Coming from different vantage points, Caleb Chua of Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) and Christian Peralta of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) take on the race for Executive Treasurer.
While Chua wants to build on the programs of the current treasury office, he finds that its performance has been “very good” this year. However, Peralta contests that, despite having experienced financial problems himself, there were no current grants that he could apply for. Nonetheless, both express plans to expand existing aid programs, among which are proposals for COVID-19 assistance, on which they also disagree on the appropriate coverage.
The LaSallian: For Caleb, how has your past experience in the USG helped prepare you for the role of Executive Treasurer?
Caleb Chua (Santugon): Currently, as the overall bazaar head of [the] Rektikano 2021 Online Bazaar, I’m already part of the Office of the Executive Treasurer (OTREAS)…And through this, I believe that I have the capability and the experience, learning from different people, different committees within the office to make me the next Executive Treasurer because I have the passion, and I understand how people are going through…and I want to be there to help them I want to be able to serve them with the best of my abilities and to understand what their situation is today.
The LaSallian: For Christian, how has your past experience in the BLAZE2022 Batch Government helped you prepare to become Executive Treasurer?
Christian Peralta (Tapat): So marami na akong nasalihan na mga projects kung saan ako ay naging project head, vice president, executive, at kung ano pa man. Pero sa tingin ko ay ang pagiging normal na estudyante ang tunay na tumulong sa akin para maging capable sapagkat nakita ko ang current na mga problema from an outside perspective. Magagamit ko ito sa pag-address ng mga current problems at magbigay ng mga kailangan ng bawat estudyante.
The LaSallian: We’ve gathered information that there have been bottlenecks in obtaining funds for some USG units. How significant a problem would you say this is?
Peralta: So there have been delayed (sic) getting these funds. So ang kailangan natin ay i-improve ‘yung mga processes kung pa’no makuha ng mga batch units na ‘to ang mga funds na kailangan nila upang ma-implement ang mga projects na ito. We can lobby for a better process kung pa’no makukuha ‘yung funds na ‘to.
Chua: I believe that it is a problem with students if student organizations have a difficult time. But me, personally, I believe that this can be solved through proper and efficient communication, to constantly understand the context of different student governments [and] student organizations for us to understand how you allocate our funds well.
The LaSallian: Now, let’s dig into that. Do you have any concrete ways for how you can better establish communication lines with the administration?
Chua: I believe in a proactive leadership and a consultative brand of leadership to understand what really is the problem…And what I plan to do is to be able to contact admin offices in advance to be able to ask them, “This is what our students want. We have asked them; this is what the students want po, and we want to ask how we can better improve the current system.”
The LaSallian: For Christian, on the other hand…have you also thought or thought of what exactly you’re going to lobby for and how you’re going to get your message to the administration?
Peralta: Okay, so na-mention ko ang plano ko ay lobbying for better processes. Kasi ito ang naghi-hinder sa atin or nagpapatagal or nagpapa-delay ng mga ating documents. So with proper consultation and pagtulong sa ating mga estudyante, makakamit natin ang better processes na ‘to.
The LaSallian: Do you have plans to expand the financial assistance programs of OTREAS or will you simply continue the current ones and siguro how?
Peralta: So when I think of my platforms, what I saw in the OTREAS is puwede pa i-improve ang pagka-sustainable ng grants natin. So what I plan to have is to have contractual scholarships with various companies. So bale ang contractual scholarships na ‘to ay tutulungan ang mga estudyante natin o ipa-graduate sila then have a contract for them to work for that company. So sa pamamagitan ng contractual scholarships na ‘to, magkakaroon tayo ng targeted approach towards sa mga courses and hindi na nila kailangan isipin ang kanilang financial needs, especially now nasa pandemic tayo.
Chua: I believe that the current plans of OTREAS and financial aid programs have been very efficient and are actually sustainable…But then I also believe that there [is] much room for improvement. We can look for different ways on how we can serve the students properly by being able to ask them, “How can I help you? What are your concerns now?” So we can look for different student sectors who are having a difficult time, and we aim to create financial grants that are more accessible for them, so that they may be able to be more financially supported as they journey through their Lasallian education currently during the pandemic.
