The following is a transcript of the HERALDO FILIPINO’s interview with SENTRO La Salle’s candidates for the University Student Council.
SENTRO La Salle’s USC Candidates are:
President: Maria Klara Valdez
Vice President: Risstin Limalima
Secretary: Gelo Dela Cruz
Treasurer: Kim Sierra
Auditor: Karel Sayo
Business Manager: Bien Arcilla
Public Relations Officer: Timothy Dumasig
GIVEN THE SHORT TIME SPAN OF BEING PROCLAIMED FOR THE SNAP ELECTION, HOW CAN YOU ENSURE THAT YOU ARE TOTALLY READY TO SERVE THE STUDENTS?
Dela Cruz (USC Secretary): So what we did is since I ran for COEdSC president, ‘yong platform ko[ng] for COEd, ginawa ko pong University-wide. Aside from that, we asked the students online kung anoang nakikita nilang issue or mga gustong improvement. Tapos we think of all the possible answers nila beforehand bago ako mag-post tapos ginawa po namin, inuupan namin siya nung Friday kasabay po nung revision ng POA (Plan of Action) ko sa COEd. Ginawa na po siyang University-wide.
Valdez (USC President): Even if we weren’t proclaimed in the first place, that didn’t stop us from gathering information on how we can make the school better so we were still hoping that we would still be given a chance to serve the students even if not through this election exactly.
HOW IMPORTANT FOR YOU IS RUNNING AND WINNING IN THE ELECTIONS, RATHER THAN BEING APPOINTED?
Valdez (USC President): Well, constitutionally, it says that the USC officers have to be elected at large so if we go by appointment, that actually supports some kind of unconstitutionalized or you know, it’s not what this law states. Our laws govern our powers, so if we don’t follow these laws, then we think that our personality is above the law.
Dela Cruz (USC Secretary): Siyempre iba pa rin kapag hinalal ka ng student kaysa in-appoint ka lang ng certain persons kasi parang ang nangyayari sa appointment is consensus with the current LB (Legislative Board) and then ‘yong parang adviser or recommendation from other offices. So parang kapag you were elected, there are students already believing in you and the school knows that you are really passionate for that. However, I’m not saying na pag appointed ka, ‘di ka passionate. Yes you’re passionate, however, the students do not know you in the first place. Parang they would be shocked like “Oh siya na pala‘yong ano” although that person can prove himself along the journey nung pag-upo niya. So ‘yon ‘yong nakikita kong advantage. Students will already know about you and your platforms for the whole academic year.
Sayo (USC Auditor): Kapag eleksiyon kasi, firsthand yong students. Kunyari, ito talaga ‘yong gusto [ng students]. ‘Yong sa kanila (students) galing talaga—sa decisions nila or sabi ng utak nila. Sabi ng puso nila na, “Ito, okay ‘tong maging leader.” Willing talaga na ‘yong buong student body. Kapag appointed, it’s like galing sa small body lang na ito, okay ‘to. Parang ang basis ng pumipili is ‘yong alam niya pero other doon sa alam ng buong student body na majority talaga.
WHAT PRESSING CAMPUS ISSUES DO YOU THINK NEEDS MORE ATTENTION THAN ANYTHING ELSE RIGHT NOW?
Limalima (USC Vice President): As a vice president, my position muna for now or ‘yong pinaka-concern ko is ‘yong tuition fee increase. I am in favor of tuition increase—but with reservations. I am in favor pero dapat puwede tayo makapag-compromise. Kasi ‘di ba ang nakalagay is 5 percent increase ang plan, so I think it is high and there are other ways to budget our expenditures, like, cut-cost. Example, during evaluation with the professors ‘diba we still use papers. And ilang professors ang mayroon tayo sa ating college? Ilang students ‘yong kailangang magsagot no’n? And siguro kahit sabihin nating paper lang ‘yon, pero malaki rin ‘yon e. May budget din ‘yon e, so siguro example lang‘ yon to cut cost and to prevent that high na tuition fee increase.
Dela Cruz (USC Secretary): So in addition to what she said, since paper, parang sinasabi na sa papers na so sinasabihan tayong we’re the greenest university in the Philippines and 50th in the world and 10th in Asia. So what I’m thinking is cut of cost. I-maximize natin ‘yong paggamit ng Schoolbook, portals, since ‘yon talaga ‘yong parang sinasabing “in” sa school. And what I think is the most pressing issue sa university is ‘yong pakikialam ng student, direct participation ng student when it comes policy-makings, events na gusto nila, kasi what I observed nanangyari is ‘yong gusto lang ng current nanakaupo without asking the students what they need, what they want, their interests, kaya minsan‘yong mga events nag-fe-fail. Not really fail. Fail in a sense na kaunti lang uma-attend, ‘di beneficial kasi the students cannot see the benefits of that event. Anong makukuha nila in return ‘cause they’re paying for the events so they really cannot get the sense of the event ‘yong parang makapag-event lang.
