Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) will not be able to field any candidates in the 2018 General Elections (GE) after their request to extend the deadline of their prospective candidates’ Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) was denied by the DLSU Commission on Elections (COMELEC) through an official statement last July 6.
Tapat claimed to have had difficulty in processing the additional documents needed for submission, namely the Certificate of Verification (C-02), and the Certificate of Good Moral Character (CGMC). Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon), on the other hand, was successful in submitting the required documents.
In the statement, COMELEC detailed the timeline of events, citing that the abrupt request of Tapat and the need for COMELEC to reach a quorum to discuss the said matter led to the decision. Tapat and COMELEC, together with Santugon, convened to discuss the motion to reconsider the adjustment of the set timeline to compensate for the delay in Tapat’s processing.
Addressing the concern of this year’s GE not being impartial, COMELEC assures the student body that GE 2018 would “not be biased in any way.” COMELEC, as represented by Chairperson Nicole Leon, cites Article V Section 1 of the Election Code, where item number 11 states that “If there is only one candidate running for a certain position, he/she should get at least 50 percent plus 1 of all votes cast.”
“The power to elect these candidates are still with the student body since conditions for these candidates to be elected are different than when there are two or more parties running,” COMELEC clarifies.
Unfolding of events
Stated in the released COMELEC statement both political parties signed the required Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) which stated that Santugon and Tapat prepare their lineups for the upcoming General Elections (GE). It also included the schedule for ling of COCs, which was from 9am of July 3 to 6pmof July 5. COMELEC reported that Tapat appealed for an extension of the passing of COCs two minutes before the said deadline, but the commission was prompted to reject the proposal due to the commission failing to reach quorum on short notice.
An appeal from Tapat to amend the signed MOA was also countered by the need for COMELEC to reach quorum before facilitating the matter. To reach quorum, at least two-thirds of the COMELEC Board should be present. Santugon, with the Office of Student LIFE Director Sofronio Lingatong, Jr. as witness, were able to formally discuss the appeal with Tapat and COMELEC in the USG Session Hall. Leon read the commission’s judgment on the said requests in front of the executive boards of the said parties when the decision was made final.
However, Tapat continued to lobby for their appeals, which in no way affected the decision made by the COMELEC.
An issue of communication
According to Tapat Vice President for External A airs Valerie Pagdagdagan, their party was already informed about the changes in requirements during the previous term, but the final form of the additional requirements was only given last July 2. However, she clarifes that the late notice of such requirement was not the major cause of their party’s delay in ling. Tapat attributes their failure to field candidates for this year’s GE to the lack of communication within their party. Pagdagdagan further adds that their problems were “organizational and operational in nature.”
In light of the recent incident, Pagdagdagan defends their supposed candidates, and reassures that despite their party’s failure to field their candidates, “all of them are capable and competent.”
“The moment a candidate lacks one of these factors, the choice will not be as optimal as how we [would] want it to be. At the end of the day, whoever the party fields [will] reflect our identity; if it’s too far off, we [would] rather not,” quotes Pagdagdagan.
Rebuilding the organization
Following COMELEC’s judgement to deny all appeals by Tapat, the party admits that they had no other choice but to respect the decision. “We are in the process of assessing what went wrong and what we need to do so we can establish a better system for the party and serve the University better,” Pagdagdagan expresses. Tapat will be focusing on rebuilding their organization following this incident.
The LaSallian was able to get a glimpse of the supposed candidates Tapat prepared for this year’s GE before the incident. Despite it being incomplete, Tapat expressed confidence in their could-be slate. In a previous statement relayed by Tapat, they stated that they “refuse to look at the USG as a career-building option, as if it were an internship program. It is a place that demands leadership, and among those qualified, only those with the will to lead deserve a place.”