The University Student Government (USG) Legislative Assembly (LA) held a session yesterday, October 8, in order to discuss matters regarding the appointment of Paolo Delos Reyes as the LA Representative for CATCH2020 since the former representative, Richard Ingles, is now unaffiliated with the University; the passing of resolutions to address the sign language scandal of Mocha Uson and Drew Olivar, and the arrest of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV; and other matters including a proposal on an LA inquiry of the Judiciary branch of the USG.
LA representative appointment
In view of the permanent absence of Ingles from the University, the LA decided to appoint Delos Reyes as the LA Representative for CATCH2T20. Upon the resignation of Ingles, fellow LA representatives have sought a replacement since the start of the term. Given that Ingles received a seat in the LA during the 2018 General Elections, the new representative will serve for the whole academic year.
During the session, the LA further deliberated on the appointed LA Representative, discussing his capacity and willingness to serve in the USG. Delos Reyes stated his firm belief that he can contribute to the student body through his role in the USG. He cited one of his current involvements, a project called DLSU Online Paperless Processing System—wherein offices can pass documents online in an effort to reduce the waste of paper and opt for a more efficient system—as an example of his initiative to serve.
Delos Reyes also requested to be part of the Students’ Rights and Welfare Committee with the goal of expressing the sentiments of students. One complaint that he articulated was the loose screws attached to the chairs used in some classrooms, which can either rip the clothing of students, or in some instances, break into the skin and possibly cause damage.
All LA Representatives present voted in agreement of appointing Delos Reyes as the new LA Representative for CATCH2T20.
Reassessment of open letters
Two resolutions to release open letters were also tackled. The first open letter addressing the viral incident involving Uson and Olivar was laid on the table in the LA’s previous session due to the body’s failure to agree on its content. Because of this, the assembly moved to reopen the motion.
Proponents CATCH2T19 LA Representative Christian Alderite and FOCUS2017 LA Representative Marco Zulaybar defended the structure of the open letter, after it was called out by Minority Floor Leader and 70th ENG LA Representative Nina Lagera for having only one paragraph citing the stances and opinions of the LA. The letter in question contained a total of three paragraphs, with the other two presenting only facts and figures on the matter. Lagera contested that the said letter was supposed to “hold the government accountable” and should contain such statement.
Lagera’s statement was supported by Majority Floor Leader and 71st ENG LA Representative Stella Santos who stated that the content of the letter did not “attack” anyone. “[It] just merely states that if we’re talking politics here, decency should be requested,” Santos explained.
Despite two objections and two abstentions from the body, the resolution was passed in favor of Alderite and Zulaybar.
Another resolution from Alderite and co-author and EXCEL2019 LA Representative Karl Leyco was an open letter regarding Trillanes’ case. Like the first letter, similar issues and concerns were raised on the letter’s structure, with Chief Legislator Norbs Sarigumba criticizing it for being “too much on [information] and facts.”
“We should assume that your readers can open articles and [already] learn about [these issues]. We should focus on our opinions and stances…it should be more coherent,” Sarigumba asserted.
Alderite himself later motioned for the resolution to be laid on the table after the deliberation with the assembly. This move was later called out by Sarigumba, who mentioned that such was the second instance for an open letter to be laid on the table. “When it comes to open letters and manifestos, you should prepare for it,” Sarigumba berated.
Proposing for an LA inquiry on the judiciary
LA Representative for FAST2017 Neal Gonzales raised to the floor the proposal for an LA inquiry on the Judiciary and its processes. He reiterated their role as legislators to perform checks and balances in the three branches of the USG. The objective stated by Gonzales was to determine which provisions need to be revised to improve the function of certain offices in the USG.
Lapses in the judicial process were raised by Gonzales. As an example, she stated that the rules of the court requires that each college should have their own magistrate. On the contrary, a resolution from P.L.A.R No. 2015-30 declared otherwise. Previous hearings and its accompanied released statements also had inconsistencies according to the legislator. In the case of former Arts College Government Student Services Chairperson Angeli Andan’s impeachment, the judiciary released a statement on the facts of trial, which stated that the proceedings were only a hearing, but despite this, they reached a verdict of impeachment.
Two magistrates have also recently resigned in the Judiciary because of internal matters. This pushed Gonzales for an LA inquiry and question all appointed magistrates. Lagera, however, said that the resigned magistrates should not be invited since they had stepped down due to personal matters. LA Rules and Policies Committee Chairperson Jess Magaoay stated that they should prioritize the incumbent magistrates.
Sarigumba said that the LA inquiry will be helpful for the upcoming plebiscite. He further argued that an alignment in the USG Constitution and Judiciary Constitution at the start of the term will help make the USG more efficient and effective. However, he also said that officers subject to the LA inquiry will not be charged if inconsistencies are proven. Instead, findings will only be publicized for transparency.
Majority of the floor were for the proposal, but a resolution will follow in the next LA session to further discuss on the matter.