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Comelec machines, USG budget discussed in LA session

The University Student Government (USG) Legislative Assembly convened for a regular session last Friday, February 5, at A1506. Resolutions calling for the release of a position paper on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Vote Count Machine (VCM), and the approval of the allocation of the USG budget for academic year 2016-2017 were discussed.

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The position paper in line with the Comelec’s VCM comes after the demonstration of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines held last January 25. The PCOS machines are updated with four security features, such as an ultraviolet lamp, a source code review, digital signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors, and the Voter Verification Paper Ballot Trail (VVPAT). The activation of the VVPAT, which will enable the printing of receipts of a person’s votes, is still under deliberation.

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Several Lasallians were invited to attend Comelec’s demonstration of the vote counting machines last January 25 at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center.
For this reason, the Comelec requested several parties, DLSU included, to release position papers on the said feature. Natasha Athab, chairperson of the LA National Affairs Committee, relayed the position paper of DLSU, through Boto Lasalyano, Sulong Pilipino, to the assembly. According to the position paper, while the VVPAT will ensure transparency and accuracy, it can be used for vote buying and vote selling.

Both Majority Floor Leader Jorge Francisco and Minority Floor Leader Kevin Tan argued that more information about the VVPAT feature should be made available before the LA can approve the resolution calling for the release of the position paper. The resolution was laid on the table.

A second resolution calling for the approval of the USG budget allocation for next academic year was deliberated on the floor. USG Executive Treasurer Zed Laqui and Office of the Executive Treasurer (OTREAS) officers Tristan Felipe and Patricia Sario were invited to the floor to discuss the breakdown of the budget.

According to Laqui, the budget was conceived through consultations made with every branch of the student government. In contrast to last year’s budget, which was used throughout the entire year, next academic year’s targeted budget will only be used for the remaining two terms of USG officers. It was also reported that roughly P140,000 of the operational fund from last year was taken back by the administration because the amount remained unused by the end of the year.

P567,400 is the allocated budget for the USG, which has been the same amount for the past five years, according to Laqui. Of that amount, P154,513.33 will go to the Executive Board. Meanwhile, the Student Government Assistance Fund (SGAF) will be allocated P140,466.67 for its starting capital. The SGAF account of the USG is used to provide financial assistance and loans to different students in the University.

P126,420 will be allocated for the college governments. A price ceiling of P24,000 will be administered to large colleges such as the College of Liberal Arts, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, and Gokongwei College of Engineering.

P55,000 will go to the departments under the Activities Assembly, the Judiciary, the Commission on Elections, the Commission on Audit, and the Legislative Assembly.

Additionally, P5,000 will be allocated to the Science and Technology Complex Government (STCG) to promote STC integration. In the past years, no allocation had been given to the STCG.

With 21 voting for, 0 against, and 0 abstentions, the resolution on the budget was passed.

By Althea Gonzales

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