Compiled by Patrick Ong and Michelle Sta Romana
It’s a first for DLSU’s General Election results – Independent candidate Jose Miguel “Migi” Moreno has won the University Student Government (USG) Presidential seat, according to the DLSU Commission on Elections (COMELEC) earlier today.
As the University’s premier Independent presidential candidate, Moreno garnered widespread attention from students during campaign period last mid-March, which contributed to his eventual victory.
In an interview with The LaSallian, Moreno sheds light on his experience running independently, then elaborates on his vision for the upcoming school year.
1. Did you honestly think that you could win the elections?
I honestly think that winning the elections was a long shot considering that I did not have any machinery that can compete with what both political parties have. However, I believe that being the underdog in the elections as an independent candidate allowed me to garner support from many students especially since the vision and platform I presented were what the students feel the USG needs. This indeed increased my chances of winning which I highly considered eventually.
2. What do you think contributed to your win?
It would have to be the support of the students who believed in me and in what I can offer through my vision and platform for the USG. My win can really be attributed to the students who stood by and joined me in standing up for the change that has to happen in the USG. I felt the immense support every time I was able to engage with them through my room-to-room campaigns and personal conversations.
3. What was the most memorable point of your campaign?
The most memorable point of my campaign would have to be when I was able to deliver my Miting de Avance speech. It was during that moment when I felt the pinnacle of support and respect from everyone because I found it fulfilling to see the people, especially those from the political parties, listen to me as I connect with them through my words. At that moment, I felt that I was already getting my message across.
4. How has the elections changed your view on student and government politics? (Please mention your study.)
The experience I had in this General Elections made me see that there is still hope for change, not only in the University, but also for the Philippines – though I know that the change needed to happen will not be easy to see. But when the students listened to what I had to say, and they responded through their votes, I continue to believe that we can make it happen. However, we can still see during the elections that student politics has the makings of becoming a reflection of Philippine politics which is one of the concerns we want to change as well. In future elections in DLSU, we will prepare earlier and better so we can really put things into order – lessening or even possibly eliminating the apparent occurrences of “electioneering” and “voter’s harassment” which have yet to be addressed.
Working on a thesis on political maturity for my psychology degree, I was able to see that DLSU students can exhibit their political maturity by being able to immerse themselves in the elections – whether by being aware, being interested, or being involved. Many students began realizing the importance and value of their participation in the elections, finding ways in being updated with the elections whether personally or via social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Many students shared their personal insights and sentiments about how politics has been done in the University which signified their interest in contributing their two cents worth on improving student politics in DLSU.
And lastly, many students voted in this elections (some were first time voters even if they were on their final year already) which paved the way to increase the voter turnout from the usual 50-60% average to an almost 70% voter turnout this General Elections. These indeed show that we can exercise our political maturity provided that we are given the right reasons to be aware, to be interested, and to be involved in the hopes of contributing to the significant and positive changes needed for student politics in DLSU.
5. You were asked by Santugon and Tapat to run for them? Sources say that you wanted the presidency or none at all. Why?
Yes, I was asked by both political parties to run wearing their color for certain positions in the USG. However, I really believe that with the kind of culture present, it will be very limiting to one’s leadership and that in joining either party will not enable me to introduce and make the change that I see is necessary. I do not deny the fact that I have visited some of their meetings. But it is for the reason that I still have hope in the parties that they can truly be the models for the right kind of politics in the University. I never said that I wanted the presidency or none at all.
However, I did believe that the presidency is the key position that one should have to properly implement the change necessary to a system which is tainted by political colors. Although I have not been that visible to the students as a USG officer, I believe I am more than ready to be the USG President and offer a brand of leadership that is new and is needed in the University.
6. What are some of the projects you would like to pursue next term?
More than labeling them as projects, I would like to call them as programs which connotes a more long-term and sustainable approach for the efforts and initiatives of USG. One of the main programs would be geared towards fixing the internal system and processes of the USG. This will enable the elected and appointed officers of the USG to work together towards the direction of refocusing on its role as representatives of the students. One concrete way of doing this is by actualizing the “USG Goes to You” initiative which entails regular meetings with every student organization and group in order to see where USG can be of more service to them. Another program would be the “Online University Planner” initiative which aims to provide the students a detailed interactive calendar of activities and programs, not just of the USG, but also of all the student organizations and groups. It will also include all the announcements from the administration and the different offices inside the University which will make the students aware of all the updates and events taking place in the University. This initiative can be integrated in the USG Website which will be regularly promoted and publicized to improve on the information dissemination efforts of the USG.
7. Given that you do not have any elected supporters, do you think this would present a problem in leadership of the USG? How do you plan to solve this?
I believe that as a leader, the challenge of leading a group will always be present, especially if the group is composed of people coming from different backgrounds. But in relation to USG and the incoming group of elected officers, we will be able to overcome our differences if we keep in mind that USG should operate beyond party colors. More so, it should be about representing the green and white, specifically all the students. However, it is imperative to draw a fine line between personal matters and professional work. This will eventually entail that all elected and appointed officers must engage with each other in a professional environment in order to effectively serve the students as their representatives.
8. There is talk that the USG needs restructuring, possibly a reversion back to the Student Council (SC) system. What are some of the USG reforms that you would like to implement next year?
I firmly believe that the USG exists as the USG for a reason. And in the past three years of its existence, we have not fully seen the USG functioning as it was originally intended by Saint Anthony Tiu, SC President during AY 2003-2004 and the one who conceptualized the USG. So reverting back to the SC system would disregard the initial and previous efforts in realizing and actualizing the true purpose and essence of the USG. In this regard, some of the reforms I hope to implement are the restructuring of the roles of the executive branch in terms of the programs it should be focusing on and the strengthening of the judiciary branch in terms of effectively and efficiently protecting and safeguarding the rights and welfare of the students especially regarding grievance cases and unjust offenses given.
9. Next year will be another transition year for the DLSU and STC merger. How will you ensure that STC would receive the same amount of USG presence we have in the University? What are some of the initiatives you plan to head to ensure a smooth transition?
The DLSU and STC merger is going to be a challenge for next academic year, not only for the USG, but also for the entire University as we continue moving towards the transition into full integration. In terms of the USG’s presence in STC, it is imperative to maximize the presence of the USG-STG (Science and Technology Government) headed by its campus president-elect Nikka Ramos. The Executive Board will closely coordinate with the elected officers in STC via online communication and regular visits, especially during programs and projects organized by the STG and other student organizations and groups in STC. The USG will also initiate a regular shuttle service scheme where students from both campuses can visit one another’s campus and participate in the activities and programs in the said campus.
10. What are some of the challenges the USG will face next year and how will you address them?
The USG will definitely face a year filled with so much challenges and expectations next year. With the many issues and concerns that need to be addressed, it will be difficult for the USG to come up with all the answers alone. This is the reason why the USG needs to refocus on its roles that it has to assume by realizing and recognizing its strengths and capabilities. Acknowledging the extent of what the USG can do, this will usher in the need for the USG to closely coordinate and work with other student organizations and groups as well as the different sectors in the University in order to come up with collective actions and measures to address not only the challenges of the USG but more importantly, the challenges of the University.