Judiciary denies petition, lifts T.R.O. on plebiscite

After much deliberation, the University Student Government (USG) Judiciary branch dismissed the petition filed against the USG plebiscite in a pre-hearing held last November 10 at the USG Conference Room. The decision was immediately followed by the lifting of the Temporary Restraining Order (T.R.O.) imposed on the said plebiscite.

In their final verdict, the magistrates argued that the petition questioned the constitutionality of the plebiscite, but the arguments presented by the petitioners during the pre-hearing did not substantially cover the issue.image

Setting things straight

During the trial, the petitioners argued that the plebiscite was unconstitutional on the grounds that the revisions made in the USG constitution were largely done last year. The freshmen Legislative Assembly members this year were not given sufficient time to participate in the creation of amendments.

The petitioners also pointed out the allegedly poor information dissemination campaign conducted by the USG, which gave insufficient time for the student body to analyze the amendments made. Lastly, they also claimed that the amendments made in the constitution were not done through proper consultation with the student body.

They cited that the Convention of Leaders (CoLE), which serves as an avenue to discuss constitutional amendments, was not utilized for its actual purpose and instead were used for ‘parlor games’.

In defense of the recent plebiscite, respondent and Chief Legislator Patrick Kahn argued that the points made by the complainants were not on the constitutionality of the plebiscite as they had previously claimed, but rather on the political nature of how the preparations were carried out, which are only relative to the matter at hand.

He disputed the claim that the freshmen were not properly represented during the revisions, and explained that a special time period was allocated for them to pass amendments pertaining to the new constitution.

Furthermore, Kahn clarified that the USG has made their best efforts in formulating the educational materials for the campaign, as well as conducting the information dissemination more than a week prior to the first day of the plebiscite.

Back to work?

Since the Judiciary has lifted the T.R.O., the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) can continue with the plebiscite, but since the originally allotted time period for voting has already lapsed, the USG must begin formulating a new plan of action.
USG President Carlo Innocencio explained that though the Judiciary has allowed COMELEC to resume the plebiscite immediately, logistical limitations prevent them from carrying out the order.

“If we continue the plebiscite tomorrow, on Wednesday we will no longer have a venue, so there needs to be another schedule,” he said.
Innocencio also shared that they will begin discussions with the administration to give special considerations for the plebiscite. This is in lieu of the fact that the activity ban will take effect on the first week of December, and that the scheduled Lasallian Mission Week would also create conflicts. Nonetheless, he stressed that the plebiscite will push through this second term as originally planned.

Frank Santiago

By Frank Santiago

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