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Candidates take the stage, highlight platforms in MDA 2019

Succeeding the atmosphere of the General Elections (GE) Debate, candidates for this year’s GE were given the opportunity to present their platforms and plans of action for the student body in the Miting De Avance held at the Corazon Aquino Democratic Space last July 20. Candidates from political parties Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) and Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) partook in the event as they fervently bared their hopes for the coming academic year.


Marga Dela Cruz (III, MKT), Santugon’s candidate for University Student Government (USG) President, expressed her wish to serve the Lasallian community by listening to the needs of the students and acknowledging the importance of student participation. She declared that students carry the potential to lead the University and that a true leader with a passion for serving can guide them toward fulfilling that movement. “Ang boses ko ay katumbas ng boses mo, at gusto namin marinig ang boses ng bawat Lasalyano,” she affirmed.

(My voice is your voice, and we want to hear what each Lasallian has to say.)

Lance Dela Cruz (III, AEF-BSA), meanwhile, stood before the student body as Tapat’s candidate for President and promised to uphold the voice of each organization, sector, and student in the University. He described his platform as one that represents all students, by offering everyone the right opportunities. He also emphasized how crucial a research-based approach is toward policy making. “No matter what your background is, you [should] have a fair shot in excelling in this University,” he said.

Vice President for Internal Affairs

Tapat’s Jolson Cruz (II, BSIT) recognized the importance of listening to the students. He discussed the issues regarding the University’s educational system, especially on the transition of Senior High School students to college, and seeks to address those concerns in order to help secure a brighter future for Lasallians. By doing so, he hoped that students will be able to make the most out of their degree programs. “We have listened and we will act. Together, we can build an education system that works for all,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Louise Zarcal (II, AB-OCM) from Santugon believed that the core of her leadership is the fact the she is a regular student who is immersed in the same environment as the rest of the student body. “This is a student empowered University—a University that puts power in your fingertips,” she emphasized. She vowed to revamp student services and facilities so that each student can maximize their experience in the University. Her planned projects included increasing student spaces, putting up satellite bookstores, and lobbying for the extension of the second floor of Gokongwei Hall.

Vice President for External Affairs

Ronin Leviste (II, DSM-MKT), who is running under Santugon, expressed what a leader with the said position should have: experience and a vision. He firmly believed that pushing for accessible external opportunities, progressive national engagement, and collaborative community development is of utmost priority to be implemented, giving the student body more opportunities to be involved in the development of both the University and the Philippines. “Responsibilidad natin bilang Lasalyano [ang] tumulong sa ating kapwa,” he exclaimed. 

(It is our responsibility as Lasallians to help others.)

Meanwhile, Tapat’s Joseph Vincent Fernandez (III, APC) addressed the importance of empowering the student body. He expressed that each student has the potential to manifest positive change in the University, government, and the nation. “Today  is the day we start waking up our student body, where Lasallians are at the forefront of protecting democracy,” he stated.

Executive Secretary

Tapat’s candidate EJ Baillo (IV, IE) highlighted the importance of the Executive Secretary, explaining that they should pave the way for transparent and accountable processes and solutions. The Executive Secretary, he added, should also take charge in presenting plans of action to the student body and developing effective communication between the USG and its constituents.

Santugon’s candidate Sam Manaloto (II, AB-OCM) proclaimed that there is more to an Executive Secretary than being transparent. Instead, she stated that it is a position that stands with the students in every concern, leading them toward effective communication and progress. “I believe you (the students) truly deserve concrete actions and actualized programs that will transpire to your dialogue in innovative platforms,” she expressed.

Executive Treasurer

Won Suk Cho (III, BSMSCS), running under Santugon, talked about his past experiences and credentials as a student council treasurer in high school. In addition, he advocated for the automation of the USG’s finances. “With outside experiences, I got a glimpse of how financial processes can be improved with [the] integration of technology,” Cho explained.

