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No ‘abstain’ in upcoming CSC elections; students develop new electronic voting system

In a press conference on Thursday, Central Commission on Elections Medicine Commissioner Ivan Pulanco elaborated that they have removed “abstain” in the new system developed by Computer Science students, but voters could leave their ballots unanswered.



Photo by JC Alvero/TomasinoWeb.

(UPDATED March 10, 1:10 a.m.) There would be no “abstain” option in the upcoming Central Student Council (CSC) elections as the polls switch back to an electronic voting system developed by the University’s Computer Science students.

In a press conference on Thursday, Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) Medicine Commissioner Ivan Pulanco elaborated that they have removed the option—which won the CSC posts for president, vice president, auditor and treasurer in the last elections—but voters could leave their ballots unanswered.

“Unanswered means unanswered. That is our official stance. We are following the procedures conducted by the local elections in the Philippines for voters are allowed to leave positions blank and we don’t feel that it is proper to compel a student vote for an individual… So it’s not abstain, its unanswered,” Pulanco said.

This move is in accordance with the order of the Central Judiciary Board last year, which stated that including “abstain” in the ballots was a violation of Article X Section 5 of the UST Student’s Election Code of 2011 as ballots should only contain “the printed names of candidates, their positions and their parties , a box before each candidate’s name, serial number and the instructions” with no mention of an “abstain” option.


Thomasians develop new voting system

The Computer Science Society (CSS), in partnership with Comelec and the UST e-Service Providers (STEPS), developed the Evosys system, the very first electronic voting system developed by Thomasian students which they said would ensure fast, reliable, accurate and secured canvassing of votes through the use of the University’s local servers provided by STEPS.

“For this upcoming elections,  we will be hosting it with STEPS [with their] local servers…. It’s intranet, [meaning] within the internet of UST, so transferring of data will be fast,” CSS President John Regalado told reporters.

The elections last year became manual after the proclamation of elected officers in the 2016 CSC elections were delayed due to technical glitches with the Blackboard e-Learning Access Program, where the polls were hosted.

Evosys Project Manager Angel Luis Santos said the system would be more reliable than manual voting since “it requires a login to access the system and it automates the canvassing of votes” and that “the counting will be done by the system.”

Comelec Vice Chairman and Evosys Project Head Mely Cherrylyne Cruz said that Comelec, Potato Codes, an organization of Thomasian developers, and the Office for Student Affairs (OSA) decided it would be best that CSS would develop the system.

“There is no other competition… outside UST. [Developers outside the campus] cannot develop the software for UST because that would bring about concerns on outside influence, etc. This is why we chose specifically and only CSS,” Cruz added.

Santos also ensured the election’s security, saying that the system “underwent rigorous testing from developers and some faculty members of the Computer Science department.” She also said the system is secure from hacking since votes can only be accessed within UST’s local servers.


Security, technical concerns

Santos demonstrated the new voting process, which involves verification of voters by assigned deputies, the actual voting of students, submission of all votes and upon completion, and the acquisition of reference numbers as proof that a student has finished the entire voting process.

While students would be using their student numbers as theirs username in voting, Comelec Chairman Arvin Bersonda said that the password would be unique in every voting session and that it would come from verifiers.

“Malalaman lang namin yung password nila on the day that they will vote, on the day they were verified as a Thomasian voter kasi we have verifiers, sila yung mag-eencode and ‘dun palang nila makukuha yung access code nila sa elections upon entry sa [computer laboratory],” he added.

Bersonda said that if computer units crash during the voting period, the system would only process finished and submitted ballots so that students could still resume voting.

To accommodate all voters,  there would be an allotted time for every individual to vote, according to Allan Theo Hernandez, OSA’s staff for student activities.

University-wide mock elections held to earlier today to test the system. The filing of the certificates of candidacy would be on March 21; elections are set to be held in April .—B. Laforga

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dates regarding the exact schedule of elections and proclamation of officers were removed due to disputing claims from officers of Comelec.




Thomasians join broad mobilization, people’s SONA

Thomasians joined the thousands of Filipinos who marched along Commonwealth to condemn the Duterte administration’s policies and to show the true ‘state of the nation.’



As President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday, July 22, Thomasians joined the thousands of Filipinos who marched along Commonwealth to condemn the Duterte administration’s policies and to show the true ‘state of the nation.’

Before joining the protest along Commonwealth, various progressive groups in the University held a mobilization in front of UST Gate 2.

Among the calls are in condemnation of the recent forced closure of 55 Lumad schools, de facto Martial Law, the revival of the mandatory ROTC in senior high school, UST’s tuition fee increase, and issues concerning the national sovereignty.

Struggles of the Youth

Angelic Villanueva, a Thomasian student-activist, said that she joined this year’s SONA protest to show her support for the youth sector, as well as the whole Filipino people who suffered from the three-year rule of the Duterte “regime”.

