After a two-week lull to give way for the General Elections (GE), the Legislative Assembly (LA) resumed session today, March 28, 2014. A total of seven resolutions were presented and discussed with six ultimately being approved, including one on the re-election of the FAST2011 LA Representative and another on the resignation of one of Judiciary’s magistrates, among others.
Frances Vista of FOCUS2011 opened the session by detailing the reasons for which a re-election of the FAST2011 LA Representative is needed, after the only candidate for the position lost in the recently concluded General Elections (GE) due to a larger number of voters abstaining. Vista argued that although majority of the students represented by FAST2011 are graduating students, they are still entitled to the same form of representation as members of the student body.
“Without re-election, FAST2011 and the other graduating students will be deprived of representation in the coming handbook revisions,” Vista added.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) was represented in the session by Aaron Quedilla, who assured that COMELEC had already secured the venue and necessary materials for the re-elections. It was pointed out that because this will be a special re-election, the election code will still hold but need not be as strictly followed.
The resolution was approved and the re-elections will take place on April 1-2, 2014, with campaign period to run from 7:00 am of March 29 to 6:00 pm of March 31. Candidates for re-election will not be allowed to conduct room-to-room campaigns on Monday to avoid disruption of classes.
The Pahiram Payong Program
The floor was reopened to discuss the institutionalization of Pahiram Payong, in anticipation of the need for the program at the onset of rainy season in AY 2014-2015. While there were doubts raised such as the amount of money that would be needed to acquire umbrellas for the program and the feasibility of maintaining the materials, the assembly eventually agreed that the program would greatly aid students when sudden downpours occur.
A lengthy discussion then ensued on whether Pahiram Payong was to be listed as a project of a specific office or of the shared Office of the Executive Board.
BLAZE2016’s Tristan Felipe argued, “We need to put this under the Office of the Executive Board, since alam naman natin na next year, they will be operating as one office, hindi separately.”
Minority floor leader Vani Altomonte, however, stated that while they would be operating collectively as one unit, tasks and responsibilities would still be delegated accordingly. “I think it’s a given already that OVPIA [Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs] is the one to handle this,” he said, “there won’t be a problem with who will implement and who will follow up since the office is really the one that handles student services. So it’s just a question of putting it on paper or not.”
The matter was settled by renaming the resolution to the “Institutionalization of Pahiram Payong by the Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs under the Office of the Executive Board” and the resolution was approved.
Approval of magistrate resignation
The assembly again reopened the floor to discuss whether or not the resignation of magistrate Mark Wong will be accepted, after he was unable to follow resignation procedures before participating in this year’s GE.
“I think there was miscommunication. I passed my resignation on Feb 27, before the campaign period and before the filing of COCs,” said Wong.
Patrick Kahn of CATCH2T17, together with the other LA representatives, questioned the timing of Wong’s resignation, telling that it the process could have been much more expedient if Wong had filed for resignation one or two weeks earlier, given that LA no longer held sessions the in the weeks following his filing.
Wong reasoned he had contemplated a resignation since second term due to a number of reasons, but did not push through with it until recently to fulfill obligations to the Judiciary. “I was contemplating resignation since second term, but I did not because I needed to fulfill my duties as magistrate.
“When you resign, a replacement officer needs to be appointed. Itong third term kasi, when I resigned, if you’re going to look for a replacement officer, medyo gipit sa oras and mahirap maghanap ng replacement since third term na,” he added.
Chief Legislator Wendy Penafiel reasoned that a resignation is due not only upon the decision to run but in affiliation with a political party as well. She added that participating in the training sessions, which begin at least a month before GE period, is counted as political party affiliation.
Penafiel furthered that Wong’s resignation which was supposedly approved by the Judiciary is not valid, given that the LA is the only body mandated to accept resignations of members of the Judiciary as they are all appointed officers.
Upon voting the matter, the floor was divided and the decision to approve the resolution was left to Penafiel. Penafiel voted for its approval and the resolution allowing Wong’s resignation was passed. The resolution allowed Wong to participate in elections in the future but disallows him from taking seat in the Judiciary.
Faculty evaluation and others
Jillian Gomez of EDGE2012 once again opened the floor to discuss revisions on the Institutionalization Process Manual, which was raised back in the first term of the academic year. There was minimal discussion on the floor given and the resolution was approved.
Another resolution which called for clarification of the hierarchy or laws and manuals in the University Student Government (USG) was presented by Vista, after pointing out possible overlaps and confusion as to which laws and manuals will first be referred to.
Penafiel listed the line of power to be the Philippine Constitution, the Student Handbook and USG Constitution which are equal in power, followed by the resolutions passed by the LA, then followed by the Judiciary, and, lastly, the rules of internal governments. The resolution was laid on the table for further revisions and discussion.
Trina Jimenez of BLAZE2013 then reopened the floor a sixth time and presented the resolution calling for improvements to the faculty evaluation system.
“All professors, regardless of their status, should be regularly evaluated. This is for the benefit of the students,” she said. “The students can actually approach their respective vice-deans but proper guidelines are not written down in any manual or document.”
The resolution proposed that all faculty members be subject to evaluation in any given term. Currently, full-time professors are subject to only one evaluation per year. Apart from this, the resolution proposes comprehensive education campaigns for the students to know the importance of faculty evaluations, which assessed by departments when re-hiring or renewing contracts.
It was raised, however, that the assembly would have to look into if there are student representatives in the Academic Committee, to which the resolution will be forwarded to ensure a follow-through. The resolution was approved and will thus be forwarded to the Academic Council and Dean of Student Affairs Fritzie de Vera, who will forward it to the Institutional Testing and Evaluation Office (ITEO) if approved by the Academic Council.
The final resolution which was presented was dedicated to the standard and formal circulation of updates in the USG. The resolution was subsequently approved by the assembly and the session was adjourned. The LA will hold their next and final session for this academic year next week, April 4, 2013.