THE UST Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) has vowed to shore up election activities this year and plans to hold mandatory debates ahead of the upcoming University-wide elections.

The debate, dubbed “Harapan,” will require candidates for the Central Student Council elections to answer “issue-based” questions, Central Comelec Chairwoman Alyssa Arreola told the Varsitarian. The debate will be held on April 12 to 14.

One issue to be tackled is the long-delayed Students’ Code.

“We will adopt the same strategy at the national level. But it will be student-centered,” Comelec Vice Chairman Raymond John Naguit said in an interview.

The Central Comelec wants to maintain the 69-percent voter turnout last year, the highest in eight years.

“We’re really happy na ‘yung mga Thomasians mas nai-involve na sila when it comes to elections and sana ma-sustain pa this year,” Naguit said.

The filing of certificate of candidacies will be on March 29 and the announcement of the list of final candidates is on April 2.

Only Lakas Tomasino Coalition and Lakas ng Diwang Tomasino (Lakasdiwa) are the University-wide political parties accredited by the Central Comelec. The registration of Alyansa ng Kristiyanong Lakas was cancelled for the second straight year due to its failure to “field official candidates in the last two preceding elections,” as stated in Section 9, Article V of the UST Students’ Election Code of 2011.

Lakasdiwa Chairwoman Bianca de Ramos said the party was in the process of preparing its candidates.

“We want to give the Thomasian community the best pool of candidates and obviously, this will take time and a whole lot of effort,” de Ramos said in a text message.

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Lakas Tomasino Chairwoman Annika Alcala also said in a text message they were also preparing for the upcoming elections.

More election officers needed

Arreola said the election code could be revised next year, saying a restructuring of the organization was needed. Naguit said more election officers were needed.

“We’re planning na maging mas malaki [ang Comelec] so that more leaders will be trained in terms of election management. ‘Yung Comelec naman ngayon [mas maraming] ginagawa, hindi na lang election management, but also advocacy work na rin sa national level,” Naguit said.

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