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Tapat makes comeback in GE 2019, secures majority EB, CAP seats

Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) obtained a majority over the University Student Government (USG) from Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) in General Elections (GE) 2019—the first time in the USG’s 10-year history.

The party last dominated the elections in 2008, back when it was still structured as the Student Council. That year, the party won 47 seats compared to Santugon who only won 29. This year, Tapat won 38 seats, while Santugon won only 18. Five independent candidates, meanwhile, won in the Laguna Campus. The remaining 15 seats are vacant.

This year’s electoral results are in stark contrast to last year, which ended with a Santugon-led USG after Tapat failed to field any candidates in GE 2018. The party claimed last year that they found difficulty completing their certificates of candidacy, making them miss the deadline. Santugon, meanwhile, submitted on time. 

In an unprecedented comeback, Tapat now holds four of the five Executive Board (EB) positions and six out of the seven seats for College President. 

The results were announced by the DLSU Commission on Elections (Comelec) last August 10. Originally, they were supposed to be published last July 29. However, multiple class suspensions due to inclement weather delayed the election proceedings. 

The upcoming EB will be headed by incoming USG President Lance Dela Cruz. Joining him are Jolson Cruz as Vice President (VP) for Internal Affairs, Ronin Leviste as VP for External Affairs, EJ Baillo as the Executive Secretary, and Kevin Wu as the Executive Treasurer.

Results in depth 

Tapat’s support came in bulk from ID 118 students. The party garnered 16 batch government positions out of the total 21 available. Furthermore, for the freshmen, Tapat swept all colleges except for two seats in the Gokongwei College of Engineering (GCOE) and three seats in the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. 

Meanwhile, on a per college level, the College of Computer Studies, College of Science, and Br. Andrew Gonzalez College of Education (BAGCED) will be represented purely by Tapat candidates. Other colleges will have a mix of Tapat and Santugon representatives. 

Despite reaching the required minimum voter turnout, 15 seats still remain vacant—13 from the Manila Campus, and two from the Laguna Campus. All of those vacancies were because no candidate ran for those positions, with the exception of the EXCEL2020 Batch VP candidate who lost since the majority of students in the batch abstained from voting. 

For the Manila Campus, all seats in the 71st Eng batch government; the 72nd Eng Batch VP; the CATCH2T20 Batch VP and Legislative Assembly Representative (LA); all the seats for the FOCUS2017 batch government; the EDGE2017 Batch VP and LA representative; the EXCEL2019 Batch VP; and the EXCEL2020 Batch VP have no winners. On the other hand, the Laguna Campus is missing an LA and a GCOE representative. 

According to Comelec resolution 2019-02, which enumerated the vacancies, the empty seats will be occupied by the incumbent officers until a special election can determine a new set of representatives. The special election will be conducted “within the first four weeks of the first trimester” of the upcoming academic year.

Comelec statistics

The elections saw 5,051 students, equivalent to 53.96 percent of the undergraduate population, head to the polling booths to cast their votes. Despite the two parties fielding candidates this year, the turnout has not changed significantly from last year, which ended at 52.48 percent.

Overall, BAGCED obtained the highest voter turnout at 80.86 percent. Voting spanned a total of four days, except for GCOE, which had its voting period extended in order to reach the required minimum turnout.

In addition, the Absentee Voter Act, which allowed students who were not present on campus during the voting period, was implemented this GE. However, Comelec Commissioner JC Ababan shared that out of the five students who were approved as absentee voters, only two actually voted.

What to expect

Having obtained more seats in this year’s GE, Tapat may see most of its planned projects and initiatives implemented. Aside from securing most of the executive positions in the EB and colleges, the party also has a strong presence in the LA, winning 10 of 21 overall.

During the campaign, Tapat focused on multiple key reforms, such as mental health policies and anti-sexual harassment guidelines. Internal changes within the USG, such as returning the Office of the Ombudsman and calling for constitutional revisions, were also given stronger emphasis.

During the Miting De Avance last July 20, the party echoed these key programs, with Dela Cruz sharing his desire to offer students opportunities to excel in the University setting. Furthermore, he promised to listen to the voice of each sector and to use research based approaches when formulating USG policies. 

He also highlighted that addressing negligence among their ranks is one of the major thrusts of Tapat. Reinstating the Office of the Ombudsman, Dela Cruz emphasized, would address “the many corruption, negligence, and incompetence [cases in] the USG. That way, [they] can ensure that every officer [in] the USG is accountable for their actions.” 

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