ALL CANDIDATES running for this year’s Central Student Council (CSC) Executive Board polls are independent bets, a trend which experts say is due to the imminent fear of political parties that voters have lost confidence in a party-run council. 

Amr Solon Sison, who teaches political science in the University, said Thomasians are seen to be doubtful of a party-dominated council due to unfelt and ineffective leadership.

“Party politics in the University has lost its luster due to weak delivery of services from previous administrations which are party-dominated,” Sison told the Varsitarian in an online interview.

Sison added that running as independent would stop traditional party politics, allowing independent bets to gain ground in student elections.

Popular parties Lakas ng Diwang Tomasino (Lakasdiwa) and Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) will not be seen in the campaign for this year’s CSC polls. 

Lakasdiwa failed to field candidates during the filing of certificate of candidacies last March 21, while LTC, whose candidates once dominated the CSC, was suspended  by the UST Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) for violating online campaigning rules in last year’s elections.

Dennis Coronacion, UST Department of Political Science chairman, said Thomasians are fed up with political parties and now prefer independent bets.

Ang nakikita kong explanation kung bakit mas prefer ng Thomasians ang independent candidates is students are fed up with student political parties and they want an alternative,” Coronacion told the Varsitarian.

Coronacion explained that this current situation can be linked to strict policies implemented by the Comelec, which has “weakened” the appeal of student parties to voters.

“The election body’s role is not to weaken student parties. […] [Comelec] should not portray the student political parties as recidivist that would disenchant student voters,” Coronacion said.

Coronacion added that “trivial” requirements such as photocopies of identification cards were the common problems for cancelled accreditation.

Some of the recurring issues which can be identified with the decline of political parties are problems on membership and the failure of party members to secure a spot in the council, Sison said.

Last election season, a total of 13 candidates eyed seats in the CSC Executive Board, of which included bets from Lakasdiwa and LTC.

In the 2017 elections, most Thomasians chose to reject candidates in four out of six positions in the CSC Executive Board, while two independents won secretary and public relations officer. 

‘Improve platforms’

Party bets must improve their platforms and campaign strategies to restore their appeal to Thomasian voters and face independent bets in the next elections, Coronacion said.

“There is a dominance of independent candidates because it is more appealing to Thomasian voters, who have become irritated with the campaign styles of student political parties,” he said.

Coronacion added that CSC candidates should aim for projects that promote students’ welfare and rights rather than organizing concerts.

Sison said parties could improve on platforms that focus on students’ key issues to return in the CSC elections.

“By having a more platform-driven approach, this might bring sensible policy outcome on the side of CSC. Kung baga hindi na lang sila matatawag na events organizer lang,” he said.

Comelec Chairman Arvin Bersonda echoed Sison, saying “candidates must run because of genuine intentions and purely out of service for the student body.”

‘Party member turned independent’

Students should be watchful of independent candidates who were former members of unaccredited political parties, Bersonda said.

“Unless there is a filed complaint saying the independent candidate is working underground [in a political party] and with concrete evidence supporting their claims, there will be grounds for suspension,” he said.

Ivan Pulangco, Comelec’s secretary to the adjucatory, said the Comelec cannot initiate investigations on independent candidates without sufficient evidence presenting affiliations on other parties.

“We need an evidence [showing the candidates’ affiliations.] Unless an evidence is presented, we cannot act,” he said during a press conference last March 23.

Coronacion lamented that former party members turned independents could deceive student voters such as promoting fake promises during their campaign.

“When [independent bets who have undeclared affiliations with former parties] get elected, that’s the time they will show their true political colors. If they promise these [projects] during elections, it would be very easy for them to forget their promises kasi they are bound by the party decision,” he said.

Article 5, Section 3 of the 2011 UST Students’ Election Code (Usec) mandates the conduct of independent candidates acting as a political party where candidates must not use campaign materials that are distinctly similar from other candidates.

Article 5, Section 7(d) of the Usec states the recognition of students’ right to resign from a political party to form a new one but should not be associated to any suspended party.


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