EMBATTLED UST Faculty Union President Gil Gamilla clinched his third victory in the union elections last February 26, extending his 14-year leadership for another five years.

This, even if non-tenured faculty members were allowed to vote in the elections, and despite the P9.5 million fund mess his administration is facing.

Achievers Party standard-bearer Gamilla beat philosophy professor Jove Jim Aguas of Truth, Accountability, Participation, Advancement, Transparency (TAPAT) party by a slight difference of 23 votes. Gamilla got 503 votes, while Aguas had only 480. Forty faculty members abstained.

The highest discrepancy in votes came from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery where Gamilla, a professor in the faculty, got 163 votes, with Aguas having only 10.

Election chair Elvira Milo said election returns from Medicine, the Faculty of Engineering and the College of Rehabilitation Sciences broke Aguas’ early lead from Gamilla.

“Aguas was ahead of the doctor when we were counting the first ballot boxes,” Milo said. “Gamilla just overtook him when the last three ballot boxes were counted.”

Non-tenured or tenure-track faculty members were allowed to vote in the polls despite Gamilla’s earlier claim that such is a violation of the union’s constitution and by-laws.

“I think nobody will question it (victory) anymore. Even the ‘extendees’ were allowed to vote,” Gamilla said, referring to faculty members aged beyond 65-years-old who still teach.

Milo said the decision to let tenure-track faculty members vote was reached through a consensus.

“Both local and central [union] Comelec (Commission on Elections) decided on this. All sides were heard,” she said.

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Even with the loss of its presidential bet, TAPAT emerged as the majority in the union board after sweeping 12 of the 22 positions.

Winners were TAPAT candidates Partick Go as internal vice president, James Platon (vice president for labor and education), Reynaldo Reyes (vice president for grievance), Noel Asiones (vice president for legal affairs), Evangeline Timbang (secretary general), Myrna de Vera (public relations officer), and Rene Tadle (sergeant-at-arms). Board members Maria Rosario Garcia, Rebecca Adri, Recto Calingasan, Teresita Manasala, and Gemma Aboy were also elected.

Achievers had George Lim as executive vice president, Rebecca Castro (internal vice president), Aurora Domingo (treasurer), Marie Anne Guanzon (auditor), and Leticia del Rosario, Alberto Paulino, Revenvenido Vargas, Maria Corazon Unas, and Beatriz Ribleza as board members. Go, Reyes, Asiones, Guanzon, and De Vera were uncontested in their respective positions.

Electoral reforms

Outgoing vice president for grievance Jose Ngo said it was “about time to introduce political reforms.”

“I believe that electoral reforms should be introduced, to see to it that colleges with big population of voters will not overwhelm other colleges,” Ngo said. “It might be that only few colleges will be voting for you, yet you would still win because your college has a very big population.”

He said Medicine professors probably voted according to their profession, and not based on the issues that hounded the present administration.

“All the doctors won, except for [Elvis] Llanera, whose rival candidate is also a doctor (Lim). So what would that indicate?” Ngo asked.

Medicine professor Melinda Atienza said Ngo’s statement was “unfair.”

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“[We voted for Gamilla] because we believe in his achievement, and not [because of] personality,” Atienza said.

Ngo is one of the nine union officers that demanded accountability from Gamilla and union vice president Gil Garcia on the alleged illegal disbursement of P9.5 million worth of union funds to Saturn Resources Inc., a property developer supposed to build condominium units for the UST faculty in 2006.

Ngo said the “call for fidelity” won’t stop even with Gamilla’s victory.

“[The fight] will be continued by the winning candidates of TAPAT until we get back the P9.5 million [in union funds] lent to Villamor,” he said, referring to Mario Villamor, president of Saturn Resources.

In an interview after the counting of votes last February 26, Gamilla vowed to address the “mess” that had prompted some faculty members to demand his ouster.

“Definitely, we will correct all these things,” he said. Earlier, Gamilla said he was seeking re-election to clear his name.

For his part, Aguas thanked all faculty members who voted for him.

“I am honored by your trust and confidence. I truly believed that your vote is more of a vote for change, for betterment, and for the ideal and values that I stood for,” Aguas said in a statement. Cliff Harvey C. Venzon with reports from Prinz P. Magtulis

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