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PRO bet appeals to Comelec: Reconsider removal of ‘abstain’

Public relations officer (PRO) candidate Jeremiah Pasion said that the removal of abstain votes “undermines the democratic right of every Thomasian to demand and call for a better student council.”

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Public relations officer candidate Jeremiah Pasion appealed to the Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) regarding its decision to remove “abstain” votes in the electronic ballots to be used in the upcoming elections, saying the move “undermines” democracy in the University.

In his Facebook post last Monday, Pasion stated that the removal of abstain in the ballots will not only “trample” on Thomasians’ right to express their approval or rejection of candidates but it also has “insufficient basis.”

“We stand against their decision to remove the ‘Abstain’ vote in the student council elections. This move undermines the democratic right of every Thomasian to demand and call for a better student council,” Pasion said.

He said that in the history of student elections in UST, abstain held a symbolic role in Thomasians’ collective call for political transformation.

“To exclude the choice of ‘ABSTAIN’ is to deny the voters an avenue to express their discontent and rejection towards certain candidates that may not reflect their standards of what a true student leader should be,” he stated.

In his appeal letter, the article of UST Students’ Election Code (USEC) of 2011 on manual voting, in which the Central Comelec and the Central Judiciary Board (CJB) based its ruling, cannot be applied since the upcoming elections will be automated.

“All sections under Article X of the USEC, which all pertain to manual elections, are rendered inapplicable and cannot be used technically to justify the removal of ‘Abstain’ in the ballots,” Pasion said.

USEC Article X Section 5 states that ballots should contain “the printed names of all the candidates, under the position to which they aspire, followed by their party affiliation; a printed box appearing before the candidate’s name; a serial number; and printed instructions on how to accomplish the ballot.”

In a resolution released on July 24 last year, the CJB ordered the Central Comelec to proclaim the candidates with the highest number of votes as winners in last year’s April student polls, following petitions to disregard “abstain” votes.

Pasion, moreover, asserted that the Central Comelec will commit errors both in substance and procedure if it decides to proclaim lone candidates with 25-percent of total votes as winners.

“In terms of substance, it can lead to outright dismissal of the voice of Thomasians especially if we consider the results of the 2017 UST CSC elections,” he said.

The Central Comelec must not refer to USEC Article I Section 8 since it was irrelevant addressing the issue of lone candidates, the statement further read.

“This provision must only be used in extreme cases when less than a quarter of the voting population went to the polling centers to cast their vote in the whole CSC elections,” he argued.

He also urged Thomasians and authoritative bodies to raise the political discourse, review the USEC, and make necessary amendments of the Code.

“In times when explicitly written rules are absent and are yet to exist, institutions must rely on the wisdom of recognized conventions founded on the democratic right of members to elect their leaders,” he added.

The Central Comelec is yet to comment as of press time.

During a press conference last March 8, the Central Comelec announced that abstain will be removed from the ballots, but students can leave them unanswered (READ: No ‘abstain’ in upcoming CSC elections; students develop new electronic voting system).

Abstain won 4 out of 6 positions in the last elections, leaving only the secretary and the public relations officer posts filled.

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UST lands perfect passing rate in electronics technician boards, boosts performance in electronics eng’g

The University maintained a 100-percent passing rate in the April 2018 electronics technician licensure exams while it improved to 66.67 percent in the electronics engineering boards.

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Photo by Christel Maliksi/TomasinoWeb.

The University scored a 100-percent passing rate in the April 2018 electronics technician licensure examinations.

UST maintained its perfect passing rate with all of its four takers making the cut. Ten Thomasians took and passed the exam last year.

Mark Jefferson Arellano of Cagayan State University – Tuguegarao, Cyrus Peter Lim and Fernando Roman Jr. from Mapúa University and Dannah Caye Palces of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Maragondon all led this year’s batch of electronics technicians with a score of 89 percent.

Mapúa University remained the top-performing school with all of its 69 takers passing the test.

According to the results from the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), this year’s national passing rate is 76.93 percent, with 1,141 passing the test of 1,483 examinees, a decline from last year’s 80.13 percent, with 1,020 takers making the cut out of 1,273 examinees.

Meanwhile, UST boosted its performance in the electronics engineering boards with a higher passing rate.

The University improved to 66.67 percent, with 14 making the cut out of 21 takers, an improvement from last year’s 57.50-percent mark, with 23 out of 40 examinees passing the boards.