Tapat’s Kevin Wu (III, FIN), on the other hand, emphasized a platform that would focus on developing scholarship programs for students who need it. “This campaign is for you (students) and this is why when I lead the office, I will fight for an education that works for all. I believe that education is a right, not a privilege,” he stressed.

Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVRCOB) President

Tapat’s Nates Driz (III, IBS) advocated for “an education system that is fit for all.” He also advocated for a USG that fights for the rights of minorities and the discriminated. In line with that, he shared his plan to create a process and a committee dedicated to investigating harassment and discrimination issues faced by the students. “As the USG, it is our job to protect the rights and welfare of every student,” he stated.

In contrast, Santugon’s Cammy Angeles (II, MKT) pushed for a “Santugon brand of leadership”. “This is the leadership that trained aspiring Lasallian students of the USG in the [Junior Executive Training] program. This is the leadership that brought you Animo Biz so that you can exercise your passion and your dreams. This is the leadership that guided each and [every] student during enlistment [through] proper student services,” she explained. 

Gokongwei College of Engineering (GCOE) President

Madeleine Tsai (II, CIV), Santugon’s candidate for GCOE President, shared her vision of a college that reaches out and guides students toward an engaged and empowered University. She relayed some of her plans for the college, such as on-the-job training abroad, the Upgrade Convention, and the National Engineering Camp.

On the other hand, Angelo Chupeco (IV, CHE) from Tapat lamented that students “do not get the proper student services that [they] deserve.” He put forward his vision to make student service systems more reliable by making it more organized and simplified. He also planned to nurture a progressive and sustainable engineering community that is willing to lobby for mental health and academic freedom. 

College of Computer Studies (CCS) President

Noki Topacio (II, CS), who is running under Tapat’s slate, proclaimed that their party has delivered on the promises they made during past elections. “It takes a long time to make [a] change, which is why we have consistently brought you leaders capable of supporting the college,” he expressed. Topacio added that they will lobby for policies that will benefit future generations of CCS students, even for those after their administration.

Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education (BAGCED) President

Angel Evaristo (II, EED-ECED), Santugon’s bet for BAGCED President, shared her experience as a freshman entering a degree program she was redirected to. “I felt very lost. You see, I am one of the many students who [were] redirected from [their degree program of choice], and I stayed because it was [where] I found who I truly am,” she imparted. She envisioned a college that proudly upholds who they are as future Lasallian educators through collaborative engagement. 

Meanwhile, Tapat’s Alexis Salazar (II, EED-ECED) questioned the progress of past platforms and what had become of those promises. She emphasized that their platform does not appeal to students for the sake of gaining votes but for justice. 

“Nung [mga] nakaraang araw nag-campaign kami, pero ‘di namin pinapakilala ang sarili namin. Pinapakilala namin ang platform namin [na] ipinaglalaban namin—ang platform na ginawa at pinaghirapan namin,” she claimed. 

(For the past few days, we were not campaigning for ourselves. Instead, we were introducing the platform we’re fighting for—the platform that we worked hard on.)

College of Liberal Arts (CLA) President

Tapat’s Pepeton Felipe (III, AB-OCM) presented his plans for creating more accessible opportunities to students. He advocated for a student-centered college that includes their voice in the decisions made by the USG. Felipe mentioned that they can address student apathy by focusing on their needs and interests.

“There have been so many innovative projects in the past but we forget to ask if these actually catered to the needs of the students,” he voiced out. He also believes in building a USG that promotes the growth of very student and one that provides everyone equal opportunities.

Milo Uncanin (III, AB-ISE) of Santugon highlighted his service in various USG positions, having held positions as Chief of Staff of the Office of the Vice President of External Affairs and as the incumbent FAST2016 Batch President. He backed the introduction of further interdisciplinary opportunities, unit integration, and collaborative spaces for the College. “Ang CLA ay hindi lamang Liberal Arts majors kung hindi future business leaders, educators, at leaders in innovation and technology,” Uncanin shared. 

