Every school year, University Student Government (USG) officers are elected to serve the Lasallian community. Student leaders have come and gone through the halls of DLSU and have left a mark with unforgettable projects and undisputable contributions to the progeny of the student body.
However, in the design of the USG system, it may have been that for every ten exceptional leaders, there may be one or two delinquent officers who tend to neglect their duties. This is where the USG’s Judiciary branch comes into play. Since 2010, the branch has been monitoring the elected officers of DLSU, ensuring that the student leaders perform as expected of them.
Chief Magistrate Miguel Adriano and Acting Ombudsman Daniel Ang lead the USG’s Judiciary, fighting for the students and upholding the laws of the University.
“When [students have problems] with the student government and when the student government officers overstep their boundaries, we are there to mediate solutions and to see that justice is being done,” said Adriano.
The department also interprets, advises, and gives recommendations and opinions asked by USG officers to handle conflicts and questions about laws in the USG Constitution.
Filing the cases
All the complaints that are filed to the Judiciary go directly and exclusively to the Ombudsman, who then files cases, processes and applies the law to presented evidence, finds the most effective manner of handling cases, and brings such to hearings.
An Ombudsman cannot be a prosecutor and a member of the defense counsel because it would entail unjust advantage, Adriano states.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) handles violations commonly committed during the University’s General Elections (GE). Some of these violations that often result in a candidate’s disqualification are electioneering, where candidates campaign outside of the campaign period, and USG officers’ involvement in partisanship.
“[They] are supposed to be [unbiased.] Unfortunately, some people still hold loyalty to their political parties and they tend to support them through posting or liking pictures on Facebook or wearing party colors during the election period,” says Ang.
Adriano adds that elected officers who already hold their positions should no longer be involved in campaigns. More complaints are usually filed during the period. “People really try to find fault in [others] and they try to file as many complaints as possible. There’s a lot of politics involved in these complaints as well,” claims Ang.
Impeaching USG officers
Student government officers who are accused of practicing corruption or violating stated laws in the USG Constitution undergo trial and investigation, and if found guilty would be impeached.
Ang reports that some students withdraw their filed complaints against USG officers to prevent possible conflicts. Under given circumstances, the Judiciary branch pursues the case.
There is an average of one impeachment per school year, but no formal complaints have been filed for AY 2012-2013.
“We are currently investigating two USG officers from the Executive Board (EB) for negligence cases, [which] is one of the most common cases filed against officers,” says Adriano. Ang adds that committees under certain departments of the USG, despite not being directly involved, are still held liable for unfulfilled projects.
Adriano claims that more coordination with the COMELEC has been present in light of DLSU’s upcoming GE, where more cases and rumors about USG candidates are heard or are brought to light.
The Judiciary was recently decentralized and made more efficient by adding committees and creating more positions in the branch’s officers and among members.
Furthermore, the branch is promoting transparency among its different sub-departments, consisting of the Chief Magistrates per college, COMELEC and Commission on Audit for all members to easily contact and establish closer ties with one another, especially in times of conflict among students.