It can be argued that youth groups have a hand in mobilizing the youth to involve themselves in social issues. Among those active in spearheading mobilizations are youth-centered organizations such as Kabataan and youth wings of political parties such as Akbayan. Various protest actions in recent decades have typically been co-organized by these organizations. 

Within the Lasallian community, the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA) serves as the University administration’s arm in advocating social welfare and responsibility through projects that champion social engagement.

Meanwhile, One La Salle for Human Rights and Democracy (OLFHRD) has also been active in pursuing its own advocacy. Despite its name, however, it is not officially recognized by the University—at least for the time being. Nevertheless, this did not hinder the group from organizing events. The LaSallian had previously covered People’s Struggles Week, an awareness campaign organized by OLFHRD that aimed to shed light on various marginalized sectors. The event allowed students to engage in various activities such as candle-lighting, forums, and a rally. 

Reeya Magtalas (II, EED-ECED), a convenor—a member who arranges meetings to set the organization’s response on current issues—for OLFHRD, reveals more about the organization’s linkages with Lasallian students and the administration, their current situation, and their goal of being formally accredited as an organization. 


A youth alliance 

As Magtalas narrates, OLFHRD was formed as an initiative of Lasallian students. “The youth has a very important role in nation building,” Magtalas shares when asked about their philosophy as an organization. She elaborates that the youth have to be critical thinkers, in the face of pressing issues in society. More importantly, she emphasizes that their philosophy is aligned with the Lasallian values—faith, service, and communion. 

In contrast to COSCA, which serves as an official unit of the University, OLFHRD identifies itself as an “alliance” of different organizations, the member organizations of which were not disclosed, with the aim of speaking out “on national issues of human rights and democracy.”

Magtalas shares that they take a more personal approach to their activities, such as holding one-on-one discussions with students. OLFHRD also opens events and meetings to students that aim to tackle pressing issues in the nation.

Mobilizations co-organized by the OLFHRD in recent months have enjoyed the participation of accredited student organizations, including student political parties Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista and Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon. Recent mobilizations and activities included the  commemoration of the 47th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, and consultations with DLSU College of Law Founding Dean Atty. Chel Diokno. The group also took vocal stands against certain actions of the Duterte administration—during the preliminary investigations last August 9 on sedition charges pressed against opposition figures including Diokno, Vice President Leni Robredo, and De La Salle Philippines (DLSP) President Br. Armin Luistro FSC, the group invited students to join DLSP’s contingent at the premises of the Department of Justice.


Accreditation hurdles



Accreditation is a necessary step for an organization to become recognized by the University. However, despite operating within the Lasallian community, OLFHRD has yet to be accredited by the University. Magtalas admits that the reason for the group’s lack of accreditation is because the “alliance” itself is ignorant of the procedure. “Wala siya sa handbook so hindi namin alam kung paano nga ba [or] ano gagawin [para] ma-accredit yung [OLFHRD], she explains.

Accreditation is a necessary step for an organization to become recognized by the University. However, despite operating within the Lasallian community, OLFHRD has yet to be accredited by the University. Magtalas admits that the reason for the group’s lack of accreditation is because the “alliance” itself is ignorant of the procedure. “Wala siya sa handbook so hindi namin alam kung paano nga ba [or] ano gagawin [para] ma-accredit yung [OLFHRD], she explains.

(It’s not in the handbook so we don’t know the steps on how to get OLFHRD accredited.)

Although, she discloses that their “alliance” has plans to be recognized under the Office of Student Leadership Involvement, Formation and Empowerment (SLIFE) in order to be considered an official organization. 

According to the University’s Student Activities Manual, for an organization to receive accreditation from the University, they will need to file an application to the Aspiring Organizations Accreditation Committee (AOAC), which is composed of the Director of SLIFE, the Chairperson of the Council of Student Organizations, and the Vice President for Internal Affairs of the University Student Government. The AOAC screens organizations based on the alignment of their goals with that of the University.

After passing the AOAC’s preliminary deliberations, they will be given a three-month observation period, after which they will either be rejected or accepted for a three-term probationary period. 

Though the organization has yet to be recognized, they have, however, already conducted various activities on-campus, such as the aformentioned People’s Struggles Week. But logistical requirements, such as room reservations, can only be processed if an organization is accredited. How this was arranged remains unclear, as Magtalas could not be reached for further comment.  


Internal support

Angelo Herrera, COSCA’s Advocacy and Adult Formation Coordinator, mentions that COSCA has “little interaction with OLFHRD”. Although the latter has sent invitations to join their programs and initiatives, Herrera states that COSCA has been wary about accepting offers because the “alliance” is not accredited. 

“There were several instances when OLFHRD approached us for possible [collaborations], and while we appreciate the invitation, we had to respond by recommending that they process their application for accreditation to make it possible for us to explore any potential collaboration,” Herrera explains.

Despite the lack of direct support and interaction from the administration, Magtalas admits that there are those in the administration and faculty who share similar sentiments with OLFHRD. “[The support of the faculty is similar to the] admin’s na hindi direct ‘yung support nila pero meron sa faculty na nakakausap din minsan sa advocacies and issues,” she states. She furthers that they sympathize with the issues that OLFHRD brings up.

(The support of the faculty is similar to the administration’s in that their support isn’t direct, but there are faculty members whom we are able to talk to about advocacies and issues.)

OLFHRD also relies on support from the student body. Magtalas mentions how they get students to join actively join in to tackle current issues in the country. “‘Pag kumakausap kami ng mga students na ito ‘yung isyu at hand and [they themselves join] kasi naiintindihan rin naman nila ‘yung isyu,” she discloses. 

(Students themselves join the organization when we get to talk to them, because they do understand the present issues.)

Magtalas acknowledges favorable responses from organizations in the University but most especially from the student body. She also discloses that the administration does not intervene with any of their advocacies. Rather, they support one another in several events and mobilizations that call for the unity of the Lasallian community.

By Deo Cruzada

By Isabela Marie Roque

By Eliza Santos

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