CSC bets square off in annual mandatory debate

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CANDIDATES for the Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board highlighted their platforms and stances on national and campus issues during the annual mandatory debate on April 13 at the Plaza Mayor.

Sole presidential bet Robert Dominic Gonzales vowed to continue the fight for the passage of the long-delayed Students’ Code by “elevating the battle of the code to the Academic Senate.”

Outgoing CSC officers said it was a first in 14 years that the code reached the Council of Regents in November of last year.

Gonzales, the council secretary, said the cause of the decline in the number of students running for positions in this year’s elections might have been the decline of Thomasians’ trust on student leaders.

“Hindi ako naniniwalang apathetic ang mga Thomasians, natatakot lamang silang kumilos,” said Gonzales.

The Medicine sophomore also backed the reduction of academic load for students to promote mental health. He admitted, however, that this might lengthen the years of study.

“Kung papahabain ang taon ng pag-aaral natin, mas magkakaroon tayo ng focus sa kung ano ‘yung dapat pag-aralan,” Gonzales said. “Hindi ‘yong itatambak natin iyon sa iisang taon na parang lima ang major subjects mo [tapos ang] oras mo sa pamilya mo, para sa sarili mo, nawawala na. That’s why I don’t see anything wrong with lengthening the years of education.”

Gonzales also said he had talked to the administrators of the UST Health Service regarding student grievances of students on its services.

A report by the Varsitarian in February revealed that the Health Service ranked the lowest in support services in the University, registering an average score of 2.70. It was thr only support office that received a rating below 3.00 in key performance rubrics provided in the annual satisfaction survey.

“Tinanong ko na ‘yong office ng Health Sevice kung ano ba ang problema, nalaman ko na kulang sila sa staff at maliit ang kanilang lugar. Kaya hinikayat ko [sila] na idala sa administrative offices ang concerns nila,” said Gonzales.

No to mandatory ROTC
CSC bets also opposed the proposal to make the Reserved Offices’ Training Corps (ROTC) a mandatory subject for Senior High School students, citing the brutal muder of Thomasian Mark Welson Chua in 2001 by his co-cadets.

“Tutol ako sa mandatory ROTC dahil right natin mamili kung saan natin matututuhan ang patriotism at nationalism, sa paraan na mas marami tayong matututuhan,” Nicholas Sia, Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) candidate for secretary said.

Bricio said the call to stop it should be heard by the UST administration and the Commission on Higher Education.

“Tutol tayo sa mandatory ROTC dahil binabalewala [nito] ang nangyari kay Mark Welson Chua na namatay dahil sa korapsiyon sa ROTC,” Bricio said.

In 2001, the body of 21-year-old Chua was found floating in the Pasig River, wrapped in a carpet and his face covered in duct tape. This was after he exposed corruption and irregularities in UST’s ROTC program. His death led to the removal of mandatory ROTC and the passage of the National Service Training Program law.

“Dapat i-lobby agad natin ito sa Central Board at sa administrative offices dahil maraming violations pa ang pwedeng mangyari kapag naging mandatory na ang ROTC sa Unibersidad,” Rafael said.

Responsive student council
Candidates for secretary–the only position in the council to have more than one bet–vowed for a more responsive council on issues beyond UST.

“Personally, bukod sa pagpo-proseso ng mga papel, ang maio-offer ko pa sa Thomasian community ay ang… pagigging boses ko para sa mga oppressed,” Bricio said.

Rafael said he was able to relay the concerns of the masses and would continue to do so, citing his experience as a former member of progressive organizations Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students.

“Naiparating ko na kung ano ang hinaing ng masa. Bababa tayo sa masa, lalahok tayo sa mga diskursong panlipunan,” said Rafael.

Sia said the essence of a student council is to become the voice of the student body.

“Bilang [miyembro ng] executive board, nasa duty at responsibilidad [ko] na ang pagprotekta sa mga karapatan ng mga estudyante at hindi [ko] na siya dapat gawin pang plataporma,” said Sia.

The option of “Abstain” will not be available on the ballot, in compliance with the Central Judiciary Board’s order in 2017.

Room-to-room campaigning ended on April 13 while online campaigning ended on April 21.

Elections in local and central student councils will start on April 23 and end on 27.

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