Dumasig (USC PRO): Sa akin, nakikita ko is lack of communication do’n sa leaders sa students. For example, may events, mga ibang opportunities for the students na ang hirap i-communicate [dahil] sa lack of interest ng students na pumunta sila sa mga gano’n. Kapag nagla-lack sila ng interest, parang nag-fa-fail‘yong events, walang pumupunta, nabo-boring-an ‘yong mga tao.
Sierra (USC Treasurer): So dagdag ko lang sa kaniya ‘yong lack of communication. Maganda kasi pag ‘yong ginagawa ng council in favor talaga ‘yong mag estudyante, so maganda kung naririnig muna natin ‘yong mga gusto nila mangyari or makitang pagbabago ditto sa University para ‘yong budget talaga natin ma-maximize at magamit talaga kung saan magbe-benefit ‘yong mga estudyante.
WHAT QUALITIES OF THIS YEAR’S USC NEEDS IMPROVEMENT NEXT SCHOOL YEAR? AND HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DO THIS?
Valdez (USC President): Well I don’t know if there’s an exact word for “presence” I think? Because other than—okay, these officers the incumbent right now, they were appointed so that means they weren’t elected so the students didn’t vote for them. And above that, they don’t know them and well, even if they had introduced themselves to the students through their online platforms, they have pictures on the bulletin board, I think, they had a shortcoming in expressing their ideals and overall vision in mind for our University.
Sierra (USC Treasurer): Siguro din po‘yong unity sa council kasi po mahirap kapag iba-iba kayo ng sinasabi or baka ‘yong visions, maganda rin siguro kung mayroon kayong isa. Dapat naman ‘yong USC, so mayroon kayong one goal. So maganda kapag ‘yon sama-sama kayo do’n sa goal na‘yon, sa pag-abot ng goal na‘yon, at tsaka dapat marunong makisamasa mga officers.
Dela Cruz (USC Secretary): Karagdagan lang, aside dun, ‘yong transparency nila sa isa’t isa. Nabasa ko kasi sa paper from HERALDO FILIPINO, nag-usap daw‘yong Legislative Board without the president, e ‘di ba nasa USC Constitution kailangan president nag-pe-preside ng meeting so parang naba-bypass siya. Kumbaga, gumagawa sila ng action without the knowing no’ng president which for me is very wrong so kailangan transparent tayo sa bawat isa ‘cause we’re one in the council. So kapag gano’n nangyayari, how much more ‘yong service na maibibigay natin sa students? Puro bypassed na lang, ‘di tayo nagkakaisa, so ayon ang nakita kong issue.
Sayo (USC Auditor): In addition doon sa transparency, marami akong naririnig na mga sabi na ang mahal-mahal ng tuition naming wala naming ganap. Tapos paulit-ulit lang ‘yong walang ganap tapos pamahal ng pamahal ‘yong tuition fee nila. So bakit hindi mapa-feel sa students na “Ah okay, kaya pala mahal tuition fee ko kasi may ganyang event na it was meaningful, it was useful for us.” Tapos i-add ko lang na magaling ‘yong USC today, of course. Pero parang nakilala ko lang ‘yong USC (2016-2017) no’ng nag-resign na si ganito si ganiyan, na “Ah USC pala siya.” Tapos noong nagpalit na sila ng DP parang “Uy second sem na, ay kayo pala‘yon.” Sana mas maaga kong nalaman na sila pala ‘yon para kilala ko kung sino ‘yong nagli-lead sa amin.
Limalima (USC Vice President): So ‘yon nga dadagdag ko do’n sa sinabi niya, connect din—’yong service nila for the benefits of the students. Kasi I stand for students’ balanced life and siguro mapapansin nga natin na parang ‘yong seminars nila ‘di naman nag-be-benefit for the students or there are projects na ‘di din naman talaga napupuntahan ng mga students so parang siguro may kulang sila. As in parang may kulang sila na hindi nila maibigay ‘yong gusto ng mga students. Kasi ako, I stand for balanced students’ life so gusto ko—parang ipasok natin ‘yong hamburger system. There are events, there are seminars that will benefit their knowledge, then events din na matutuwa sila kasi I don’t want na nandito sila sa loob ng campus just to study na na i-stress sila sa study, study, study lang. I want them to gain friendship din ditto sa loob.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC PLAN FOR EACH COLLEGE IN THE UNIVERSITY AND IF SO, WHAT ARE THEY?
