For its pilot episode, The Benildean’s new web program “Between The Lines” sat down with Benilde Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairperson Ef Aguilar to confirm rumors of the dissolvement of all three political parties in the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
According to Aguilar, political parties SINAG Benildyano, 1SENTRO, and TAYO have all been dissolved after failing to comply with the requirements set by the COMELEC (60% of their accreditation) and Student Activities Unit (40% of their accreditation) of the Student Involvement Office under the Department of Student Life.
The COMELEC Chairperson shared that 1SENTRO failed to reach the required number of members, SINAG Benildyano lacked points regarding their accomplished projects, and TAYO did not submit any requirements.
Following the Omnibus Election Code, the said political parties cannot return under the same name. If they wish to do so, they must reapply with a new name as well as a new organizational structure. Dissolved political parties can reapply this coming third term of S.Y. 2017-2018.
Notably, 1SENTRO also experienced the same situation a few years back. The political party’s previous name was Sigaw, but after failure to be accredited, it returned to the College under the name 1SENTRO.
Pol parties react to dissolvement
TAYO Chairperson Ella De Guzman left a message of gratitude for the Benildean community.
“Thank you so much for believing in TAYO and for supporting our journey. I do hope that one day you will be able to understand and fully support TAYO’s mission, vision, and goals in making the student government a better body. I also believe that everything happens for a reason and things will fall into place. I hope one day Benildeans will be able to see the efforts of the student leaders,” she said.
Meanwhile, 1SENTRO’s former CSG candidate Mike Allen Aguinaldo was understanding of the situation, stating that the decision of COMELEC was merely in accordance with their laws as the sole legitimate body tasked to carry out all duties regarding student elections.
“For me, Benilde COMELEC is doing their job as it based in the Omnibus Election Code that they follow. I think Benilde needs political parties because it strengthens the political participation of students and awareness of election activity and democracy as being practiced in the College,” he said.
For SINAG Benildyano Chairperson Maxine Ching, their political party was devastated with the turn of events, adding they have gone beyond their roles by instilling values and principles to their members.
“It was a great devastation for my officers and I to hear that all three political parties in Benilde would be dissolved. I believe that all three political parties have done their role in the College, which was to train candidates that would eventually be part of the Central Student Government (CSG). However, the political parties have done more than this and I say this without any biases. They have instilled principles and values that the pioneer members of the political parties have practiced, they’ve encouraged a great number of students to be involved and to exercise their right to suffrage, but most of all each and every member of a political party inspired a student to become the leader that they can be,” Ching said.
“Sinag, 1SENTRO, or TAYO, we may have different principles and different colors but we have one goal and that is to be able to create an active student body,” she added.
SDG’s Failure of Elections
During the interview, Aguilar was also asked about the failure of elections for the School of Diplomacy and Governance (SDG) officers last July because of a computer glitch.
To avoid another failure of elections, the COMELEC will be conducting mock elections with the Information Technology Department.
Besides the technical problems, Aguilar also noted the low voter turnout as part of the failure of elections, adding that apathy was the biggest factor in the said voter turnout.
“I believe lahat naman may pagkukulang o lapses pero siguro ‘yung main reason bakit mababa ‘yung number of votes is the student apathy. Maraming dumaadaan araw-araw sa mga booths namin pero dinadaanan lang kami, kahit gaano namin sila i-encourage na “Bumota ka,” na “To vote is your responsibility [and] your chance to be represented,” she said.
Despite some negative feedback about the presence of the CSG, the COMELEC Chairperson said students must also actively participate in the various programs of the student government.
“Hindi mo siya [CSG] mararamdaman kung hindi mo siya raramdamin. Kung hindi ikaw mismo voluntarily magpa-participate sa mga forums, seminars, projects, and programs nila, hinding hindi mo talaga mararamdaman ang ginagawa nila,” she added.
For the upcoming elections, Aguilar encouraged Benildeans to vote as a chance to be heard.
“I am encouraging you to vote because it’s your responsibility and it’s your chance to take part of how you want Benildeans to be served,” Aguilar said.
“Between the Lines” is a new web program under the Benildean Press Corps, the College’s official student-journalists’ organization, and is a college and national affairs interview program that tackles different issues affecting the students and the youth.