General Elections University

Direction? The problems of an aimless Presidency

Setting a direction is a difficult aspect of the presidency. As the USG’s Chief Executive Officer, the president sets the vision and the general direction upon which the other units will direct their programs and activities.


When Lorenz de Castro was President of the USG two years ago, his main vision was a student-centered USG, with activities mainly directed towards student activities that mobilized the Lasallian community. Most notable during his USG was the One Million Trees project, and other fundraising activities that ceded over their proceeds to the One La Salle Fund.


During the term of USG President Cabe Aquino last year, the main vision of the USG was to become One USG that operated under an Advocacy Calendar that planned and programmed all the events and activities according to an advocacy per month based on the UN Millennium Development Goals.


The motto this year was Lasallian citizenship. It is the primary platform upon which then, USG Presidential candidate Jana Cabuhat promised to provide her constituents.


Cabuhat had a vision that banked heavily on the education of Lasallians to the plight of the world outside, and sought to provide a bridge by directing the flow of USG programs and activities towards avenues for said education within the University.

She recalls that she used her platform of Lasallian Citizenship more than anything because she really wanted to focus on national issues this year, and how we’re going to get involved in our specific colleges and our specific batches.




Cabuhat’s direction for the USG, however, encountered troubles she had not foreseen when she first planned out her platform and the programs that would result from her strategic vision such as the physical unavailability of her Vice Presidents.


“During the first part of the first term, there was a lot of miscommunication between me and the EB because first term was the term that I was always gone, and so was Sasa [Hermoso], so it was a really difficult first term,” she laments. “During the second term, Robert was gone and so was Janine, so definitely communication was a challenge within our USG.”


Cabuhat furthers that nothing can be done because the constitution does not give the president direct jurisdiction over anything. She adds that it is all about representation, giving directions without any real first steps as opposed to the Vice President of Internal Affairs or External Affairs or Office of the Secretary or Office of the Treasurer that have specific tasks. She concludes, “The President really just oversees everything, especially if everyone has their own independent vision.”


The problem of coordination is the prevalent obstacle that hampers a USG’s overall effectiveness in that certain redundancies occur in terms of activity coordination. For instance, an October 2010 article from The LaSallian cites that during de Castro’s term, a lot of fundraising activities focused on shirt sales without diversifying the kinds of student activities available. Conversely, during Aquino’s time, a December 2011 article from The LaSallian examined that sometimes, the advocacy-based activities, due to their volume, were unable to secure large audiences for VIP guests who conducted lectures and delivered talks.


Cabuhat shares, “There are times during the year when I just feel exasperated on setting the direction for the whole USG,” citing that particular bodies in the USG were stubborn in following the strategic vision that she set at the start of the year. She affirms that she sent all offices a letter stating clearly her framework and vision to establish Lasallian Citizenship as the anchor vision for the year.


Challenging visions


The candidates for President this year are also preparing strategic visions with which they plan to bind the USG that they will be chiefly overseeing.


Incumbent Vice President for Internal Affairs and presidential candidate for Santugon Robert Hechanova describes his vision of ‘Everyday Lasallian Heroes’ as the driving force for the USG. Everyday Lasallian Heroes, as Hechanova describes, highlights the individual accomplishments of normal Lasallian students, done in the spirit of faith, service, and communion with St. Jean Baptiste de La Salle.


He shares, “I just really want to focus on sharing the vision intently on the EB once we get elected with due respect to the other party because eventually, we will all need to work together in achieving our mission in the long run.” Hechanova’s vision also entails closer coordination with the administration in implementing the vision.

He adds, “It’s very important to engage people and to have them join activities to provide many opportunities that will focus on their development, given the opportunity to practice the heroism in them.”


Incumbent College Assembly President of the School of Economics and presidential candidate for Tapat Kaila Astorga, on the other hand, deviates from Hechanova’s focus and hones in on an identity of excellence as the key for next year.


She furthers, “Like the way we see things and the way we see how we’re supposed to be running things, and fully grounding ourselves on our main focus and function which is representation, acknowledging that as students, we have rights and welfare not only for ourselves, but to make sure that we have responsibilities as Cabe Aquino’s term was defined in terms of pushing for advocacies and activities that students can get engaged in, the identity of excellence through making sure that we are grounded in our rights and welfare.”


Asked how she would react if she worked with people who had a different vision for the USG, Astorga affirms that it is imperative that they be persuaded of the vision.

She furthers, “It would be a matter of me allowing people to understand why this is the vision we are going to push for. As a leader, it’s not about compromising what I believe in because it makes things more difficult. It’s a bigger challenge, yes and I’d be up against bigger battles should we not be favored by making sure we have a Straight slate, but if push comes to shove it would be about me making sure that people would understand how crucial it is that this is something we all believe in and we all fight for. “


Independent candidate Migi Moreno looks at the situation differently. He says, “The first set of USG officers (which I was a part of) unfortunately failed to set that much needed direction, which is the reason why the USG has lost sight on where it should really focus on.”


Moreno’s main vision is refocusing the USG to remember its priorities and re-examine the functionality of the system, and ensure closer coordination between the USG and all of its stakeholders.


From the past USGs, he noticed a lack of a real grasp of what it means to have a student government. He explains, “From the start, we focused too much on activities, and failed to see our greater role as representatives and policy-makers. It was as if the [Student Council] before simply changed its name to USG. Though there have been efforts last year and even this year to try to assume USG’s true nature, I believe that the efforts allotted for this goal have not been enough.”




Juan Batalla

By Juan Batalla

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