There’s a very interesting news feature on the most recent edition of the Heraldo Filipino about the budgetary deficits incurred by the University Student Council (USC) and the various College Student Councils (CSCs), an issue that concerns every student of DLSUD and therefore one that all of us must talk about if we are to effectively address such issue.
However, I am very much curious as to what reasons the incumbent officers of the College of Business Administration Student Council had for not disclosing to the HF the financial statements of the previous set of officers. As can be seen from the handy-dandy graph in the article, all of the CSCs and the USC have come out clean with the budget deficits they have incurred since 2006 to 2009 except for the CBASC. Where’s the data from the CBASC? Does this mean that they have not incurred any deficit? Or is it the opposite? Until the CBASC makes public their past financial statements, we the students will never know for certain.
I ask these questions because we students are the ones who provide for the funds of our student councils with the belief and trust that such funds would be used for the general benefit of us, the students. Since their funds came from us, we have every right to know how those funds were used or spent.
The 2008 USC Constitution is crystal clear in guaranteeing our right to know how our student councils have spent our parents’ hard-earned money. In Article III, Section 5, it says that every student has:
“The right to infomation.
a. Every student has the right to information on matters of student
concerns which includes but not limited to: academic
records and evaluation. Access to other official records, acts,
transactions, decisions and fiscal matters, as well as data used
as basis for policy formulation shall not be impaired.” (Emphasis are mine)
Certainly, if the 2008 USC Constitution guarantees this right to every student of DLSUD, the members of the Heraldo Filipino who are also students themselves are guaranteed to enjoy the very same right. On top of this basic right to information, stands the right of the HF members as campus journalists to be part of a free press so that they could perform their sacred duty of informing the students about the news and information that matter to them.
Again, the 2008 USC Constitution upholds the right to press freedom and publication in Article III, Section 3 which reads:
b. “Student Publications shall have the right to express
responsibly their views and opinions without fear of
persecution from authorities, and without threat of
being in any way penalized or punished by authorities.
This includes the right against news blackouts.” (Italics supplied)
I believe that strong defenders of the freedom of the press could view the refusal of the CBASC to release the financial statements of the previous councils as a news blockout. Wouldn’t you agree?
However, there’s still hope in knowing the truth. The 2008 USC Constitution does not only guarantee the students’ right to information on matters that concerns them including fiscal matters and freedom of the press including protection against news blackouts, it jealously guards these rights by requiring the College Student Councils to make public or release information that pertains to their official acts and functions through a mechanism in which it commands the CSCs to do the following in Article VI, Section 8:
d. Submits a copy of monthly report to the University Student
Council which will include:
d.1 accomplishment reports
d.2 financial statements
Since the USC is accountable to the students, it has the obligation and duty as commanded to it by the 2008 USC Constitution to make such monthly reports of the CSCs available to any student or student organization if it so wishes including financial statements in particular, unless for valid reasons which up to now, the CBASC has given none.
The USC and the other CSCs must be applauded for making such information public which is well within the spirit of accountability, transparency and honesty. Values which we are now looking for not just in our student-leaders but the next leaders of our country.
Now why is such information so important? Simply because we are talking about the funds of the student councils which were just entrusted to them by us the students for our general benefit. Since most of our student councils are draining such funds by incurring budget deficits there’s a need to address this problem.
This problem is not just a problem for the student councils to solve alone, for we students in general have a part in it for we are the largest stakeholders in the use of such funds and thus we can work together to come up with solutions to fix this issue.
But how can we have a well-informed discussion and how can we come up with a solution to this issue if we are denied vital information about this problem? Alas, only the incumbent CBASC officers hold the answer to this many questions.