UniversityOVPEA head appointed, presidential pardon changes rejected in LA session
OVPEA head appointed, presidential pardon changes rejected in LA session
January 15, 2019
January 15, 2019

The Legislative Assembly (LA) held their first session of 2019 last January 14. With 21 representatives present, the session was presided by the new Chief Legislator, 71st ENG representative Stella Santos.

The agendas discussed by the LA were the appointments for the Vice President for External Affairs and Batch Vice President for FAST2015, an open letter regarding the recent data breach with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), amendments to presidential pardon guidelines, and vacancy concerns in the Science and Technology Campus Government (STCG).



New appointments

The session opened with a resolution calling for the appointment of new University Student Government (USG) officers, starting with the appointment of Belle Ledesma as the new batch vice president for FAST2015. The position had been left vacant with the resignation of Shanta Carlos on the 26th of November 2018. FAST2017 Batch Representative Neal Gonzales vouched for Ledesma, citing her experience in various student organizations and initiatives, as well as her good academic standing. Ledesma expressed her plans to establish workshops and programs that would help ease the transition to work environments for her remaining batchmates. Ledesma was appointed with all 21 representatives voting in favor.

The assembly then deliberated on the appointment of a new external affairs executive. USG President Gabbie Perez appeared in person to vouch for Adrian Asoy before the assembly, highlighting his good academic standing and co-curricular involvement. Asoy had previously worked with the external affairs office prior to his nomination.

The appointee explained that he will restart the environmental programs previously conceptualized by the office, as well as encourage a stronger stance on national issues among Lasallians. He also unveiled his plan to revamp Boto Lasalyano, Sulong Pilipino for the 2019 midterm elections.

Despite being a volunteer for senatorial candidate Chel Diokno’s campaign trail, Asoy nevertheless assured the assembly that he will maintain the political neutrality of the office. He added that he wants to regain student trust in his office and the USG as a whole, as well as improve restrained relations with the Office of the Vice President for External Relations and Internationalization (OVPERI). The office, left leaderless with the impeachment of Angeli Andan over negligence charges, welcomed Asoy as its new head with all 21 representatives voting in favor.



Data breach issues

The recent passport data breach at the DFA attracted the attention of the LA, opening up the third agenda to an open letter addressed to the DFA. In the draft letter, Geo Olaivar, STCG LA Representative, condemned the breach as a violation of the Data Privacy Act and condemned the lack of urgency expressed by the DFA toward the issue.

While deliberating the content of the open letter, Christian Alderite, CATCH2T19 LA Representative, raised concerns that the manifesto has not yet been reviewed by the University’s Center for Social Concern and Action and Committee on National Issues and Concerns as is standard procedure, elaborating, “They connect to us (LA) to fact check our message as well as to properly check that it’s properly backed with research and data.” Olaivar countered by questioning on what basis is the USG required to submit manifestos for review by the University administration, advocating for the USG’s autonomy. With technical concerns mounting, the assembly voted to lay the resolution on the table.



Presidential pardon, STCG concerns

The fourth agenda discussed by the LA concerned the amendment of the presidential pardon guidelines. Olaivar, accompanied by CATCH2T20 LA Representative Paolo Delos Reyes, advocated for clearer terms on what they noted as “vague guidelines”. The proponents argued that the terms of the presidential pardon could allow a previously impeached official to run again for an elected USG position. “We want to set an example here in the University. Let’s say you’re impeached on fair grounds. We want to make sure that you are impeached for good and we want to set [an] example that this is your punishment,” Delos Reyes said.

FAST2016 LA representative Frances Hernandez countered against the proponents, noting that since the USG’s constitution is based on Philippine laws, the Revised Penal Code allows for an impeached official to run again for public office if the presidential pardon expressly allows the offender to do so. Hernandez noted the case of impeached former President Joseph Estrada who ran and won as Manila mayor.

Gonzales suggested calling for periodic inquiries on impeached USG officials who are theoretically re-elected and as an alternative way of checks and balances, as well as reviewing the powers of the Judiciary Department. Despite a 15-minute recess, the assembly remained in hot debate regarding the agenda with the proponents reiterating their stand in maintaining good governance within the USG. “Kasi gusto namin makita talaga na kaya tayo elected kasi gusto natin ipakita na kaya natin ipaglaban yung mga karapatan nila,” Olaivar declared.

(Because we want [everyone] to see that we are elected because we want them to know that we can fight for their rights.)

Hernandez remained absolute on her stand, defending the conditional presidential pardon. The resolution was defeated with only three representatives voting in favor of the resolution, and 18 abstaining, including Hernandez, with none expressly against.

Fifth agenda discussed by the assembly was a call for the campus president of STCG to uphold the remaining vacant positions in their student government, as plenty of the those have not been filled due to the campus’ small population. The resolution was quickly passed with all 21 LA representatives in favor and none against.

The assembly finally discussed other matters. Among the topics discussed were examinations for the new LA representatives, and reminders for technical dutes. Elections for floor leaders were also conducted with Miko Co, EXCEL2020 LA representative elected majority floor leader and Jaime Pastor, CATCH2T21 LA representative as minority floor leader.