The LaSallian: How would you handle budgeting for the USG in the event that its budget is lowered again next year?
Chua: I believe that we must be able to consult, to understand the situation of the different student orgs [and] different student sectors—how each and every Lasallian is affected by the pandemic and how they’re feeling and how our budgeting would actually help their situation out…And through this, I believe that we can create better allocation by analyzing the activities, by analyzing the different projects of different organizations and different student government units.
Peralta: Ang Executive Treasurer ang nagbibigay ng oportunidad para makaaral nang maayos ang mga estudyante despite the limits of financial, technological, at kung ano pang kailangan ng estudyante. Plano ko na mag-implement ng mga fundraising activities partnering up with various companies para maitaas pa ang ating funds at puwede din tayo mag re-allocate ng resources natin para pang matugunan ang mga problema sa ating paaralan.
The LaSallian: So just so we’re clear, both of you are proposing a COVID-19 assistance fund…In terms of coverage [and] substance, how are they different?
Chua: I believe that how my project is different from Christian’s is we can provide different types of assistance—guided assistance. We can provide assistance like medical fee assistance, we can partner with the LSWP (Lasallian Student Welfare Program) as well as especially for vaccination subsidies.
Peralta: I don’t know about his plan pero siyempre alam ko ‘yung akin is [the] COVID-19 Fund. Yung COVID-19 Fund na ‘to ay bibigyan ng financial aid or kahit ano mang kailangan nila basta pandemic-related. For example, naospital ang family mo, loved ones mo, puwede kang tulungan ng COVID-19 Fund. It’s not limited to the students but also to the staff and faculty of the University.
The LaSallian: But you’re aware, right, that your constituents first and foremost are students. So will there be some sort of prioritization that students have to be prioritized over faculty or would it be open to anyone regardless?
Peralta: So in this pandemic, alam naman natin na lahat ay nangangailangan. Hindi na natin kailangang i-prioritize kundi dapat mag allocate tayo ng funds sa bawat sektor na nangangailangan. Hindi dapat tayo namimili kung sino lang dapat ang tinutulungan natin, kundi dapat ay lahat tinutulungan natin.
The LaSallian: Caleb, do you agree with that approach?
Chua: Personally, I disagree with that approach. I believe that the students are our priority. As the USG, we are the bridge between the students and the admin. And we are there to represent students. Although I believe that everyone is indeed in need. Everyone does need help. I’m not taking that fact away, that many of our faculty and staff are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But then…students are our primary constituents; they’re our main priority…especially during the pandemic, where many people are filing for leave of absences or having a difficult time paying for their medical bills.
Peralta: We all know naman [the] USG is for the students. What I’m saying is dapat hindi natin pinipili kung sino lang dapat ang tinutulungan natin. Dapat ay open tayo to all possibilities…Puwede natin sila (faculty and staff) bigyan ng tuon pero hindi ko sinasabi na hindi priority ang students. Ang students natin ay dapat natin bigyan din ang funds na ito.
Chua: I believe that as your Executive Treasurer it’s my responsibility to uphold the rights and the welfare of students in the pandemic…Our funds are not infinite and we must be able to optimize them and maximize those funds to be able to help our students today.
The LaSallian: What are your budget priorities if elected Executive Treasurer?
Peralta: Isa sa aming mga plataporma ay ang paggawa ng COVID-19 Fund. Itong COVID-19 Fund na ‘to ay ang pagtulong sa mga estudyante at kung sino pa man ay may pandemic concerns. Ito ang magbibigay sa mga kailangan nila in terms of financially, technologically, and medically—kung ano man pang kailangan ng mga estudyante.
Chua: What I’d plan to do is to continue giving financial assistance, especially through my my project, the COVID-19 Assistance Grant, which enables people to apply for COVID-19 Assistance, financial assistance and as well we could partner up as well with LSWP to provide vaccination grant, to give as well gadget grants, and what I believe is what separates is the sustainability of the current projects. I believe that there are many projects today that really focus on the different sectors of the University, student sectors in the University, and I aim to fight for those sectors to give those people financial assistance, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.