The Legislative Assembly (LA) convened for a late afternoon session last February 7 at the University Student Government (USG) Session Hall to appoint replacements for recently resigned FOCUS2017 Batch President Ina Mulingbayan and FOCUS2017 Batch Vice President Kenneth Gonzales. But the session soon soured as legislators argued over the candidates’ competencies.
The resignation of Mulingbayan and Gonzales, who held the top posts in FOCUS2017’s batch government, mandated replacements for their positions, as it would otherwise be left vacant for the current academic year. Albeit the reasons for their resignation were not tackled in detail during the session, it was mentioned that Tiffany Blanquera (III, BS-BIO) and Rolland Mae Jose (III, BS-BIO) were nominated for the positions in a resolution introduced by FOCUS2018 LA Representative Renee Formoso.
Formoso emphasized that the appointees must meet certain requirements before they are officially qualified for the position. These include the hopefuls having no more than 15 units of failure if they hold a single degree or 18 units if they are taking up a double degree program. Aside from this, applicants must also have at least 12 academic units left to cover the remaining terms, “unless stated otherwise in the flowchart,” she noted.
Formoso also revealed that Blanquera was endorsed by College of Science President Julia Brago for the FOCUS2017 presidential position, based on her “outstanding” resume and academic standing.
“The fact that she’s already in the Executive Committee of the Student Government says a lot,” Formoso said.
Blanquera’s main objective is to help her batchmates find a proper “path” right after graduation. Originally coming from the Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education, Blanquera was able to talk with her new coursemates and find out issues that plagued her batch.
“There are still students out there who don’t really know what to do with their college,” she lamented. The FOCUS2017 President appointee shared that students would either opt to take the DLSU Graduate Admissions Test to pursue graduate studies or the National Medical Admissions Test to be qualified for medical school.
Expressing her hopes in assisting students to be “prepared for the future”, Blanquera declared, “We want to be there for them—we will be there for them.”
Jose, meanwhile, took the floor as the candidate for the FOCUS2017 Batch Vice President seat left by Gonzales. Also endorsed by Brago, the vice president appointee declared mental health to be her major advocacy and mentioned plans of holding a “small talk” with her college, inviting people with similar professions to discuss the topic of mental illness—the “number one” issue faced by most college students, she claimed.
“I would want the approach [for them to] not be scared of opening up, so [that] their feelings will not be dismissed,” she reasoned.
She also hinted on a collaboration with the Office of Counseling and Career Services for similar projects, not only to “promote” the office, but also give students “more options” to talk to someone.
EDGE2019 LA Representative Johann Coscolluela, however, criticized Blanquera’s efficiency. He questioned whether or not the FOCUS2017 batch president candidate would be able to serve well as a USG officer, as it entails “being committed to serving” the student body and “being efficient” in one’s work.
“What kind of priority would be a student leader be to you—would it be your first priority or will it be just something [on] the side as a hustle?” Coscolluela pressed.
Coscolluela’s question, however, was met with a negative reaction from the Assembly. Chief Legislator Willem De Castro labeled the question as “discriminating in a sense”. “You’re questioning someone’s efficiency when, in fact, this person’s being presented to you [is] ready to serve,” he remarked.
Despite Coscolluela’s doubts, Blanquera’s appointment was approved unanimously by the Assembly. The same could not be said for Jose. FAST2017 LA Representative Neal Gonzales motioned for a two-minute recess before proceeding with Jose’s appointment, due to “mixed feelings” on the matter.
The Assembly returned, with only four members—LCSG Representative Michelle Gelvoleo, Formoso, CATCH2T22 LA Representative Shannon Ho, and EXCEL2021 LA Representative Katkat Ignacio—siding with the resolution’s approval. The resolution failed as remaining Assembly members abstained, leaving the position still vacant.