She said that the youth plays a big role and they should join those kinds of events to show support for their fellow Filipinos.

“Siyempre sobrang important—lalo na yung pinakagasgas nang sinasabi, pero alam naman nating totoo—na kabataan is sila yung pag-asa ng bayan,” Villanueva shared to TomasinoWeb.

Kumbaga, sa atin nakadepende kung paano nga ba natin gugustuhin ‘yung magiging buhay natin sa [hinaharap]. Kaya sobrang importante na makilahok tayo sa ganitong klaseng activities para ipakita yung pagsuporta natin sa kapwa natin,” she added.

She also expects the same content from President Duterte in this year’s SONA like promises not to be fulfilled and misogynistic jokes. 

“Puno na naman siya ng mga pangako niya na hindi naman natutupad. […] Asahan na rin natin na meron na namang mga misoginistang biro, mga biro na hindi naman [dapat] ginagawang biro,” she said.

Villanueva also said that the past three years of his rule has been filled with promises not fulfilled and the country’s situation worsened.

“Ang nangyari naman sa tatlong tao na pamumuno niya sa’tin ay lalo lang lumalala yung paghihirap natin. So ayun, puro mga bogus na pangako puro ganun,” said Villanueva.

For Villanueva, there is no progress in the country as the “progress” done by the government are only used to silence the people and suppress their anger.

“Wala kasi akong makita eh. Kumbaga kung meron man silang binibigay na progress ‘yun ay para pansamantalang patahimikin yung mga mamamayan. […] Ginagawa nila ‘yung mga ganun para pansamantalang pawiin ‘yung galit ng mga mamamayan,” she added.

SONA on the streets

Despite the heavy rain, an estimated 40,000 protesters in front of St. Peter Parish – Shrine of Leaders along Commonwealth Avenue staged this year’s United People’s SONA to show their situation.

The crowd of protesters was comprised of different groups and sectors like farmers, fisherfolks, workers, religious groups and indigenous groups from different parts of the country.

A short program in front of the Commission on Human Rights at the University of the Philippines – Diliman was held before they marched to St. Peter Parish.

Before the program, a “Mass for Truth” was held inside the church concelebrated by Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and retired Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, and was joined by religious and other individuals who all joined the protest later on. 

Senator Risa Hontiveros gave a short speech after the mass saying that she does not know what to expect in this year’s SONA since, for the past three years, it has always been filled with cursing, threats of violence, and harassment.

During the program, different individuals addressed the crowd regarding the country’s current ills and problems.

Labor leader and 2019 Senatorial Candidate Leody “Ka Leody” de Guzman said that the current administration does not support workers.

“Binubusabos ng gobyernong ito ang ating mga manggagawa. […] Ang gobyerno ni Duterte, mga kasama, ay pagpapatuloy lamang ng malupit na gobyerno,” Ka Leody told the crowd of protesters.

He reiterated that the current government is for capitalists, for the trapos, and not for the Filipinos, as contractualization law is the last spike of the government in oppressing workers.

“Nagbabago lang ang pamamaraan, si Duterte ay marahas,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares also addressed the crowd, reiterating the government’s weak stand in the issue on the West Philippine Sea.

“Tayo ang nanalo pero tayo ang astang talo,” said Colmenares.

He also urged the people to stand for the country and their rights.

State of different sectors under Duterte

Fernando Licap, a fisherfolk leader also shared the same sentiments and expressed his frustration on the administration’s weak stance towards China. 

“Sukdulan ang pagiging kontra-mamamayan ni Duterte. Lantaran ang pagpapakatuta ni Duterte sa Tsina,” said Licap.

Licap further said that the administration continuously defends China after Filipino fishermen’s boat collided with a Chinese vessel and despite the destruction of the West Philippine Sea.

“Binabaliwala, hindi kinilala ni Duterte ang United Nations Tribunal na [kumikilala sa] karapatan ng Pilipinas sa West Philippine Sea,” he added. 

Different indigenous groups from different provinces also joined the SONA protest.

Nenita Condez, a Lumad leader from the Zamboanga Peninsula also expressed her disappointment and anger on the current administration as their communities are continuously being threatened by military and investors. 

“Sa tatlong taon po ni Duterte, sa una po ay pinaasa niya ang mga katutubo na tutulong talaga. Tapos pagdating nung anim na buwan ba ‘yun, lumabas na ‘yung totoong kulay ni Duterte,” Condez shared with TomasinoWeb in an interview.

She said that their lives under the Duterte administration has been difficult since they frequently experience displacement from their native lands, their schools are forced to close, and many of them became victims of trumped-up charges.

Condez shared that her father and 17-year-old brother were only the few of the many victims of trumped-up charges in the area. His father was charged for murder while his younger brother, who was shot last February, was charged with rape, arson, and robbery right after being hospitalized.

