Santugon triumphs in GE 2021, ending two years of a Tapat-led EB

Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) scored a majority of seats in General Elections (GE) 2021, an election season mired by harassment allegations against candidates and technical setbacks that forced numerous voting extensions. The party captured all Executive Board (EB) seats for the first time since GE 2018, when it ran unopposed.

Chief Legislator Giorgina Escoto will lead the next batch of student leaders as University Student Government (USG) President, alongside her party mates Britney Paderes as Vice President (VP) for Internal Affairs, Lara Jomalesa as VP for External Affairs, Jewel Limjoco as Executive Secretary, and Caleb Chua as Executive Treasurer.

Santugon’s decisive win amounted to a repudiation of Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista’s (Tapat) brand of leadership, which was built up since the latter’s comeback win in 2019. Overall, Santugon won 41 seats, while Tapat secured only 17.

This year’s polls, the second to be conducted entirely online, saw a six-day voting period, as the voting website going offline multiple times and voting crawled its way to a middling final turnout of 55.43 percent, a drop from the 60.02 percent recorded in Make-up Elections 2021. 

A sea of blue

Across the board, Santugon finds itself at an advantage. While Tapat has taken more college president seats, Santugon still retains a majority of the Executive Committee, a working group that includes the EB.

On a batch government level, Santugon won 32 seats, while Tapat only obtained 13. Across batches, Santugon seemed to have drawn more support from the ID 119 and 120 batches in the three largest colleges—the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVRCOB), the Gokongwei College of Engineering, and the College of Liberal Arts.

In fact, RVRCOB and the College of Computer Studies were swept up entirely by Santugon. The School of Economics, which had previously been a Tapat stalwart, saw its ID 120 batch in favor of Santugon, while the College of Science, another former Tapat stronghold, has largely switched to the blue party.

Only the Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education voted predominantly red, losing only one seat to Santugon.

In the Legislative Assembly, Santugon edges out Tapat by four seats, an outcome that may give them the advantage to carry out their agenda in the legislature. The party had earlier revealed plans to enact University-wide safety protocols, expand policies on libel and slander, and explore forming a committee for students with learning disabilities, to name a few.

However, Tapat may still be able to turn the tides to its favor as six legislator seats are still vacant, while another seven seats from the ID 121 batch will be up for grabs in the freshman election next term.

In total, 24 USG seats are still vacant, 10 of which belong to the Laguna Campus, where no candidates ran for any position.

Issues abound

Throughout the campaign trail, both parties faced an onslaught of allegations and criticisms that put their candidates in the spotlight. Santugon’s candidate for GCOE College President and Tapat’s candidate for FAST2018 LA Representative faced numerous sexual harassment allegations online, prompting both to step down from the race and the DLSU Commission on Elections to issue new guidelines for formally withdrawing one’s candidacy.

Santugon candidates, meanwhile, were slammed online for their stances in the Fast Talk published by The LaSallian, where they revealed they were in favor of retaining the Visiting Forces Agreement but were opposed to a P10,000 cash aid for all students and a resumption of face-to-face classes.

The EB candidates, who would go on to win the positions they ran for, elaborated on their stances in a video posted on Facebook and in questions fielded during the GE Debate and Miting de Avance.

Tapat had also faced backlash in the closing hours of the campaign period when a former candidate for VP for External Affairs revealed in a Facebook post how their standard-bearer, Calvin Almazan, told her that her mental health “jeopardizes” their election bid.

The party would later apologize for their “internal party systems” and how it had harmed their former members’ well-being, while Almazan, in a separate statement, took responsibility for “failing to acknowledge the needs” of his colleague and for “not prioritizing mental health above all else.” 

Frank Santiago

By Frank Santiago

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