UniversitySexual harassment manifesto delays, unfilled EDGE2018 seat tackled in LA session
Sexual harassment manifesto delays, unfilled EDGE2018 seat tackled in LA session
February 13, 2019
February 13, 2019

The Legislative Assembly (LA) mulled over another delay in the release of their manifesto on the recent sexual harassment issue during their session held last February 11, a week after its unanimous approval and a month after the issue was first published by The LaSallian.

The cause of the delay, the representatives claimed, was the lack of endorsement from the Office of Student Leadership Involvement, Formation and Empowerment (SLIFE). During last week’s session, CATCH2T19 representative Christian Alderite had originally stated that “[if] it takes them (SLIFE) too slowly to respond, we’ll just post it (the manifesto) anyway.”

Pursuant to that, the LA representatives present in the latest session agreed to publish the manifesto online, with or without the go-ahead from SLIFE.

Meanwhile, the LA has yet to fill the recently left vacant EDGE2018 Representative seat. Although garnering a vote of 13-3 in favor of Veeno Villavicencio, the assembly failed to reach the minimum required vote of two-thirds of all representatives.



Causes for more delays

According to Chief Legislator Stella Santos, the delay was caused by a communication problem between SLIFE Coordinator for Leadership Formation and Action John Lingatong and the assembly itself.

She bared that Lingatong was hesitant to approve the manifesto because the Committee on National Issues and Concerns (CONIC) might reprimand him, as his approval carried implicit approval from CONIC. When asked if CONIC left any comments on the statement to be issued, Santos stressed that SLIFE already blocked the manifesto from being raised to the committee in order to avoid drawing their ire.

From their view, the assembly felt that SLIFE was attempting to censor and control the statements of the LA by changing the content of the manifesto. An example cited was Lingatong’s suggestion to have the manifesto call out the erring professor, which the LA contested as being inconsistent with their goal. Naming the faculty involved would only put the students raising the issue in danger, they argued.

Nevertheless, because the LA representatives believed that publishing the manifesto can no longer be delayed, the members present in the session unanimously agreed to publish it online “as soon as possible”. The assembly reiterated its responsibility of being representatives of the student body without bending to the desires of the administration. In addition, the manifesto will not be altered to suit the needs of external parties, with the legislators reaffirming the need to maintain integrity.

“I don’t think it will be right to release a manifesto [that is] completely edited,” Santos stated. “What the LA approved is what we will be posting.”



EDGE 2018’s vacant seat

In the LA session last February 4, Sam Narbuada, the former EDGE2018 LA Representative, resigned from her post due to her family’s immediate migration to Canada. The sudden need for action caused complications with her position, hence the search for an immediate successor. Despite Narbuada’s absence, FAST2018 representative Krisvin Briones read aloud the recommendation for Villavicencio on her behalf.

“Veeno is a hard-working and intelligent student. He is someone who is grounded with strong principles. He’s very outspoken regarding his advocacies; he is supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and is against inequality and discrimination. I firmly believe that he will be an excellent addition to the Legislative Assembly [and that] he is more than qualified [for the role],” Narbuada elaborated in her recommendation.

Villavicencio presented to the LA his plans should he be appointed to the role, among them were to continue the initiatives of his predecessor and to promote cultural awareness and inclusion. He, however, admitted that he has yet to formulate concrete plans to pursue his goals.



Points for question

Despite voting majority in favor of the appointment, legislators gave those who were not in favor the freedom to explain and defend their assertions. Of those who voted against, they agreed that Villavicencio’s lack of presence and knowledge about being an LA representative took away his chances of earning the position.

Jaime Pastor of CATCH2021 brought to attention the vague plans of the candidate when asked about his goals. “I think that [he] should be a little more specific [with] regard to his plans because, well, the ideas are great in general, [but] I want to see a vision in mind because even when we have a term and a half [left] as LAs now, we only have so little time to pass our resolutions and research [on these] so that we can be of good quality for the University,” Pastor explained.

However, the other legislators who voted in favor of Villavicencio’s appointment defended the candidates lukewarm performance during the session, arguing that going through the process of being an LA representative can be nerve-wracking. Bella Villar of BLAZE2020 added that newly appointed representatives can better learn about their position through the exam and through acquired experience.

“There are appointed officials before him who also had no credentials and no background of being an LA, and I think they should [still] be given the opportunity to be appointed…That’s when you learn about being an LA because we have the LA exam [and] we learn through the LA manual,” Villar further explained.

Unfortunately, the minimum vote needed for his appointment was not met due to the limited number of representatives present during the session. The resolution was thus left open until further notice.