After removing it from their agenda last session, the Legislative Assembly (LA) finally resumed deliberations on the proposed recall process guidelines for University Student Government (USG) officers last Saturday, August 29. The Assembly also approved the resignation of a batch student government officer and the immediate appointment of his replacement.
Recall process ‘subjective’
Following the recommendation of the floor last August 8 to consult with the Judiciary branch, BLAZE2022 Batch Representative Giorgina Escoto elaborated on the revisions made to the proposed recall process to cover the branch’s role. In the revised resolution, the DLSU Commission on Elections (Comelec) is in charge of organizing the voting procedures for the recall, while the Judiciary will handle petitions that call for a review of an ongoing recall vote against an officer.
The resolution has also defined the recall process as the removal of a USG officer due to a loss of confidence among the electorate they serve. This “loss of confidence”, the resolution added, would be “subject to the affirmation of at least the majority of their constituents.”
While the student body has the right to vote officers into office, the recall process would serve as “an avenue wherein we can remove them from office if we no longer think or feel they are representing us well,” Escoto elaborated.
Similar to the Assembly’s previous deliberation, representatives again raised concerns over the unclear distinction between the recall process and impeachment. Director for Counsel Officers Elijah Flores, a member of the Judiciary invited by the LA, said the recall process was “subjective” and the definition of “loss of confidence” was vague in contrast to the articles of impeachment, which he said were based on “well-established” grounds.
Escoto, however, pointed out that recall and impeachment are both cited in the 2009 USG Constitution, so there must be guidelines for the students to be able to exercise them.
The 2009 USG Constitution referenced the recall process several times; Article IV, Section 8 states that students “[have] the right to recall their representatives from office”, while Article XVIII, Section 3.2 says that the Judiciary may “impeach or recall USG officers”.
Counsel Officer Jericho Quiro, another invited member of the Judiciary, argued that “there is very little need” for the recall process as “there are other legal means available with a smaller amount of workload”. Regardless, he reassured the Assembly that the Judiciary will still help with the process should the resolution be passed.
“It actually doesn’t hurt that much to provide a legislation that gives this kind of process,” Flores added, citing the provision in the USG Bill of Rights. Although he believes the resolution may be a deterrent to the officers’ right to due process, Flores suggested that limitations should be set in place to avoid potential reckless use.
However, the Assembly again failed to agree on the resolution. FAST2017 Batch Representative Neal Gonzales proposed to lay the resolution on the table to allow final revisions. At the same time, Ragudo recommended to revise the recall process instead “to empower the impeachment process”, asserting that the former is subjective while the latter has due process.
With conflicting perspectives from all sides of the LA, Escoto proposed to shelve the resolution. However, CATCH2T21 Batch Representative Jaime Pastor objected, suggesting instead to vote on the resolution and then form “an alternative strategy” to address the guidelines for the recall process. BLAZE2020 Batch Representative Urban Teh, in contrast, supported Escoto, asserting that the Judiciary already emphasized the need to elaborate on the protocols.
With agreement still far from reach, the Assembly once again laid the resolution on the table.
BLAZE2020 Batch Vice President Anton Mapoy tendered his resignation through Teh, citing difficulties in serving the student body due to his family’s disapproval even as far back as when he ran for the position.
In Mapoy’s place, Teh called for the appointment of BLAZE2020 Externals Chairperson Jed Tongco, who was already endorsed by Business College Government President Nates Driz and BLAZE2020 President Denise Ng.
Mapoy’s resignation and Tongco’s appointment were both approved by the Assembly without objections.
Though still facing challenges in balancing academic workload, the LA’s committees were able to present updates on their ongoing projects. The LA, along with the rest of the USG, recently launched a survey to gather feedback from students on online classes. The Students’ Rights and Welfare committee, which led the effort, explained that the responses were used to create recommendations for other University offices on improvements in online classes.
The National Affairs committee is set to hold awareness campaigns and webinars upon having documents approved by the Department of Activity and Approval Monitoring and the Office of the Executive Treasurer. The Rules and Policies committee, meanwhile, reported that it convened with the Judiciary to address the latter’s concerns and discuss proposed amendments to the USG Constitution. The committee is also set to work on the online elections code with DLSU Comelec.