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Stricter rules on gender-neutral pronoun use, additional constitutional amendments approved in LA session

After almost a month without sessions, the Legislative Assembly (LA) once again convened over Zoom last December 5 to approve resolutions on using gender-neutral terms in LA resolutions and making minor amendments to the University Student Government (USG) Constitution, both of which were shelved during their last session on November 6.

Step toward inclusivity

Legislators unanimously approved a resolution that compelled them to use gender-neutral terms and pronouns in all their future resolutions.

FAST2019 Batch Representative Lara Jomalesa explained in their last session that one of the purposes of using gender-neutral language was to avoid implying that “one sex or social gender is the norm.” BLAZE2022 Giorgina Escoto emphasized that this mandate would “set the standard…for inclusivity and equality inside the [USG].”

The resolution outlined guidelines for the legislative use of gender-fair language. LA representatives are now allowed to use “they” and its derivations as a singular subject and minimize the use of gendered pronouns like “he”, “his”, “she”, and “her” and prefixes such as “Mr.” and “Ms.”.

The resolution was previously shelved to allow the authors to incorporate suggestions from other legislators, which included using the gender neutral prefix “Mx.” and adding a clause that makes it explicit that it will not take effect retroactively.

Constitutional amendments

The LA Inner Circle (LA-IC)—the administrative body of the LA composed of the Chief Legislator, floor leaders, committee chairpersons, and the Legislative Secretariat—held a meeting last week to discuss the proposed constitutional amendments. These were mostly clerical errors and suggestions from the Judiciary Department. The impeachment and recall processes, a hotly contested topic among legislators a few months back, were also specified on the Bill of Rights.

USG presidents currently have the power to veto policies, resolutions, and projects of the Executive Board within three days of the resolution’s approval. The LA has extended this provision to five working days.

Laguna Campus Student Government (LCSG) Representatives were also given leeway to not attend face-to-face LA sessions. Their voting powers, however, will only be valid if they are in physical attendance.

The Constitution also now mandates the Activities Assembly, the LA, and the USG President to convene after every academic term to consolidate their goals and objectives for the upcoming term.

The previously approved Office of the Chief Legislator (OCL) was also added, as well as provisions that would allow the Chief Legislator to establish committees within the OCL. The LA also removed the Legislative Secretariat position from the LA-IC given that the role will already be under the OCL.

The LA also decided to revise the constitutional provision on the number of magistrates from “two to eight” to “one to seven” to avoid incurring violations if there is a lack of magistrates, either due to an applicant shortage or external factors. 

Article XXI, which called for the creation of the Office of the Ombudsman, was also deemed too specific in its provisions. In accordance with the recommendation of the Judiciary, the body is working on making the provisions in the article “more generalized” while still capturing the principles of the office. 

New LCSG president

Incumbent LA Representative Miguel Batallones was appointed as the interim LCSG Campus President for Term 1 of Academic Year 2020-2021. His colleague, LCSG LA Representative Michele Gelvoleo, relayed that the Student Affairs office in the Laguna campus was “apparently okay” with Batallones holding two elected positions simultaneously.

Chief Legislator Jaime Pastor, however, advised Batallones to resign from his present legislative position before he takes on a new executive role, which the LA agreed to. Gelvoleo said that Batallones will submit his formal resignation next week.

New committee placements

Following the session’s agenda, Pastor announced new LA committee placements based on the results of a recent LA exam, reorganizing the current body into more balanced committees in light of the recent officer replacements. 

For the Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Committee, EXCEL2022 Representative Brendan Miranda was elected as Chairperson, EXCEL2020 Representative Lorenzo Amado as Vice Chairperson, and FOCUS2019 Representative Macario Vjuan as Secretary. 

The Rules and Policies (RnP) Committee has Gelvoleo as Chairperson, Jomalesa as Vice Chairperson, and FOCUS2018 Representative Renee Formoso as Secretary. 

Lastly, 72nd ENG Representative Ethan Rupisan was appointed as Chairperson, 74th ENG Representative Kyle Arbas as Vice Chairperson, and CATCH2T22 Representative Shannon Ho as Secretary for the National Affairs Committee (NatAff). 

Miranda, Gelvoleo, and Rupisan also briefly bared the plans of their respective committees for the remaining weeks of the term. Miranda shared that the STRAW committee will be working with the administration and the other departments to strengthen the online class system. 

Meanwhile, Gelvoleo said that the RnP Committee will see to it that “the changes that need to be reflected in the USG Constitution are acknowledged.” Rupisan, on the other hand, said that the NatAff Committee will be creating awareness campaigns that will focus on the country’s minority sectors within the next couple of weeks. 

By Kim Balasabas

By Jemimah Tan

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