Last November 18, representatives from the slates of Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) and Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) went head to head during Engkwentro 2016, a Freshman Elections (FE) Debate organized by the USG Judiciary, Ang Pahayagang Plaridel, DLSU Commission on Elections, and La Salle Debate Society.
Selected candidates were given the chance to voice out their opinions on matters concerning partisanship in student governance, participation in extracurricular activities, and active participation within the batch.
Since November 14, the Santugon and Tapat candidates running for Batch President, Vice President, and Legislative Assembly Representative have been campaigning online and room-to-room for the FE. The last day of the campaign period will be on November 21. Voting period will be from November 22 to 24.
During the first round of the debate, Legislative Assembly Representative candidates Lia Manalo (I, BSA) of Santugon and Kyle Santiago (I, BS-CS) of Tapat tackled the issue of elected officers claiming non-partisanship.
“People voted for our platform and our platform is partisan in nature,” Santiago argued, as he opposed the motion. He grounded his response on two points: that partisanship is non-contradictory to actions, and that it contributes to political maturity.
On the other hand, Manalo emphasized the need for a unified government through non-partisanship, both on the university and national level. “The people are fighting for their own vision and goal instead of working towards a better Philippines,” Manalo stressed.
Joining several student organizations
The second round of the debate was between Batch Vice President candidates Frances Hernandez (I, AB-OCM) of Santugon and Patrick Alegre (I, BSE-ENG) of Tapat. Both candidates took an affirmative stance on the motion: “Should freshmen be able to join as many organizations as they want on their first year?”
Hernandez cited her own experience of signing up for five different organizations. “[Joining orgs] is a chance to explore new possibilities, to be able to bring out the capabilities that you weren’t able to bring out back in high school,” she adds.
Alegre viewed the motion differently, choosing to emphasize the need to learn beyond the classroom through involvement in different organizations. He later stated that joining multiple organizations allows one to develop discipline in terms of prioritizing tasks, manage time wisely, and maximizing opportunities.
Reaching out to the students
The final round of the debate came down to the Batch President candidates Marga dela Cruz (I, EED-ECE) of Santugon and Paolo delos Reyes (I, BS-CS) of Tapat. Each representative was asked how they planned to make their batchmates play an active role.
Both candidates highlighted the influence that a leader can have on others. Dela Cruz focused on leadership by example, saying, “[Leaders] need to embody the values that we are trying to instill in the people who look up to us.” For her, having active leaders who do what they say is the key to increasing involvement among students.
In contrast, Delos Reyes saw leaders as those with the power to create opportunities for members of the community. “We want the students to know, to understand that their major role here is really crucial because [they] make the University [and] build the future,” he affirmed.
In the end, Santiago, Hernandez, and Dela Cruz won their respective rounds as determined by adjudicators Katherine Albert, Zeke Lim, and Francine Chan of the La Salle Debate Society, and Isabel Doctolero and Frances Lim from the USG Judiciary. Despite the relatively low turnout of freshmen at the event, members of both parties remain positive that students will still be aware of what happened at the debate.
An open forum was scheduled to occur on the same day but was cancelled to give way to the noise barrage and protest against the sudden burial of former President and dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.