In the nature of politics and partisanship, a number of people imprint their identity on the general public, signifying their association with a political party, or the lack thereof. For some individuals, there is a desire to take on a new path to realign with their current beliefs, or rather, to sever ties.
For this year’s General Elections (GE), The LaSallian takes a look into these individuals, who either transitioned to nonpartisanship, or who switched from one party to another.
To and from the gray area
Coming into the new academic year, the Freshman Elections (FE) of AY 2015-2016 welcomed a candidate unfamiliar to the crowd of yellow and orange. Zam Doctolero (III, BS-MS ChE) emerged as the sole independent candidate, who at the time ran for Batch Representative of 70th Eng.
Unaware of the existence of political parties in the University, Doctolero explains that this was the deciding factor for him to run independently back in 2015. According to him, his decision was met with shock from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). “Nung time na yun, I wasn’t fully aware that there were political parties, so I just submitted my application forms to the COMELEC,” he explains.
The former independent candidate now associates himself with Alyansang Tapat sa Lasalista (Tapat), having run under their banner on his second and third try at getting elected. “They had really good advocacies, and they really inspired their members to be part of the change they want to see sa school, and outside sa school,” expresses Doctolero.
He explains as well that one of the main reasons for his “changing” was because of the struggles of running alone. “I realized mahirap talaga siya gawin all on your own, tapos I had academics pa on my part,” he elaborates. His other reason was he realized that he needed training on how to campaign in general.
From being partisan, USG President Mikee De Vega is known to have separated from her political party in last year’s GE campaign. Formerly from Tapat, De Vega shares that she initially identified with them as her beliefs aligned with that of the party’s. “I felt that I was more leftist-libertarian at heart, and Tapat in my first year really represented that,” she adds.
Following recent trends, De Vega is the third USG president who ran independently and won since 2013 USG President Migi Moreno and 2015 USG President Pram Menghrajani.
Highlighting the contributing individuals of political parties as well, Madison*, who ran for Tapat in the previous GE, shares her conversion to becoming a Santugon constituent. “I’ve always wanted to be part of [Santugon], so I don’t think I could call it a change of heart,” she clarifies. According to her, the goal of her transition was to “be where she truly knew she belonged to.”
On the other hand, Nuki Tan (IV, BS LGL) who now heads the political party Tapat, reveals in an interview with The LaSallian that he initially trained under Santugon. “When I was [a] frosh, Santugon recruited me to join, and they trained me, taught me their principles, and [I] became well acquainted with the people,” Tan confides. The incumbent Tapat president, however, further clarifies that his affiliation with the party only lasted until the end of his first year in the University.
Having been asked whether he regrets transferring political parties, Tan asserts that the move “was one of the best decisions he made in his college life.”
“I’m sure if I stayed with the other party, I’d be given opportunities as well, but I was really more passionate about Tapat,” he concludes.
Overcoming the rift
Despite not being met with hostility, these student leaders share that they had indeed encountered struggles after they transferred camps.
For Madison, the reaction from her previous political party was not what she had expected. According to her, she expected better circumstances and thought that her former colleagues would show support for her decision because of the relationships they had built together. She instead got judgment. “Although the number of bad reactions will certainly outweigh the good ones, you just have to hold on to the fact that there will still be people who will respect and support your decision,” the new Santugon member affirms.
In the case of De Vega, she feels judged by people who were unaware of what happened between her and her former party, citing that there were some who were “violently” against her decision to depart from Tapat. “The level of camaraderie formed by elections, babaguhin ka eh; like nag-blur na yung concept mo of loyalty to principle, and loyalty to people,”
De Vega elucidates.
De Vega clarifies, however, that despite the controversy, her departure from Tapat before elections was settled amicably.
Lasallians have the freedom whether to affiliate themselves with political parties like Santugon and Tapat, or to remain impartial; and despite the differences in beliefs and principles, the community displays a sense of respect towards politics, and individual identity.
*Name changed for anonymity