“Grabe ang atake ng militar sa aming komunidad. ‘Yun ‘yung mga example niya sa aming kominidad, laging nagbo-bombing, tapos interogasyon, kahit saan po sa mga komunindad sa Mindanao,” she asserted. 

She also expressed her strong stance for their native lands, which for them is their true home and their life where they can truly practice their culture.

“Yung lupa namin, lupang ninuno [namin], ito yung kinikilala naming buhay, ito yung ospital [namin], ito yung merkado [namin]. Kahit wala kaming pera, mabu[buhay] kami,” said Condez.

Duterte’s State of the Nation

In his longest SONA which lasted for two hours, President Duterte still highlighted the “terrible” drug problem in the country as well as crime and corruption in some government agencies. 

He also asked the Congress to pass the proposed reinstatement of the death penalty and showed his support for the passage of mandatory ROTC and the second package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion program.

The President also boasted of the rehabilitation of Boracay Island as he allowed it to “heal naturally,” and promised to give the forest behind the island to the natives of the place, and the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

His plans for the Manila Bay rehabilitation and the Build-Build-Build Program were also discussed, as well as the tempered actions of the government in the dispute with China on the West Philippine Sea due to the “times and realities that we face today,” as he said.   John Aaron Pangilinan


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UST tops June 2019 architecture boards

The University was named as the top performing school in the June 2019 licensure examination for architects, with four Thomasians landing in the top 10.



The University was named as the top performing school in the June 2019 licensure examination for architects, with four Thomasians landing in the top 10.

UST recorded a 92.86-percent passing rate, in which 195 out of 210 Thomasian examinees passed the exam.

This was higher than last year’s 84.19 percent, wherein 197 out of 234 examinees made the cut.

Jilliane Salinas Espinosa and Marc Chialor Bance Orgado led the new batch of Thomasian architects after placing third with a score of 84.30 percent.

Thomasian Paulo Zab David placed seventh with a score of 83 percent, while Criselle Ong Chua landed in the eighth spot after scoring 82.90 percent.

Moreover, John Vincent Rojo Lopez of Eulogio (Amang) Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology led the new batch of architects with a score of 84.90 percent.

According to the Professional Regulation Commission, 2,104 out of 3,172 passed the board exam nationwide.


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No Vice Presidential Candidate for 2019 UST-CSC Elections

Aspiring UST Central Student Council (CSC) for this year’s university-wide elections candidates filed their certificates of candidacy today, March 27, 2019 at the UST -Tan Yan Kee Student Center, where no vice presidential candidate filed for candidacy.



filing of candidacy for csc elections booth in tyk
Photo by Audrice Serrano

Aspiring UST Central Student Council (CSC) for this year’s university-wide elections candidates filed their certificates of candidacy today, March 27, 2019 at the UST -Tan Yan Kee Student Center, where no vice presidential candidate filed for candidacy.

Among the aspiring candidates is the incumbent CSC secretary Robert Dominic Gonzales from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery running independently for president.

In an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb, Gonzales said that he is running again for CSC or him to continue what they have already started in their service in CSC.

“Kaya ako tumatakbo ulit bilang parte ng Central Student Council kasi, for me, gusto kong ituloy kung ano man yung mga nasimulan naming noong naglilingkod kami sa CSC. Actually with or without position kaya mong maglingkod eh. Pero yung alam mong nakikita mong nakaupo ka dun, first-hand, kung paano gumalaw, pa’no mag-representa ng mga estudyante, I think yun ang isa sa mga pinaka-noble acts being of service, without asking for anything in return. Kaya ako tumatakbo dito ngayon kasi dala-dala ko rin yung mga adbokasiya ko noon, noong tumakbo ako, at para rin maging boses ng mga Tomasino,” said Gonzales.

When asked about the the main problems and issues he will be addressing, he said that he will focus on giving more representation on the student body.

“Siguro for me kasi, ang nakikita kong problema ngayon nagkakaroon tayo ng siguro, kakulangan sa representasyon, sa pagiging boses sa social issues, sa mga pressing issues na kinakaharap ng mga estudyante natin. So isa yun sa mga pangunahing trabaho na gagawin natin,” he added.

“I am encouraging the student body to be very critical of the people who they will be voting for, not just in the student council elections but also in our national elections kasi nakasalalay sa kamay natin yung magiging kinabukasan, magiging future ng school ng bansa, ng bawat sarili natin,” said Gonzales.

Another independent candidate is Legal Management freshman Krizia Bricio running for the position of secretary.

In an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb, Bricio said that she has been working for the team secretary for two years already and she is “already equipped with enough knowledge and skills to serve” as this years CSC secretary.

