Central Student Council vice presidential bet Gerald Matthew de la Cruz (center) answers questions from the Thomasian community asked by Tagisan 2021 hosts Laurence Macabenta (left) and Gianna Soreta (right). (Photo grabed from the Tagisan livestream)

THE UST Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday apologized for its failure to filter a “controversial” question directed to a UST Central Student Council (CSC) candidate during the “Tagisan 2021” debate. 

The Central Comelec said in a statement it would monitor election and campaign-related events more closely to prevent similar incidents in the future. 

“The Commission apologizes for the oversight in filtering out a controversial question that was asked during the Mandatory Debate held last 30th of April, Friday. The Commission will take necessary actions to mitigate the damage it may have caused on individuals or people concerned,” the statement read.   

Other CSC bets lauded the Comelec’s effort to take responsibility for the incident involving vice presidential bet Gerald Matthew de la Cruz, but criticized its statement for vagueness.  

Public relations officer (PRO) candidate Jerome Espinas said the statement lacked context on the dangers of red-baiting.

“We appreciate Comelec’s statement as a form of taking responsibility for what happened in  #Tagisan2021 but there was no mention of how dangerous and sensitive red-tagging is nor a reference to preceding cases of hostility towards those who are tagged,” he said.

Jeric Mataga, another PRO candidate, also said the Comelec should have addressed “red-tagging” in its statement.

“Glad to see some accountability from Comelec, though I wish they mentioned that the incident had some red-tagging involved,” he said in a Facebook post.

On May 2, de la Cruz released an online statement addressing the red-baiting question and urged Thomasians not to be afraid and to continue to speak up. 

“Gamitin natin ang ating mga plataporma bilang mga lider-estudyante para patuloy na magsalita para sa katotohanan at magbigay impormasyon sa mga kapwa nating Pilipino sa ating kasalukuyang sitwasyon,” de la Cruz said. 

During the Tagisan 2021 debates, de la Cruz was forced to respond to a query that called into question his fitness for the post due to previous allegations made against him. 

The question asked was: “You have been red-tagged multiple times and posted publicly (sic) for shame (sic) you bring to the University. Why are you running now?”

De la Cruz said that he still ran for the post because he wanted his vision for the students to be realized and achieved.

“Kinikilala natin ang epekto ng red-tagging sa isang tao… Malaki [ang] epekto nito hindi lang sa safety kundi sa mental na kapasidad ng tao,” de la Cruz said.

“Nakikita natin na bina-box tayo ng mga ilang indibidwal na kapag tayo ay nag-iisip o nagpapahayag ng opinyon natin sa kamalian ng gobyerno ay narered-tag tayo at hindi nila itinataas ang diskurso para pag-usapan ang totoong isyu sa lipunan, [pero] ‘di dapat tayo matakot,” he added.

PRO candidate Gabriele de Lara said the question was “insensitive.”

Thomasians who tuned into the debates also criticized the event organizers for letting the question slip.

All six CSC bets are in favor of passing a national bill against red-tagging.


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