Students took to the Facebook group DLSU Profs to Pick (Official) to express their sentiments on the University Student Government (USG) General Elections this year. Several issues were brought to light as screenshots of exclusive group chats and allegations of corruption surfaced online during the campaign period. Both political parties Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) and Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) were subjected to criticism online.
One of the first issues that rose was that of Santugon alumni core members who had been in an elevator with Isabelle Ferido. Ferido, whose best friend was a graduate of the Science, Technology and Medicine Summer Program at the Stanford Anesthesia Summer Institute, was reportedly called “mayabang” by members of Santugon. According to Ferido, the said members have approached her and apologized after the post gained much traction in the Facebook group.
Things then took an extreme turn a couple of days later, when more allegations cropped up, with students bringing up accusations of corruption (an amount of P200,000 reportedly pocketed by an elected officer fielded by Santugon) and screenshots of Santugon members allegedly plotting against candidates of Tapat, among others.
Tapat was also put under scrutiny as its stand on several pertinent University policies was questioned, as well as the issue arising of one of its alleged core members plotting to spy on Santugon candidates.
Santugon accused of corruption, rumor-spreading
In its statement released on July 17, Santugon responded to the corruption allegations, claiming that “all efforts and avenues were exhausted to search for evidence… but no direct evidence surfaced.”
EJ Labios, running for College Assembly President (CAP) in the College of Science for Santugon, was involved in a controversy which started from a screenshot of a group chat entitled “The Black Parade”, with members of Santugon part of the chat. In the screenshot, Labios was seen saying “SEX NGA”, while another member by the name of Riche replied with “Tirahin niyo si JP [Sarmiento] with that.”
Labios, in a comment reply to the original post (now deleted) clarified that he meant Sinangag Express, a local food joint near DLSU commonly referred by patrons to as SEx, because he was being asked where he was at the time. In the same statement released on July 17, Santugon echoed Labios’ sentiments but did not shed light on the remark on JP Sarmiento, who is running as Batch Vice President for FOCUS2015 under Tapat.
Another issue hit Santugon as screenshots of a group chat from Telegram, a popular messaging app, surfaced online. In the group chat “GE FEEDBACK”, Steven Whang and Kaye Baguilod of the School of Economics (SOE) were shown talking to each other. Whang appeared to be urging members of the chat to spread rumors about Seanne Esguerra, Tapat’s candidate for CAP in SOE. Specifically, Whang suggested spreading that Esguerra has nude photos, or alternatively that she is transgender.
Whang, like Labios, issued his own statement as a comment to the post on Profs to Pick. “I deeply apologize for the comments that I made which do not represent what I was taught by the party that fielded me,” said Whang. Santugon pointed out that Baguilod, SOE College General, immediately reprimanded Whang after his remarks.
The most recent scandal involved a video uploaded by Santugon, with the purpose of supposedly detailing the achievements brought about by the officers elected under their party in the past year. The video mentioned several projects and events, but came under fire as several called out its striking resemblance to an iPhone 7 commercial released in 2016.
Furthermore, several students complained that the projects in the video were not Santugon initiatives to begin with, with representatives from both Tapat and the Lasallian Scholars Society (LSS) claiming that specific events mentioned in the video, including the Martial Law Commemoration, Marcos Burial Protest, and Scholars Week 2.0, were not Santugon products at all.
Santugon President Abe Lozada addressed the critcisms in a statement, saying that “the video was not meant to grab credit from anyone nor to solely claim ownership of projects and programs,” despite no mention of either Tapat or LSS in the video. “Undoubtedly, Santugon leaders were enablers for all the projects and we stand by the important role they played. We apologize if this seemed like a one sided effort,” the statement concludes. As of press time, the video has been taken down.
Tapat called for copying of plans, spying
Meanwhile, Tapat was not spared from criticism online as students hit them with their controversial stand on several policies in the University, such as the policies on the failure due to absences, dress code, and Latin honors.
Former College of Liberal Arts (CLA) CAP Angelo Tiglao, who ran under Santugon, also criticized Tapat’s candidates running for CLA for supposedly copying former Santugon initiatives and including it in their General Plans of Action, specifically citing the Liberal Arts Summit and Liberal Arts Network, among other projects, as ideas generated by Santugon.
A former Tapat core member, Clyde Palattao, was also brought into the picture as a screenshot of him reportedly telling another person to undergo spying on Santugon made rounds online. Palattao and Tapat clarified later on that he was sanctioned by the party. It was revealed that the conversation occurred last year in June. Palattao, who was Tapat’s Governor for the College of Computer Studies then, was removed from his position following the incident, according to Tapat’s statement released on July 16.
All of these gave rise to the proliferation of memes (information usually packaged into satirical or comedic image macros) online. The posts also drew flak as anti-Semitic memes were also posted online, most of them deviating from the actual issues at hand. Most of the posts have since been deleted although screenshots still circulate online.
Both Santugon and Tapat have released their own statements, although much of the damage has been done as many have begun to speculate another failure of elections, with calls of voting abstain online.
Results of the elections remain to be seen, with the campaign period set to end tomorrow, July 18, at 1 pm. The voter turnout must reach the quota of 50 percent+1 of the student population to prevent another failure of elections.
This post was last updated on July 18 at 9 am to reflect new developments, and later on July 19 to correct typographical errors.