Mark Eullysis Alzaga of Far Eastern University – Institute of Technology topped this year’s electronic engineering boards after scoring a 93.30-percent mark.

University of the Philippines – Diliman was declared the top-performing school, with all of its 27 takers passing the test.

Results from the PRC showed that the country posted a national passing rate of 45.36 percent this year, with 1,208 out of 2,663 examinees passing the test, an improvement from last year’s 41.27 percent or 1,033 passers out of 2,503 takers.

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Presidential bets push for passage of Students’ Code

Karizza Kamille Cruz promised to pass the Students’ Code of Rights in 10 months while Francis Gabriel Santos claimed that his Students’ Rights and Welfare Coalition platform is a more “unified approach” to address the issue.

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Photo by Alec Go/TomasinoWeb.

Presidential candidates for the Central Student Council (CSC) asserted during a face-off on Thursday that they will push for the passage of the Students’ Code of Rights when elected.

“Kung ang may pinakamataas na posisyon dito po sa [UST] ay may suporta sa Students’ Code at ilalagay niya ‘to sa black and white, kung magbibigay po siya ng memorandum sa ating regents at academic senate at magbibigay po sya ng ultimatum, kahit po limang buwan, kahit po isang buwan, kaya po nating ipasa ang Students’ Code,” Karizza Kamille Cruz affirmed.

Cruz added that she will immediately pass an endorsement letter to University Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, OP on the very first day of her term.

“Susulat tayo sa Father Rector ng endorsement na pansinin po ng mga council of regents and academic senate itong Students’ Code. Bigyan po ng oras, gawing priority,” the law sophomore argued.

She also promised to pass the code within 10 months, which is roughly equivalent to one academic year.

Francis Gabriel Santos, meanwhile, claimed that his Students’ Rights and Welfare (Straw) Coalition platform is a more “unified approach” to address the issue.

“Kaya po meron tayong platform na Straw Coalition dito sa ating University. Dito unified approach… Mas maganda, mas collective ang action ng estudyante sa pagpasa Students’ Code,” he said.

The Straw Coalition seeks to “localize the National Straw Coalition in the University” and will also “serve as a lobbying group for the passage of the Students’ Code in the University.”

Moreover, when Santos asked Cruz on why Thomasians should vote for him, she said that they both have the same goal for the Students’ Code.

The Students’ Code, formerly known as the Magna Carta of Students, was first drafted in 2004. It includes the responsibilities of Thomasians and rights to information, academics, freedom of expression and organization to name a few.—B. Laforga

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OSA suspends recognition of new orgs

The suspension comes on the heels of the hazing case of Faculty of Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III. Specific details regarding fraternities and sororities would be released in a separate memorandum.

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New student organizations wishing to apply for accreditation for the next school year would be unable to do so following a memorandum from the Office for Student Affairs (OSA).

In a memorandum dated April 3, OSA suspended the application for recognition of new student organizations in the University but the office did not state any particular reason for the suspension.

The suspension comes on the heels of the hazing case of Faculty of Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, who died Sept. 17 last year after undergoing the initiation rites of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.

Aegis Juris had been an accredited fraternity based in the faculty for the past school years and the Senate inquiry panel pointed out during a hearing last Sept. 25 that, despite its suspension, the fraternity was allowed to present during the faculty’s freshman orientation last August.

However, OSA Director Socorro Guan Hing contested during the Senate hearing that it was only by September — during the time of Castillo’s death — that the fraternity’s suspension became official.

Divina further clarified that the fraternity was still deemed to be compliant with its accreditation June last year.

“In June, they are deemed to be compliant. Only in September that they are deemed to be non-compliant,” Divina told the Senate inquiry panel.

Guan Hing also stated before the panel that the college’s freshman orientation was not meant for recruitment.

“There is also a schedule for recruitment done by organizations which comes after they have been recognized. If and when recruitment really happened, that was not authorized,” she said.

In a statement released last Feb. 18 regarding the expulsion of eight law students linked to Castillo’s case, OSA said they conducted a seminar for organization advisers and student leaders on the Anti-Hazing Law and recommended a review of the Student Handbook as well as organization accreditation processes.

In the same statement, the office further said they also issued an indefinite moratorium on recruitment and activities of all fraternities and sororities in UST following the incident.

OSA’s recent memorandum states that “specific details” regarding the recognition of fraternities and sororities would be issued separately.

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