Valdez (USC President): We have a lot of plans actually but not all of them in all colleges at once. For example we have outreach projects that involve Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in which we plan to partner up with CCJE and we have plans to have another outreach in which to reach out to less fortunate communities and teach them hygiene which we will tie up with CSCS. And we are hoping to have our Bamboo Bike initiative which we hope to tie up with CEAT. And then for CLAC, we were hoping to empower them further with a University-wide awarding body for Philippine movies and television. For the COED, we were hoping to have a peer tutorial program where we can—well it’s voluntary and originally, it was planned to target the varsity for our University who have struggles in balancing their student life and varsity life. And, well yes CTHM we’re also inviting them for a Buwan ng Wika collaboration because we understand that they’re the most knowledgeable in addressing the beauty of our country and our traditions and whatnot.With the CBAA, we are hoping to invite them and the rest of the other colleges and interested students to our hopefully, if we are able to establish the independent body,we would like to address as the commission on transparency.
WHAT WILL YOU DO TO ERADICATE STUDENT PASSIVITY IN THE UNIVERSITY?
Dumasig (USC PRO): So ‘yon nga, parang mas maganda siguro kung i-reach-out mo or para encourage them to vote kasi para sa kanila din naman‘yong mangayayring election.
Limalima (USC Vice President): We started kanina, isa rin sa ginagawa namin ngayon is person to person campaign since we don’t have time, ‘di kami binigyan ng opportunity to campaign room-to-room. So nagpe-person-to-person kami. We’re not giving any papers or what na—gusto naming makipag-communicatesastudents and we’re asking them kung anong gusto nilang mga mabago. Gusto naming marinig ‘yong mga hinaing nila. So nagpapakilala kami personally and sana with that, natutulungan naming sila na ma-push sila mag-vote this coming Wednesday.
Dela Cruz (USC Secretary): In addition, sa tingin ko kaya kaunti lang ‘yong students na bumoto eh dahil tinamad sila. First of all, kasi isa lang ‘yong tumatakbo so parang nakita nila, “Hala, ba’t pa ako boboto automatic naman nang mananalo ‘yan.” Ganon‘yong mindset nila. So ang nakikita kong parang way is to have them realize their right na‘yong boto mo can make a change. For example, isang party lang tumatakbo, that doesn’t mean na panalo na agad sila ‘cause we have the vote of confidence. Although pinaliwanag naman siya nung kabilang partylist, I’m not just sure kung na-reach siya individually nung mga students. Kasi not all students are active online cause we have thesis, paper works, a lot of friends, gala, so sa tingin ko kailangan we have to have the students realize ‘yong about sa VOC (vote of confidence) at ‘yong nangyari nga sa elections at kung paano maaapektuhan‘yong next academic year when it comes sa nangyaring elections this year.
Valdez (USC President): I guess it’s all about giving the students something to care about. A lot of students here know that this is the second time that SENTRO had gotten into struggle with the elections. So like I always tell with my slate when it comes to the elections is that, second chances are only given to those who deserve it. So we’re not wasting any time on it, so here we are, doing our best to give the students something to care about.
WHAT IS YOUR STANCE ON HAVING A STANCE REGARDING SOCIAL ISSUES?
Valdez (USC President): We all have certain stance on certain issues.
Dela Cruz (USC Secretary): For example, pinapakita po na hindi lang in campus issue knowledgeable ‘yong student council, kailangan knowledgeable din siya when it comes to issues outside the campus. Kasi at the end of the day, ‘yong mga issue na ‘yan na nakapaligid sa University natin, maaapektuhan tayo. Although we have our own laws in the university, our own ways and beliefs in our lives, kapag lumabas tayo ng University, we’re now living in the outside world at hindi sa loob ng University. So kailangan aware tayo sa nangyayari kasi malay mo ‘yong EJK nga, malay mo ma-tokhang ka na dyan sa labas.
Sierra (USC Treasurer): Preparation din po kasi siya para sa outside. Para aware na po tayo sa nangyayari sa labas kasi Filipinos po tayo so dapat we are educated and vigilant to what is happening in our country.
