Objections to the planned revisions to the University Student Government (USG) Constitution highlighted the open forum of the Convention of Leaders (CoLE) held last December 5 at the Waldo Perfecto Seminar Room. Most of the discussion revolved around the concerns of the USG and the proposed amendments to the USG Constitution regarding its structure and efficiency.
The Convention of Leaders is a summit mandated by the USG Constitution, to be held every term for various student leaders from the different sectors of the student body to convene and raise various issues from their sectors, with the purpose of advising the USG President on the affairs which concern the student body.
According to Art. XXII Sec. 3, the CoLE also serves a venue for feedback on projects, programs and actions being undertaken by the USG, as well as providing an assessment from different student leaders to recommend necessary steps to further attain the objectives of the USG. USG leaders may also use the CoLE to disseminate information directly from the USG’s Executive Board to the student leaders and their constituents.
The Convention started with an inspirational message from Arnel Galgo, Advocacy Coordinator of the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA), asking students: “Where does your deepest desire reside?”
Galgo went on to speak on how easy it was for student leaders to become jaded, saying, “Nakakatakot na makalyo ka at ang kalooban mo sa loob. Lagi na lang ‘yan, wala nang mababago…ang tunay na kabutihang loob, hindi nasasaturate, nanggagaling siya sa tunay na bangon ng paglilingkod [It’s frightening for your good will to be jaded. It always happens, and it’s natural… true good will is never saturated, it always comes with one’s naturally rising to the call of service].”
Galgo also asked student leaders to recall the Lasallian Guiding Principles, which answered the question of “Who is the Lasallian?” Galgo affirmed that the LGPs – Spirit of Faith, Zeal for Service and Communion in Mission – are enough to “erase the divide [between] political parties, agendas, objectives, even egos.”
USG President Migi Moreno then began the formal session by asking the student leaders about the choices they made – the choice to be Lasallian, the choice to excel and act for the community, the choice to dream for La Salle, and the choice to dream for the nation. He asked student leaders, “Do we simply accept and maintain the status quo when we know for a fact that we need to make a change, and that there should be that difference which should happen?”
Moreno’s reminder was followed by updates from the Legislative Assembly (LA) floor from Minority Floor Leader Vani Altomonte, who provided updates as the proxy for Chief Legislator Wendy Peñafiel who was unable to attend. Altomonte admitted that the processing of resolutions by the LA was delayed due to the LA’s present focus on the constitutional amendments concerning the structure of the USG. “We had resolutions planned but everything’s been pushed back,” he shared. “Right now, most of our energies are focused on the constitutional amendments.”
Chief Magistrate of the Judiciary presented after Altomonte the branch’s roster of magistrates, “finally a complete seven per college.” Serrano reported that the Judiciary had been engaging in training for its magistrates and student representatives and handling impeachment complaints through its Ombudsman, and that the judiciary was establishing more social media channels for communications with the student body.
Serrano also reported that the branch handled more than 20 grievance cases for the year. He also told the audience not to file grievance cases during finals week, and to file them during the term because it “piles up.”
The floor was opened for concerns from the other student leaders following Serrano’s report. Nathan Beltran, Convenor of the Harvard-based De La Salle project for Asian and International Relations administered under the Jesse M. Robredo Institute for Governance, and Political Science Society President Romeo Lanzarrote raised concerns about the constitutional amendments brought before the Legislative Assembly. Additionally, the two student leaders proposed alternative courses of action to make the USG more effective and efficient, particularly in terms of information dissemination. (See the complete statement on page 4)
The concerns raised by Beltran and Lanzarrote were answered and discussed in depth by the CoLE convenors after the session’s end as the time allotted for the forum was insufficient for other student leaders to bring up other agenda.
This is the first CoLE held during this Academic Year. Another CoLE is expected, as per USG Constitution, next term prior to the General Elections.