By Susanah Jane L. Lapa
The chair of the Concerted Action for the Upliftment of Students’ Endeavors (CAUSE) has called on the Silliman University Student Government president for “neglecting her constitutional duty” to appoint a judiciary in the SG.
In a letter sent to SG president and Students’ Union for Reforms (SURE) standard-bearer Rona Namocatcat last Feb. 20, CAUSE party head Feliciano Mahinay III emphasized the urgent need for a judiciary during the election period last week.
“I would understand if she was unable to appoint the judiciary immediately when she took over the SUSG because the judiciary’s role is very minimal, but never before has a judiciary not been appointed up to this time,” Mahinay said.
The SG is composed of three branches: executive, legislative and judiciary. The SG president assumes the position as executive head, the legislative head or the Assembly chair, is elected by members of the Assembly and the judiciary head or the Prime Justice, is appointed by the SG president.
Mahinay explained that the judiciary’s role during the election is crucial because it is the final decision-making body of any Committee on Election (Comelec) decisions.
“If ever there is any election-related concern or electoral protest and the Comelec issues a decision on it, either of the parties can make an appeal on that Comelec decision to the judiciary,” he said.
In his letter, Mahinay cited instances of how the lack of a judiciary affected the CAUSE and SURE parties: the SURE party had no one to appeal to when they were not able to comply on time with the candidacy requirements of a High School representative, while the CAUSE party also had no one to appeal to when they wanted to protest the competing party’s rescheduling of campaign dates.
Mahinay said he only raised the lack of a judiciary now because Namocatcat does “not need to be notified because she already knows her role as president.”
According to Namocatcat, she did appoint judiciary members but failed to submit the list of appointees to the SG Assembly.
“It was a lapse on my part because the whole time I thought I had submitted their names along with the Executive Committee appointees. The appointed [judiciary] members though were functioning according to their roles even if they were not formally appointed on paper nor recognized by the assembly,” she said.
Namocatcat also questioned Mahinay’s timing and said the negligence accusation should not rest solely on her part because the SG Assembly also failed to check her list of appointees.
“Why did they only inquire about the judiciary now? . . . I can’t remember everything and I assumed that everything was okay because [the Assembly] did not tell me,” she said.
Namocatcat added that she admits she did not submit the names but did her duty to appoint the judiciary.
“The whole [judiciary] team can attest to that. I do not think I am the only one who was negligent,” she said.
Appointed Prime Justice of the judiciary Izzy Maxino said they were not aware of the situation at all.
“I did not know there was an issue. What I know is that Rona (Namocatcat) approached some students from the [College of Law] to be appointed members of the judiciary when the school year started,” said Maxino.