The Legislative Assembly (LA) bared its final say on the USG Constitution last November 15, approving the latest revisions in a session lasting a little over half an hour at the University Student Government (USG) Session Hall, third floor of Br. Connon Hall. The Assembly also approved revisions to the Special Elections Code in preparation for the Special Elections the following week.
EXCEL2020 Representative Nina Bermejo oversaw the session proceedings as acting Chief Legislator.
‘It’s already been five years’
Majority floor leader Maegan Ragudo of FAST2018 and BLAZE2020 LA Representative Urban Teh, who stood in for minority floor leader Neal Gonzales of FAST2017, shared with the Assembly the progress made on the USG Constitution’s recent revisions.
“It’s already been five years,” declared Ragudo, recalling the last attempt at having constitutional revisions ratified in 2014. It was a disastrous affair, with only 8.49 percent of the student population partaking in the vote.
She explained that the USG Constitution authorizes any amendment or revision “within three years” following the ratification of a previous amendment. However, as the previous plebiscite had failed, the last set of proposed amendments were not ratified. Ragudo reasoned that, since several years had already passed, it was time to seek amendments.
“Kailangan na talaga nating dumaan sa proseso ng constitutional plebiscite so that we can reassess the USG Constitution and pattern it to the current needs of the University,” she proposed.
(We really need to get this through the process of a constitutional plebiscite.)
She also suggested that any planned revision may allow for the creation of “a better and pro-student charter”, including measures that ensure the proper observation of checks and balances within the student government.
Apart from checks and balances, Teh believed that the new constitution must also stress accountability. “That’s why we established the Office of the Ombudsman here and we fixed some provisions under the Judiciary,” he reasoned.
Teh also disclosed that everything discussed in previous LA sessions regarding the constitutional revisions were consolidated into one online file, which will then be passed as a single resolution that can be “voted on in the coming terms.” Understanding the sentiments of the proponents, the Assembly approved this ratification unanimously.
The state of student governance
Preparations for the State of the Student Governance (SSG) were discussed during the session as well. The proponent, EDGE2018 LA Representative Leonna Gula, called for the compulsory attendance of all elected officers of the USG in the address. The event, she announced, will be held on November 29 from 10 am to 12 pm; as of press time, no venue has yet been disclosed for the SSG.
Gula summoned Office of the President (OPRES) Executive Director for Operations Sam Mamuric to explain the objective of the SSG. Mamuric stood in for OPRES Chief Communications Advisor Marvin Sayson, who was unavailable at that time.
“The aim of the [SSG] is to increase student transparency—as well as accountability—so that students may be informed of the activities of the USG units,” Mamuric explained.
Mamuric expounded that in preparation for the SSG, a meeting will be held between the college presidents and USG President Lance Dela Cruz. There, the officers will discuss planned initiatives for their respective colleges, and will send progress reports to the USG President for his evaluation. Dela Cruz will then deliver his recommendations during the SSG proper.
As for the Special Election Code, Teh returned as a proponent calling for any amendments to the terms. With the event already scheduled next week, he stressed that the discussion was a “very urgent matter.” Teh reported, however, that Commission on Elections Chairperson John Christian Ababan only raised minor concerns over the Code’s technicalities, such as inconsistent structure and organization of presented ideas.
The concern was acknowledged by the Assembly, consequently approving the suggested revisions unanimously, along with the other two resolutions. The session ended with a round of applause from the LA as they welcomed the approval of the amendments for the new USG Constitution, an event that has not happened in five years.