In a preliminary hearing held yesterday evening, the University Student Government (USG) Judiciary found merit in the charges pressed against outgoing EXCEL2015 Batch President Zed Laqui on the grounds of gross negligence of duty. In last week’s pre-hearing, the court also ruled that the complaints filed against incumbent Vice President for External Affairs Mae Mae Gonzales and incumbent Executive Treasurer Rupert Laurel also had merit on the grounds of gross negligence of duty.
On October 20, undergraduate student Norben Sagun Jr. filed a complaint against Laqui on grounds of gross negligence of duty and illegal disbursement of funds for the latter’s participation in the Lasallian Exchange Scholarship Grant (LESG) program as a contact person.
The LESG is a project of the Office of the Vice President for External Affairs (OVPEA) and the Office of the Executive Treasurer (OTREAS), with Gonzales and Laurel serving as project heads. Sagun was announced as the first place winner of the project in March this year.
The complaint was appended to Sagun’s earlier version of his Comprehensive Complaint Letter, which was originally filed to the Judiciary a week prior, last October 13. Sagun defended that his complaint against Laqui was not simultaneously processed with that against Gonzales and Laurel because he was not immediately made aware of Laqui’s position in the batch government. According to the USG Constitution, only elected officers may be impeached.
On Sagun’s account
Sagun argued that Laqui, as a contact person for LESG, was appointed as a mediator between the OVPEA and OTREAS. As such, Sagun reasoned that Laqui should have had full awareness of what was happening between the said offices in relation to LESG.
In his complaint letter, Sagun mentioned that he chanced upon Laqui in September to ask about his grant, where Laqui was able to explain that P45,000 was being processed, P15,000 of which would go towards Sagun in fulfillment of his remaining grant. Furthermore, Sagun recounted that Laqui said that the other P15,000 would go to another LESG winner and the remaining P15,000 for Boto Lasalyano, Sulong Pilipino (BLSP).
However, Sagun disclosed that when he checked the Electronic Financial Record Books of OTREAS, no withdrawals were made amounting to P45,000. It was later found out by Sagun that the same amount was instead withdrawn from the OVPEA depository funds through a cash advance, for purposes of funding BLSP iRehistro and not LESG.
On filing the impeachment case against Laqui, Sagun highlighted Article 12 Section 5.4 of the USG Constitution, which states that the batch president must enforce all programs of the Executive Board (EB) upon the approval of the Executive Committee, and Section 5.8, which rules that the batch president must “perform other functions as defined in the Rules of Internal Governance of the [batch student government] and as deemed necessary by the EB, College President and the Legislative Assembly.”
In Laqui’s defense
According to Laqui, Laurel merely asked him to be the contact person of the LESG, due in large part to the former being the chairperson for Lasallian Scholar Program (LSP), an institutionalized project also dealing with granting scholarships to students. However, as Laqui had defended, LESG and LSP are completely separate from each other.
Upon the request of the Magistrates for clarification, Laqui further differentiated LESG from the LSP, stating that the former is a project to allot cash for exchange programs of grantees, while the latter had a system that directly deducted an amount from the tuition.
Laqui reasoned that his primary duties as a contact person were to relay information from his superiors to the applicants and answer inquiries about the LESG. He also argued that as a contact person, he was not in authority to disburse funds. In addition, Laqui further clarified that it was not his duty to contact the grantees after being announced as winners.
On the questionable P45,000, Laqui disclosed that the amount was not solely allocated for the LESG. However, it was revealed that during Laqui’s informal meeting with Sagun in September, the information regarding the breakdown he relayed was “unverified” and was only “inferred” from hearsay.
Laqui argued that the complaint against him was inadequate, and that the charges against him had nothing to do with his batch presidency and the EXCEL2015 batch.
The court found merit in the case against Laqui on grounds of gross negligence of duty. The complaint relating to illegal disbursement of funds has been dismissed.