Former University Student Government (USG) Vice President for External Affairs Mae Mae Gonzales held a press conference earlier today to break her silence on the Judiciary’s ruling on the impeachment case against her on grounds of gross negligence of duty.
On November 4, the Judiciary had unanimously ruled Gonzales guilty of gross negligence of duty in a court hearing where she was not in attendance. However, in the court opinion released on November 8, the Judiciary explained “that there was no substantial evidence presented that would merit the impeachment or disbarment of Ms. Gonzales from office and that would raise the established gross negligence as severe.” Instead, she is sanctioned with addressing a public apology to petitioner Norben Sagun Jr. and the undergraduate student body.
Prior to the actual hearing, Gonzales had earlier sent a manifestation stating her non-recognition of the proceedings of the court. In her manifestation, she had argued that the Judiciary had a lack of jurisdiction since there are only two Magistrate positions occupied for this academic year. The USG Constitution states that the number of magistrates shall correspond to the number of colleges in the University. The Judiciary denied this motion in a resolution released on November 4.
In today’s press conference, she reiterated this argument once more. “I respect the court but I would also want it to follow what the constitution clearly states,” she expressed. “I do not undermine the capacity of these magistrates, but their procedures are not in compliance with the constitution.” She further argued that the Chief Magistrate position is currently vacant, and that in the event a split decision has to be made, there would be no deciding vote.
“My request was not for the delay of the hearing, but rather, for a fair trial,” Gonzales stated.
Gonzales also mentioned that she found the timing of the issue “suspicious and questionable.” The initial complaint against her was filed on October 13, the supposed second day of campaigning period for the USG Special Elections. At the time, Gonzales was running for the highest position in the USG.
“Just when I thought that the Special Elections would be about efforts to regain the trust of the students and share to them well thought of platforms, I was wrong,” she lamented. “It has been about well-orchestrated political moves.”
Despite the allegations pressed against her, Gonzales remains hopeful in the USG as an institution. She described, “I still believe in [the USG’s] purpose and its relevance to the student body. I hope that every one of you will continue to trust and believe.”
In her closing statements, Gonzales expressed, “I know that this time I could not ask for a fair trial in the USG anymore. Much worse, I could not ask for a chance to share my platform once again in a fair and clean election.”
“But then again, as a citizen of this country there’s something that I could seek, and that is justice,” she concluded.
A copy of Gonzales’ statement can be found here.