pag-abandona sa Lasalyanong Misyon. Matibay ang aking paniwala, na mismong si San Juan Bautista De La Salle ay hindi matutuwa sa bagay na ito.

Malinaw na kung may mga suliraning kinakaharap ang Pamantasan at ang Kolehiyo ng Malalayang Sining sa tungkol sa kursong AB Community Development, ang pagsasara nito ay hindi at maling solusyon. Katumbas nito ay pagsuko sa isang hamon, at sa aking natatandaan, tayong mga Lasalyano ay hindi sumusuko, lalo’t higit nakasalalay sa paglutas ng suliraning ito ang kaganapan at pagsasakatuparan ng Lasalyanong Misyon.

Dalangin ko, na sa sama-samang pagkilos, bukas at tapat na pagtutulungan ng mga estudyante, alumni, mga guro at pamunuan ng Kolehiyo ng Malalayang Sining at ng Pamantasan, maululutas din ang mga suliraning ito.

Updated Guide to the 2008 USC Constitution

While discussing about the revisions to the Student Handbook of DLSUD with the Dean of Student Services, we cannot help but talk about the 2008 USC Constitution and we always end up with one conclusion: student-leaders need more time to study, understand and implement the provisions of the said constitution.

This is timely because a new set of USC officers have just started their official term and are well in the middle of preparing for their plans and programs for the new school year. They have a clear mandate of implementing the 2008 USC Constitution and so it is essential that they understand its provisions.

To help them and every other student-leader and even ordinary students of DLSU-D in understanding the 2008 USC Constitution, I have decided to update the “layman’s guide” I wrote back in 2008. We used this in promoting for the new USC Constitution in the run-up to the plebiscite for its ratification. Now I publish its updated version to continue the effort of evangelizing the student-leaders and students of DLSUD about the 2008 USC Constitution. (If you don’t have Flash or it is disabled, you can click on the link to read it on Scribd.)

Guide to New 2008 USC Constitution

Hopefully, with this new guide publicly available on the web, many more student-leaders and students would be familiar with the 2008 USC Constitution and help each other in implementing its noble provisions, because after all, the document was created for their benefit.

If you have questions or comments about the guide and the 2008 USC Constitution itself, please don’t hesitate in raising them in the comments section below or you can contact me should you feel for a more private conversation.