UPHOLD THE WILL OF THE ELECTORATE IN #USTHALALAN2017
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A PETITION TO THE CENTRAL JUDICIARY BOARD TO UPHOLD THE WILL OF THE ELECTORATE IN THE RECENTLY CONCLUDED UST CENTRAL STUDENT COUNCIL ELECTIONS
Free elections is one of the cornerstones of a democratic government. It gives the people the right to suffrage – the right to vote who their leaders will be. It assures the people that their voice will be counted and not merely disregarded. Ultimately, it provides an avenue for people to show their support or protest against status quo – thereby ensuring accountability of their government officials.
Accountability is defined as the capacity of the electorate to reward or sanction incumbent politicians. Candidates that seek reelection can be held accountable by the electorate, or at least, the candidate's political party. This means that the vote of the electorate shifts when voters attribute reward or blame on the incumbent government (Samuels, 2004). In the context of UST, the past student council candidates’ loss to abstain is reflective of the growing expectations of the Thomasians. The victory of abstain is a victory of the Thomasian electorate in their call for a reassessment of the current socio-political landscape in the student government.
This is the power of a vote.
This is the power of elections.
This is the power of OUR democracy.
In the recently concluded #USTHalalan2017, an unprecedented number of positions had been declared vacant after the electorate's decision to abstain for the positions of President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Auditor.
However, as reported by The Varsitarian, a candidate from the Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) challenged our collective victory when he elevated an appeal to the Central Judiciary Board (CJB) questioning the legality of the “abstain” option in the ballot and proposing to proclaim those with the second highest number of votes as the elected officers, all of whom would be from their political party. He also went to the extent of belittling the rejection by the Thomasian community of traditional politics as a mere propaganda. Should the CJB favor the appeal and disregard the thousands of votes counted for abstain, such decision will be a clear insult to choice of the Thomasian electorate – a clear sign of a decline of the democratic ideals of the student government. LTC is not defending democracy. They are exploiting a loophole to grab on to power. They cannot say that they respect the decision of the electorate but at the same time move to nullify the results.
We therefore call on all Thomasians to participate actively in the public discourse on the issue and to stay vigilant on the proceedings of the case to assure the legitimacy of our choices and ideologies. We also urge the UST CSC Central Board and UST Central Commission on Elections to expedite the revision of UST Student Elections Code to minimize the likelihood of entities abusing the legal process for political and personal gains. We likewise implore the student media organizations to continue sharing truth on the developments regarding the case. The students, being the main stakeholders of this elections, do not deserve to be left out in a discussion as crucial as this one.
Finally, we call on the members of the Central Judiciary Board, composed of Office for Student Affairs (OSA) Director Assoc. Prof. Arlene Calara, OSA legal consultant, Atty. Elgin Michael Perez of the Legal Aid Clinic of the Faculty of Civil Law, Central Student Council representative, and the President of the UST Faculty of Canon Law student government to uphold the principles of judicial activism and respect the will of the electorate in the case currently filed before them.
THE VICTORY OF ABSTAIN IS THE FIRST STEP IN RECLAIMING THE POWER BACK TO THE ELECTORATE FROM TRADITIONAL POLITICS. IT IS TIME TO SOLIDIFY GAINS FROM THIS ELECTIONS TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE AND GENUINE CHANGE IN OUR STUDENT GOVERNMENT.
Samuels, David. "Presidentialism and Accountability for the Economy in Comparative Perspective." American Political Science Review 98.03 (2004): 425-36. Web. 1 June 2017.
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