Controversies surrounding this year’s Special Elections (SE) were heightened with the emergence of posts and memes on Facebook pages such as the DLSU Community Forum, DLSU Freedom Wall, DLSU-Manila Secret Files, and other online platforms. One of the more prominent of these rumors is the allegation that University Student Government (USG) President Gabbie Perez granted pardon to former Arts College Government Student Services Chairperson Angeli Andan. In an interview with The LaSallian, Perez finally disclosed that no pardon was in fact given to Andan.
What happened before
Last August 29, Andan faced charges of gross negligence, incapacity to fully perform the duties of the office, and plurality of absence. Her colleagues who had previously worked with her under her office claimed that Andan did not deliver on the responsibilities her position entailed.
According to the complainants, during Andan’s stint in Student Services, she was allegedly unresponsive when attempts to reach her via messages were made, absent when meetings were held, and unclear when proper guidance was asked by her subordinates.
In her defense, Andan explained that she had tapped other officers to oversee processes in her absence, ensuring that their office would continue to function smoothly. Further, she argued that her other commitments required her to take on Leaves of Absence that hindered her from better coordinating with the concerned committees. However, she defended that once she had returned from her leave, she made her best efforts to be active in her office’s planned activities.
After the hearing, the Judiciary ruled that she was guilty of gross negligence, effectively removing her from the position. Because of this, Andan was barred from holding any future position in the USG, including her recent win as Vice President for External Affairs during the 2018 General Elections.
Context behind pardon
Perez explained that a pardon is a powerful tool vested upon the USG President. As stated in Article IX, Section 1.1.5 of the USG Constitution, a pardon can be granted by the President provided that the pardon is with just cause. The presidential pardon is irrevocable, final, and cannot be questioned. Perez described it as the “check and balance of the Executive to the Judicial side.” However, there are other kinds of pardons that can be used.
A conditional pardon imposes a condition to be fulfilled once the pardon has been granted or before it takes effect. This can mean the potential recipient of the pardon may have to release a public apology or statement through all USG units, campus media, and other platforms. On the other hand, an unconditional pardon means that the innocence of the offender is restored completely, as if there was never a case to begin with.
The President can only grant pardon to an offender that has already been deemed guilty by the Judiciary. If pardon is granted, the President will be held liable to any legal repercussions caused by the pardoned act of the offender. However, the offender may also choose to not accept the pardon.
On Andan’s case, OVPEA vacancy
Perez pointed out that presidential pardon is still an option. However, there is insufficient evidence at present to authorize Andan’s pardon. “It is about being fair, it’s about being true to the check and balance system of the USG. A pardon will be possible as long as there is enough evidence, and as the constitution states: there must be just cause,” she stressed.
In terms of addressing the allegations being thrown around online, Perez emphasized the importance of releasing statements through campus media rather than responding directly online since she believes that the latter would not help in addressing the issue. “I try as much as possible to keep things official. All communication mediums should be official,” she elaborated.
With regard to the current vacancy in the Executive Board, Perez clarified that she intends on filling the Vice President for External Affairs role through an appointment once the final results for the elections are out, given that no one had run for the position. As the USG President, Perez stressed that it is her responsibility to ensure that the USG units are complete.