As the 2022 national elections draw nearer, the Office of the Vice President for External Affairs (OVPEA) is facing the challenge of bolstering the Lasallian community’s safety and social engagement amid a prolonged pandemic. Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon bet Lara Jomalesa is more than ready to take on this challenge.
On their background
The LaSallian: How do you think your past experiences both inside and outside the USG has prepared you to take on this role?
Lara Jomalesa: My past experiences, especially…being the Legislative Assembly representative has honed my passion, not just toward advocacies, but even more on [the] safety response [for] students [and] giving them opportunities. And as we near the 2022 [National Elections], there are more advocacies that need to be put forward as well. And I think those experiences really led me to be in this position right now and to work for this position and role as well.
On the status quo
The LaSallian: Would you say that the USG has taken a definitive stance on national issues in the past terms? How do you envision the OVPEA building off of this momentum?
Jomalesa: I believe that Cate [Malig] has done well, starting it off with Boto Lasalyano, Sulong Pilipino, but at the same time, there are more things to improve as well in the current administration. If I were given the chance…to become [the] VPEA, I do believe that we need to have a more concrete [National Election] candidates forum, because that’s how we can learn more about our candidates. At the same time, we have to put forward…the different backgrounds of our leaders, especially right now during these trying times.
The LaSallian: How will your USG respond to socioeconomic issues on both national and University level?
Jomalesa: Our vision of being one with the students together for the nation really resonates on how we can build and…patronize our own interests inside especially for the students that we are going to be serving. But apart from that, we wanted to hone those interests as well to…bring it outside the University because at the end of the day, we have to consider and recognize that we’re…Lasallian achievers for both God and country. So we start inside, and then we go outside.
On their plans and priorities
The LaSallian: How do you plan to navigate the challenges brought by the ongoing pandemic?
Jomalesa: This ongoing pandemic has [caused] a lot of issues, especially to student welfare. And I can really see that as a batch representative, that is why there should be more standardized policies when it comes to academics and…more financial grants to be led by our Office of the Treasurer, because at the end of the day, these are things that really can help the students right now.
The LaSallian: Currently, you are the majority floor leader of the Legislative Assembly. As you have pushed forward various policies and bills for the University, what problems do you see yourself encountering and what concrete plans do you have for the OVPEA?
Jomalesa: Something that really struck me before as a Legislative Assembly representative is really how we respond to calamities, especially nowadays. That’s why I also established the Disaster Risk Reduction Ad Hoc committee. More than that, I really want to strengthen how the Laguna campus can be part of that program as well. Because at the end of the day, OVPEA as an office shouldn’t be just serving the DLSU Manila campus leaders, but also [the] Laguna campus. That’s one of my priorities as well and something that I really see as a need.
The LaSallian: Do you plan to revisit or continue any initiatives that were started during these last terms?
Jomalesa: Definitely, I would continue the Boto Lasalyano, Sulong Pilipino as it is something institutionalized already. And I want to put more emphasis on the different faces that we have, especially that we’re dealing with the national elections, but apart from that improvement [in] disaster response is something to take into consideration as well.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.