“Bibigyang-pansin ko po ‘pag ako’y nahalal na Secretary ng konseho ay ang mga study areas inside UST po and then strengthening the campaigns and advocacies inside the University para mas mapamulat natin ang mga Tomasino,” she added.

When asked about her plans on the passage of the long-delayed Students’ Code, “Sa ngayon po sa Students’ Code ipagpapatuloy po natin ito na ilatag sa ating central board and then sa mga offices para this year hopefully ay maipatupad na, maipasa na ang students’ code,” said Bricio.

Incomplete slate for the only two Political Parties

Meanwhile, Lakas ng Diwang Tomasino (LAKASDIWA) and Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC), the only two accredited political parties for this academic year, both have incomplete set of candidates for this year’s elections, with the former having only a a lone candidate for secretary.

LAKASDIWA’s only candidate for secretary is Chemistry freshman Karch Andrei Rafael from the College of Science.

“Being a first year student in the University, I’ve seen many spaces and areas that we can improve. And I know that I, together with the Thomasian community, we could work it out,” said Rafael in an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb.

He also added that he wants to promote inclusivity and transparency of the council to all students.

When asked about the passage of the Students’ Code, he said that it must start from the “very bottom,” or from the local student councils.

“We could ask them to inform the students or orient the students about the student code about their rights and everything and it will go up until the University itself, until the whole University knows what are their rights,” he added.

On the other hand, LTC’s aspiring president Worship Acosta from the Institute of Physical Education and Athletics said that he believes that what Thomasians needs is someone who can give them service 24/7.

Furthermore, Acosta also said that he will give more focus on the opportunities that the students should get.

“Bibigyan po natin ng halaga ang mga dapat nakukuha ng students,” he added.

“Ipaglalaban po natin ang students’ rights. As a team we are here to really make the people have a choice, a chance to make a change in the University,” he added.

Meanwhile, LTC’s secretary candidate Nicholas Sia from College of Fine Arts and Design said that after working for CSC for the longest time, it is time for him to run for the CSC secretary.

When asked about his platforms, he said that he will not only focus on the welfare of the students but of other creations as well.

“In line with my advocacies towards life, tututukan natin not only welfare of the students but also the welfare of the other creations as well like the environment and the animals as well,” said Sia.

On the passage of the Students’ Code, Sia said that the executive board should prioritize it since it is really needed by the students.

“Kailangan na rin siyang tutukan kasi sa panahon na ang daming nagiging issue so we really have to like have a backup sa’ting mga students,” said Sia.

Moreover, Sia added: “Through that, I think, I believe na magagawa ko yung pagtulong din, yung mga platforms ko through community development especially through collaborative effort kasi naniniwala ako na CSC is not a one-man team.”

Meanwhile, LTC’s Auditor candidate Patricia Cruz said that after her three years of stay in the University since senior high school, she observed a lot of flaws and lacks in the Thomasians.

“I really want na yung pagiging leader ko, gusto kong ma-extend siya, maibahagi ko siya sa Thomasian community in a way na I can affect their lives for their betterment,” she added.

“Gusto ko talaga bigyang-pansin yung sa transparency. Gusto kong idisclose sa buong Thomasian community kung saan napupunta yung pera nila, na hindi siya biglang nawawala and gusto kong maipakita sa kanila na yung fund natin nagagamit siya ng tama,” said Cruz.

Moreover, LTC’s aspiring Treasurer Rafael Lipat said that what made him run is his will to serve the student body after being part of CSC for the past years.

“I want to step up my game again since I’ve been part of CSC for the past years. And I really want to go back to my roots na I want to serve the student body,” said Lipat.

In addition, he said that he will focus on the tuition fee increase being proposed by the admin every year.

“We will have a lobbying feature this year, hopefully sa CSC, na malo-lobby natin yung concerns natin when it comes to tuition fee increase; and I really want the next academic year to be a really transparent and financially able here for the CSC and the local student councils” he added.

Moreover, LTC’s PRO candidate Jeric Sun said that he decided to run for public relations officer since his capabilities and potentials should not stop in a local student council.  

“As an outgoing executive board member of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences under the position of Chief-of-Staff, I believe that my people skills, if you may, is more than adequate,” said Sun.

In addition, Sun said that his biggest concern is oppression people face through harassment.

He added, “When people say, empowerment, it doesn’t stop at females, it doesn’t stop at the LGBTQ, it’s all of us, it’s each individual; and the true meaning of empowerment is not when you support one group, it’s when you support every individual going through something.”

Consequently, UST Central COMELEC is expected to release the official list of candidates on Friday, March 27, 2019 as stated in its Memorandum No. 4, Series of 2018-2019.

Furthermore, Tagisan 2019 or the Miting de Avance is scheduled on April 13, election period on April 23-27, and the proclamation of new set of CSC officers on April 27, 2019.


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