(CLA do not just make Liberal Arts majors but also future business leaders, educators, and leaders in innovation and technology.)

College of Science (COS) President

Julia Brago (II, BS-BIO), Tapat’s contender for COS President, proclaimed her vision of a college that provides better student services, proper representation, and external opportunities. Her vision is supported by strengthening the student services committee and improving communication by training officers. She also unveiled her plans to fight for students’ rights, promote student welfare, and partake in nation-building. 

Brago also addressed student apathy, pinning it on a lack of understanding on the importance of elected officers. “Alam niyo ba kung bakit nawawalan ng interest ang mga estudyante sa USG? It is because they do not see the importance and they do not [understand] the function of elected officers,” she claimed.

(Do you know why students have lost interest in the USG? It is because they do not see the importance and they do not [understand] the function of elected officers.)

School of Economics (SOE) President

Running for SOE President, Lizelle Cruz (III, AEF-MKT) of Tapat expressed the importance of leadership and change. She shared her vision for a college that allows students to be progressive thinkers and leadership built on principles. Cruz addressed the students in her desire for each student to be well-represented, to offer an educational system that caters to them, and to present research-based platforms. “You deserve leadership that is built on principles, a leadership that is based on research-based platforms,” she emphasized.

Santugon’s Vishal Bhagia (II, AEF-BSA) emphasized on bringing the focus back on students. He pushed for an SOE that provides students with better opportunities and “refocused student representation”. “Kung may problema o may kinakailangan ang school of excellence, gagawan namin ng solusyon because that is [what] a responsive student government [does],” he proclaimed.

(If there’s a problem or a need in the school of excellence, we will find a solution for it because that is what a responsive student government does.)

Open forum

An open forum was held after the event proper where candidates were asked questions gathered by The LaSallian and the La Salle Debate Society. Candidates from each political party were allotted 30 seconds to provide a response.

The first question raised tackled the broad platforms candidates continuously present during room-to-room campaigns, specifically on how each party will ensure that specific actions will take place for achieving goals in the USG. Marga Dela Cruz responded by saying that it starts with consultation. 

“We actually [consulted] with different [administrative] offices pertaining to the ideas that we have, and we make sure that whatever we propose to the students is feasible and is actually something we can do during our term,” she elaborated.

Lance Dela Cruz, meanwhile, wished to dispel the notion that consultation only starts when they assume office and shared their plans once they begin their term. “In our first few days in office, this is what we will do: we will invoke the student’s charter because the current process that we have is already detrimental to our right to organize,” he explained.

When a question about past impeachment cases due to negligence by USG officers came up, Lance Dela Cruz responded that addressing this is one of the flagship programs of Tapat. “We will reinstate the Office of the Ombudsman for the many corruption, negligence, and incompetence [cases in] the USG. That way, we can ensure that every officer [in] the USG is accountable for their actions,” he stressed.

Marga Dela Cruz, on the other hand, answered that the Judiciary should be empowered to investigate these cases and that it is on them as student leaders to be transparent as well. “As president, it is also important that we complete transparency reports per college, per unit, [and] per executive board because we all should be helping each other [out],” she said.

Candidates from Santugon were also questioned on their party’s reputation and work ethic. This was in reference to the impeachment of Angeli Andan, who ran for and won Vice President for External Affairs under their slate in GE 2018, but was subsequently removed for gross negligence charges in her previous role. Leviste stated that this can be resolved by having candidates with experience and vision.

“We’ve already had experience of doing many things both inside and outside the University, and I think that experience is the things we have done and things we can do not only for the University, but [also] for the entire country [sic],” he added.

The campaign period officially ends on July 22, with voting set to begin on July 23 and will end on July 26. As of press time, the Cory Aquino Democratic Space and the ground floor of Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall will be the designated polling booths.

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