Santugon comes back with four EB seats, Tapat narrowly retains majority

Santugon clawed their way back after past issues to win four of five seats in the USG executive board, while Tapat protects its collegiate strongholds.

Marking their electoral return after not fielding candidates last year over red-tagging allegations against their rival, Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) took over four of the five elected positions in the University Student Government (USG) Executive Board (EB) against an undermanned Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat), who won the executive treasurer position through a win by Juliana Meneses.

Tapat, however, remained unrivaled in the Laguna Campus, with the campus’ sole runner Nauj Agbayani sealing the campus presidency. Despite the EB results, Special Elections (SE) 2023 finished tipping slightly in favor of the red party, who seized 38 seats, while Santugon won 33. Thirteen seats remain vacant as of writing and are yet to be filled up through appointments.

Voting for SE 2023 was held online through an automated voting system in Canvas, which may be a factor in this year’s 62.9-percent turnout, translating to 14,782 out of 23,491 voters. 

Contrary to previous elections, the turnout in all colleges in the Manila Campus quickly crossed the validation mark within four days, while the Laguna Campus took five days. This also marks the highest voter participation in major USG elections since General Elections 2014, which had a slightly lower turnout at 62.05 percent.

Santugon almost swept the executive board, while Tapat kept the majority of other seats.

Slightly redder

College presidential seats were split between the two parties. Tapat secured four colleges: College of Liberal Arts (CLA), College of Science (COS), Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education (BAGCED), and the School of Economics (SOE). Santugon took the rest.

Santugon maintained their influence in their strongholds and largely dominated the votes for batch governments in the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, and the College of Computer Studies. Meanwhile, Tapat held on to their strong influence over BAGCED, COS, and SOE and continued its newfound momentum in the Gokongwei College of Engineering.

The Legislative Assembly remains Tapat-dominated in this year’s USG after the party won 12 of the 19 seats with runners. Freshmen batches also voted mostly in favor of Tapat this year, similar to last year, handing the red party 13 of the 18 seats for freshman batch governments.

A barrage of issues

Unlike last year’s quiet campaign period, SE 2023 was mired with familiar controversies. Ina Peñaflor, Moi Pulumbarit, and Jimson Salapantan from Tapat were deemed unqualified to run for their supposed EB positions due to “corrupted soft copies of EAF and IDs.” They were temporarily allowed to run due to a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the USG Judiciary upon the DLSU Commission on Elections (Comelec), but it was eventually lifted when the party withdrew the initial motion that allowed for the TRO. Santugon also sought to overturn Comelec’s decision to deny the certificate of their CATCH2T26 vice presidential bet, but the court dismissed their petition due to lack of merit.

Tapat took another blow over allegations of sexual assault on social media against their CATCH2T26 batch vice presidential runner Jeck Sanchez, whose candidacy was eventually withdrawn from the ballots. Candidates from both parties took to Facebook to express their support for the victims and address the controversy at hand. Tapat is no stranger to this kind of controversy, with their former candidate facing similar allegations during General Elections 2021.

Members under the red banner, who were unable to run for positions in BLAZE2025, were also scrutinized over leaked messages involving defamatory statements against their Santugon counterparts. For this, Santugon President Manolo Enriquez criticized Tapat, expressing, “Just because you were deemed unqualified to be a candidate does not give you the right to bring down those who are.”

Tina Erquiaga, part of the supposed slate, clarified in a Facebook post that their messages were not meant to promote abstention. She then went on to defend the students’ rights to abstain and expressed that they “stand by the rights of free assembly and discussion.”

Now Vice President for External Affairs-elect Macie Tarnate was also under fire for some of her answers in interviews with The LaSallian and Ang Pahayagang Plaridel. Tarnate initially responded positively to the Philippines’ abstention to the ceasefire in Gaza but recanted it shortly after the release of the interview, explaining that she missed the word “abstention” due to “mental exhaustion from the last few days.” She also clarified her answer on setting a price ceiling for rice. Tarnate explained she agreed with the general idea of the policy but not in the context of how it was implemented by the current administration.

Even plans put forth by the candidates were unsafe from criticism, as Tapat and Santugon accused each other of plagiarizing past plans of action. Outgoing FAST2020 Batch Legislator Marianne Era, who then ran under Tapat, accused Santugon’s Ienne Mondero and Franky Alejo of plagiarism for allegedly copying her platform, “FAST Forward,” with “almost the same description and goal.” Montero clarified that the similarity in the title is a coincidence and that their platforms will be implemented differently.

Tapat’s plan of action, “COB Central,” was also accused of plagiarism for having the same title as a project under the ANGAT coalition last Make-Up Elections 2022. Then RVRCOB college presidential candidate Michelle Engbino explained in response that the two projects are entirely different, with theirs focusing on centralizing communications between RVRCOB units and ANGAT’s on gearing students for external opportunities.

Bea Francine Isuga

By Bea Francine Isuga

Dave Russel Ramos

By Dave Russel Ramos

Leave a Reply