Santugon regains majority in USG #SE2022, 22 seats vacant due to invalidity

Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) claimed 14 out of 21 freshman positions in the University Student Government (USG) batch government units in the recently concluded Special Elections (SE) 2022, securing a Santugon-led ID 121 in their first year. Meanwhile, Alyansang Tapat sa Lasalista (Tapat) candidates bagged seven freshman positions.

Positions in the Gokongwei College of Engineering (GCOE), Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business (RVRCOB), College of Computer Studies (CCS), and College of Liberal Arts (CLA) were dominated by Santugon, while Tapat was scattered across the board, sweeping seats from the Br. Andrew Gonzalez College of Education (BAGCED) and the College of Science (COS), and two seats in the Laguna Campus Student Government (LCSG). Votes from the School of Economics (SOE) were divided as well, with EXCEL2024 Batch President Kyla Cansana and Batch Legislator Mikee Gadiana both coming from Santugon, and Batch Vice President Annika Subido coming from Tapat.

Amplified voices

Candidates went head-to-head in a live debate streamed via Facebook Live last January 28, highlighting their stances on the most pressing student affairs such as academic calendar revisions, resumption of face-to-face classes, safe spaces within the University, and student engagement in USG policies and programs. 

National issues were also discussed, including the prioritization of either education or the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, participatory democracy, government priorities, and student governments’ endorsements of #Halalan2022 candidates.

The debate eventually ended in a split between the two political parties. Subido and Santugon’s 76th ENG batch presidential candidate Yani Buhain prevailed in the first round while Tapat’s BLAZE2024 batch legislator candidate Elynore Orajay and Santugon’s CATCH2T25 batch legislator candidate Sebastian Diaz won the second round.

Encountered hurdles

Despite being on its third year online, this year’s SE did not go without a hitch as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) faced several technical difficulties such as sending out voter credentials to all eligible student voters via email, as well as concerns involving the lack of candidates from both parties and election validity. 

After the six-day voting period from February 2 to 7, 22 seats remain vacant in both Manila and Laguna campus governments; the former had a failed election for CLA ID 118 while the latter as a whole failed to reach the 50 percent plus one vote requirement. Out of those 22 seats, eight are from the Laguna Campus. The campus is yet to appoint members for its Executive Board members along with their CLA, CCS, and BAGCED representatives and two campus legislators. 

Meanwhile, the rest were from Manila Campus. FAST2018 Batch Vice President and Batch Legislator, 73rd ENG Batch President and Batch Vice President, and CATCH2T23 Batch President seats are vacant, as well as the top three positions for CATCH2T22, FOCUS2018, and EXCEL2021.

Systems awry

Students have also shared with The LaSallian that there have been delays with disseminating voter credentials. Some students from GCOE received theirs on February 4—only two days before the initial voting period deadline. Additionally, RVRCOB and SOE students from the Manila Campus received their voter credentials much later than the rest of the student population.

Similar reports from the Laguna Campus Student Government (LCSG) were also aired out through a Facebook post from standard bearer Elle Aspilla and her running mates. They publicly divulged that students were receiving their voter credentials late and were having validity issues. These were attributed with the low voter turnout initially, and the failure to reach the validity requirement by the end of the voting period. 

Aside from missing voter credentials, there were also claims about system errors, wherein Laguna Campus voters could not cast their votes if they did not click the “abstain” option while voting for the batch legislator position. These concerns were raised to Comelec from the first day of the voting period. However, according to LCSG, there was no response from the commission until after the results came out.

The LaSallian has also reached out to Comelec about SE-related concerns but they have yet to respond.

Jezah Mae Bagsit

By Jezah Mae Bagsit

Alecxis Bianca Libang

By Alecxis Bianca Libang

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