DLSU’s Committee on National Issues and Concerns (CoNIC) was established by the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA) to advocate themes, issues and concerns raised by the various sectors of the University. During the initial implementation of CoNIC, COSCA served as its secretariat and was eventually relocated to the Office of the President, specifically under the Institutional Research, Planning and Advocacy (IRPA) Office.
USG President Migi Moreno notes that rather than functioning as an organizing body in charge of logistics, CoNIC is more of a coordinating body that would spearhead and push for programs advocating the national issues and concerns raised.
CoNIC back to COSCA?
COSCA Sectoral and Multisectoral Advocacy Engagement Coordinator Arnel Galgo denied rumors of CoNIC being made a COSCA prerogative, and said there were no actual plans of CoNIC moving back to COSCA, primarily since there were no initiatives done in the first place. Moreover, Galgo notes that the relationship of CoNIC to COSCA does not flow from the assumption that it will be mobilizing back to COSCA.
On the other hand, Galgo says that the mobilization was supposedly the agenda, but this did not push through. There was an impression that CoNIC previously responded faster to the issues raised when COSCA served as its secretariat. By the time it was relocated to the IRPA, CoNIC’s presence had not been “felt” much. As such, the mobilization would be beneficial for CoNIC, but Galgo says it would be impossible to do so.
“Impossible kasi [under the] office of the president siya [CoNIC]. Parang alter ego siya ng presidente in terms of national issues; way, way beyond COSCA and CoNIC. COSCA is just a unit of the University. In terms of issue, higher yung CoNIC sa COSCA,” Galgo explains.
He adds that CoNIC was driven to become more visible during the event of the Voter’s Educational Campaign, which sought to heighten the Lasallian community’s interest on electoral issues and awareness of political personalities and agenda. At that time, COSCA was still the secretariat of CoNIC.
Other challenges faced
CoNIC is believed to have limited personnel, thereby making it difficult to convene several sectors of the University. “In terms of really maximizing the committee, hindi siya masyadong maximized. So that’s one aspect we have to look into, because perhaps the workload is too much also for that specific office [IRPA],” Moreno says.
According to Moreno, USG has not convened with CoNIC as much as they should have. Given several national issues and concerns that need to be discussed, Moreno says that the University needs to be more engaged and involved among these external affairs.
In terms of reaching out and unifying smaller organizations with the committee, POLISCY President Romeo Lanzarrote says that CoNIC needs to reach out more. Considering that CoNIC is an institutional unit, it should possess the mechanism on reaching out in behalf of the organizations. “If they’re really for national issues and concerns [and if they want] to unify or propose awareness; they should do their part in reaching out to these smaller organizations,” Lanzarrote explains.
Lanzarrote also recalls a previous conflict in CoNIC in terms of organizing the speakers for the forum on ‘Bantay PDAF’ held last September 25. It turned out successful and POLISCY was able to establish a partnership with CoNIC in the project. However, Lanzarrote notes that considering CoNIC was designed to advocate social awareness in the University, the committee could have taken the initiative of coordinating with POLISCY in organizing the speakers.
USG and CoNIC have not planned collaborated and concrete activities. However, Moreno says that the USG is currently coordinating with COSCA in forming outreach activities for Child-friendly Spaces, a program promoting the security and safety of children in line with the UN Millenium Development Goals. As such, it would be ideal for CoNIC to mobilize back to COSCA, since COSCA falls under the office of the Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission, wherein most student events and initiatives take place.
Lanzarrote states that the University should be the central authority that has a collective and controlling mechanism for both CoNIC and COSCA.
Moreno adds that getting CoNIC to be more felt, involved and active in the Lasallian community will be another aspect on how it can actually strive; only by then CoNIC would be sufficiently recognized as the backbone of issue advocacy in the University.