Dela Cruz (USC Secretary): Kapag nalaman din ng student‘yong isang taong may stand, the student will believe na “Ay kaya niya akong ipaglaban. Kung ‘yong stand ko nga naipaglalaban, ako pa kaya.” Parang sa love lang, kung alam mong kaya kang ipaglaban nung tao, siyempre you will feel appreciated and loved. Parang gano’n lang siya.
Valdez (USC President): So essentially, we aren’t students forever, just like what they’re talking about, at the end of the day, we leave the campus,), we graduate, we get kicked out or whatever. But our world isn’t just within the boundaries of this campus, so we can’t just care about things going on in here but as we know sometimes students do not care about what is going on in here, so what do you think they would know outside? What they need to see is that there are people who understand what’s going on inside and who are determined to fight for their beliefs on what’s going on outside. So that way, they know that we aren’t just students, but we are student-leaders, and that means taking initiative, it means defending what you know is right, and having the guts to back up what you believe in.
We asked the same question to USC Sinag Political Party candidates, and they said that DLSU-D is a conservative University so we should follow a conservative mindset as well. What is your response to that?
Valdez (USC President): I think being conservative is different from being naïve. Because even the most conservative people know that—let’s go back to classic Filipino tradition. Conservative Filipinos—you can’t show skin, you can’t be malandi and stuff like that. So that means they’re taking a stand against being liberal. You can say that, they’re being conservative, but they just don’t realize that being conservative is a stance as well, right? So, yes we are a conservative university but our core values here have to reflect what we defend as student leaders.
Dela Cruz (USC Secretary): Ang nakikita ko kasing pangamba ng DLSU-D is baka masira ‘yong image. So what I’m thinking is we will have a stand, however, we will be more careful in using the choice of words. Kasi I’m a language student so we’re translating, we’re deciphering ‘yong mga text. So I believe kapag maganda ‘yong choice of words, ‘yong wala kang natatamaan at nakikita ‘yong clear intention mo to your stand, I think DLSU-D will support as long as wala kang natatapakang iba at walang mag-ba-backfire sa image ng La Salle. Kasi ayon ‘yong kinakatakot ng admin din, what I think, ‘yong mag-backfire sa La Salle since we’re level 4 accredited by PAAASCU. Marami tayong 100 percent passing rate especially sa CBAA. ‘Yong COED ay Center of Excellence tapos biglang ganon ‘yong mga stand, “Ay ayoko ng mga ganyan ganyan” balahura pa ‘yong pagpo-post at choice of words. So dapat ganon tlaga, ‘yong stand mo dapat backed up with documents, with knowledge, and with intelligence. So kailangan you have to be careful, to be knowledgeable, of what you’re saying online cause social media is very powerful as well as it’s very influential to every individual nowadays.
IF ELECTED, WHAT IS THE FIRST CAMPUS ISSUE THAT YOU WILL ADDRESS?
Valdez (USC President): I think our first move would be to reestablish the USC Constitution. Since its last amendment in 2013, we’ve experienced lots of changes such as the adjustment of the AY which created a very big hole in the Constitution. Because according to our Constitution, the term of the council officers is from the first day of May until the last day of April. However, since the AY has adjusted, that change of term is within the 2nd semester. In the original USC Consti, it was supposed to align in the summer so it’s allowing the officers to adjust without classes. So right now, essentially, we’re not supposed to be having any officers because no one’s elected and the previous term ended and expired. That’s one of the things we’ll be doing—we’ll be clearing out some of the loopholes inside the USC Consti. Even Sinag agrees that our laws govern and limit our power. So if these laws have certain loopholes, that means there are really ways that the students can get away with abusing it.
WHAT IS A LEADER?
Dumasig (USC PRO): Hindi lang siya ‘yong nag-uutos kundi siya ‘yong tumutulong sa tao niya—isa siya sa mga gumagawa para maiangat ‘yong tao niya. A leader is the one who’s not afraid to make mistakes but is afraid not to try things to be successful.
Sayo (USC Auditor): A leader accepts differences and understands diverse ideas.
Sierra (USC Treasurer): A leader is resilient.
Dela Cruz (USC Secretary): A leader is a listener who can sympathize with what the students need, can understand and value diversity, and learn to celebrate it.
Limalima (USC Vice President): A leader promotes student welfare.
Valdez (USC President): A leader is someone who was chosen by the students, to be with the students—not to be above them or to serve below them—SENTRO lang.