Last November 24, Tagisan: USG Freshman Elections Debate was held at the Waldo Perfecto Seminar Room, co-organized by the DLSU Commission on Elections (COMELEC), Ang Pahayagang Plaridel, and the DLSU Debate Society. Batch government candidates from Alyansang Tapat sa Lasalista (Tapat) and Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) were present for the event.
Santugon’s Ronin Leviste won the first round of the debate and was likewise the best speaker for the event. Mark Balaoing and Alex Muñoz, both Tapat candidates, won the second and third rounds of the debate, respectively.
Mikaela Zulueta, Cristine Camina, and Eman Kazemi from the Debate Society, as well as John Eric Voo and Sean Gabriel Pobre from the Judiciary were the respective adjudicators for the said event.
Leviste wins first round
The contenders were each given three minutes to explain their stance on an issue about leadership or governance. Afterwards, they were given two minutes to respond to a general follow-up question by the panelists themselves. They were also given a minute for rebuttal, should the opposing candidate feel the need to ask more questions with regards to the statements said.
Legislative Assembly (LA) Representative candidates Amiel Siasoyco from Tapat and Leviste from Santugon faced each other in the first round.
When asked on whether leadership should be about prioritizing what’s best for most or about catering for the minority, Leviste said that in every situation, there are winners and losers. “However, it is very important to acknowledge this because we need to know that there will be people who will benefit in every situation and then at the same time, there will be people who will be harmed in the decisions we make. What I’d like to propose is being able to create a holistic decision, to listen to each and every voice involved,” he shares.
Leviste also adds that true leadership is being able to create compromises for all, since he claims that each voice has the same value. “True leadership is about proper representation of what the voices want. We have to understand the reality and the nature of the kind of government that we are in, and the nature of democracy is being able to balance the interest of the majority but the same time being able to respect and protect the rights of the minority,” he asserts.
On the other hand, Siasoyco responded with a different perspective. He shared that leadership is not limited to a group of people, since it is not mutually exclusive. “Conflict is inevitable but is always resolvable. There will be always a common ground in between differences of both sides. When you find that common ground, you are able to cater to both the minority and the majority.”
He voiced out that he wants to enable the people to grow collaboratively. “When a leader makes both sides work together, a leader will be able to build a nation that is sustainable, and we believe that each one of us has the power to build the nation.”
Tapat prevails in final two rounds
Vice Presidential candidates Trevor Lallave of Santugon and Balaoing of Tapat faced off during the second round. The two candidates talked about their plans to serve the student body should they fail to get elected for their deemed positions.
Balaoing shared that his commitment to serve remains the same with or without the elections. “Instead of waiting for the opportunities to come, I [will] decide to take the initiative to look for these opportunities.” Conveying that regardless of the election results, “service is not about winning, winning only gives the opportunity of execution. With or without winning this title, I could still take the lead.”
On the other hand, Lallave responds that he will continue doing what he has been doing ever since the start of his journey. “There are a lot of opportunities out there given to each and every batch mate of ours, and I [want to] be the bridge for these different people to join these activities,” he shares. Lallave also mentioned that he wants to be consultative. “I could voice them to the elected themselves, and it doesn’t really matter if I win or not.”
Given their statements, one of the adjudicators asked of the inherent value, or the main point of electing them in the first place, provided that they claim winning is not important. Lallave went straight to the point and claimed the value of family. He shared that being part of the USG helped him grow as an individual, and failing to win in the elections will only be a part of his progressive experience. Meanwhile, Balaoing asserted that he wants to get a wide platform of opportunities where he can harness the capabilities of promoting for his batchmates. “We aim to make our batch more united through our collaborative growth,” he adds.
Ina Mulingbayan, an LA representative candidate from Santugon, and Muñoz, a Presidential candidate from Tapat, went head to head in the last round. Both of the competitors were asked on how they could make their positions more relevant to the lives of their batchmates.
Muñoz stated that she will help her fellow batchmates to be part of the said projects and will ensure that each student will actually care about the job of the USG. “We [want to] help [them] find a place in a project.” she shared.
Mulingbayan, on the other hand, expressed that as a future elected LA representative, she plans to not just be the voice of her batchmates inside the University but in the outside world as well. She also asserts that she wants to make sure that her fellow batchmates feel like they are connected to each other.