The Legislative Assembly (LA) convened for its weekly session today, February 21, to reopen the discussion regarding the amendments to the University Student Government (USG) Constitution. Today’s session revolved solely on clarifying the power, duties, and responsibilities of the top three officials of the Executive Board (EB), namely the President, Vice President for Internal Affairs, and the Vice President for External Affairs. Today’s session was initially set for LAs to cast their votes on the constitution, however this did not push through because a quorum was not met.
Micah Fernando of EXCEL2015 opened the session by explaining that the minority floor and the proponents have concluded that following the abolition of the Executive Vice President (EVP, which was an amendment introduced in the 2014 USG Constitution), the position’s functions will be restored as a responsibility of the Vice President for Internal Affairs. In addition, a new section will be added to Article VI: The Executive Branch. Under Section 11, the Vice President for External Affairs will be reintroduced in the Constitution.
“With this current constitution, both the Vice Presidents for Internal and External Affairs will have a role, which is to assume presidency whenever the President is incapacitated to lead,” Fernando furthered.
With Fernando’s statement, the floor went into a lengthy discourse on whether the VP Internals or VP Externals will assume presidency first, or the primary replacement officer in the event that the President will be unable to hold office. One perspective deliberated was that the VP Internals is more hands-on in the USG as compared the VP Externals, but that the latter has a higher responsibility because it bridges the administration and the student body.
However, Frances Vista of FOCUS2011 suggested that another resolution be made to specifically discuss the replacement of the President should the need arise. “Don’t put the replacement officer in the Constitution. Do a [different resolution], so it can be changed,” she stated, reasoning that if it were to be included in the amendments, the USG will be obligated to follow what the Constitution, if passed, mandates, until it will again be open for revisions after a three-year lock-in.
The exchange led the raising of more issues regarding ambiguities in the three officers’ roles. Vani Altomonte of FAST2010 reiterated that the VP Internals acts like the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) of the Philippine government as it is in charge of overlooking the units and their functions. Meanwhile, the VP Externals handles affairs which are external to the USG even if they are internal to the University, with the exception of institutionalized projects and other special projects. “We made sure that the President has power over [the two of them]. He sets the vision,” Altomonte ended.
Tristan Felipe of BLAZE2016 clarified that in terms of programs, the VP Internals, who retains the duties of the EVP, remains responsible for the USG and projects internal to it, while the VP Externals is tasked with handling program-related affairs of the USG in relation to administrative offices and other student sectors. The question of who will be co-chairing the Executive Departments (EXEDEP), originally a function of the EVP, was also raised. It was later agreed upon that both the VP Internals and VP Externals will be engaged in the EXEDEP.
After discussions regarding the two VPs were settled, the floor went on to discuss briefly the roles of the President, who primarily represents the USG in multisectoral committees as well as in affairs outside of DLSU, in addition to overseeing all happenings within the USG. The minority floor also suggested that the President shall appoint a representative of the student body to different multisectoral committees. Fernando added that, as such, the President is mandated to appoint representatives in the Council of University Representatives or CURE.
“We accept that the Constitution to be used next year is still the 2009 Constitution. However, we are going to insert some concepts that are present in our proposed Constitution,” Fernando asserted, recapping the whole session.
In summary, the “wherefore” clauses to be added to the resolution calling for the amendments to the USG Constitution are the following:
- The transitory commission will be created and convened on upon the approval of the resolution
- The Executive Board members forming the Executive Board will operate under only one office
- The Batch Student Government Executive Board shall coordinate with its College Student Government
- The Department for Activity Approval and Monitoring will be separated from the Executive Branch
- The manner of voting for the Constitution will be by rolecall
- All branches of the USG shall endeavor to work for the plebiscite to be held for the amendments to the Constitution