By Alissa Z. Lacson and Ronelyn C. Vailoces
|While we’ve heard them campaign and we’ve read their achievements, let us aim to know the student government presidential and vice-presidential candidates better — simply because they have our vote. Like the importance of national elections, we should also get involved with student politics because the student government body could either make or break our student life. While the candidates continue to go room-to-room and distribute their party brochures, here’s a glimpse of who they are as leaders and what they propose to achieve if elected.|
Gil Buenavista and Charmaine Malata
SURE (Students Union for Reforms) Party standard bearers, Cha and Gil, or perhaps, Team Chill, is all about “Kamo, kami, kita ra gihapon ang SUSG.” Literally, this means that everyone on campus is part of the student government. Thus, leadership for Gil is member-based — “a leader is one who can understand the members,” he said. “It’s [also] doing more than what is expected of you and not being afraid to make mistakes,” Charmaine added.
According to Gil, his New Year’s resolution—to be brave—pushed him to run for presidency. “There’s a certain part of me that just doesn’t want to stop…it’s an opportunity that’s not given to just any student and I should acknowledge that,” he said.
As for Charmaine, her experience in the Silliman University Corps of Campus Ambassadors for two consecutive years influenced her decision to run as vice-president. “As a campus ambassador, you know the school inside and out by heart, so you know the problems,” she said.
With this opportunity, Cha and Gil aim to enhance student involvement through events such as USpeak (University Speak) because “we want to encourage the students to know their rights in order to enjoy their privileges,” Charmaine said. Although USPEAK was implemented during Emperado’s administration, they basically believe that it needs to be strengthened by hopefully making it a per college forum. “We want to advocate [an] environment where students are not afraid to voice out their concerns,” Gil added. This is because they believe student participation or apathy is the most pressing issue on campus.
Aside from USPEAK as a way for the students to actively participate on campus, they also hope the students will propose activities that the student government can pursue so that it will be “an event that they would really participate in,” said Gil. Charmaine also added that they want to push for advocacy-centered events for the students to not only participate but to also learn something.
While they wish to eradicate apathy, they also want to start with the small things inside the student government such as being more assertive with finance policies and proposed resolutions, as well as to see a more equitable and just fines system in the campus.
Speaking from experience as part of both the executive and legislative branch of the student government, Gil also hopes to build a better relationship with the members of the student body if elected. “I’ll appoint competent and hardworking Execom (executive committee) people…para pud ma efficient siya ba.” Charmaine also shared the same sentiment. “We tell everybody we can solve their problems, but how can we solve theirs if we can’t even solve the problems within the student government itself?” she said. To solve this, the SURE party standard bearers plan to have a team-building not just for the executive committee but also for the entire student government body.
Gil also wishes to appoint competent members for the three branches of the student government with the aim of “fostering a sense of camaraderie in them, fostering a good relationship between them but still maintaining the separation of powers.” While he also acknowledges that appointing students to be in the judicial branch of the student body is difficult, he aims to have an official judiciary branch during the first semester of his term.
Ina Elnar and Cedrick Antiquina
Continuing the legacy of 35 years of service above self are CAUSE (Concerted Action for the Upliftment of Student Endeavors) Party standard bearers Ina Elnar and Cedrick Antiquina. With their campaign backed by the motto “I’m with Her,” Ina believes that she has the experience and potential to serve the students together with her partner Cedrick, whose desire is to not only serve but to also make “the student government a total representative of the student body.”
“I know I’ve worked well enough and that I’ve earned the trust of my peers so mura’g why not ba…why limit myself?” Ina said. “They always say na daunting ang task sa president but great accomplishments man gud aren’t done alone,” she added. And so together with Cedrick, they aim to cater to the students from the grassroots level such as organizing summits, workshops, and activities that will help the students to not only hone their skills and talents but to also equip the students when they leave the halls of Silliman.
Vice-presidential candidate Cedrick also said that they envision “a more capable SG (student government)” because they believe that the most pressing issue on campus is the competence of the student leaders. “Because from what I’ve heard, [students] look up to the SUSG…they depend on the activities, the events…so it always boils down to who works for those things,” Ina explained. Thus, they hope to appoint competent individuals under Elnar’s administration if they win the elections. “I will contribute my part in making certain that the SG lives to the values of honesty and integrity all the time,” Cedrick also said. Once in office, he plans to “obtain a list of interested and competent individuals who have the spirit of servant leadership,” he added.
The CAUSE party standard bearers also point out that the first issue they want to solve is transparencyto gain back the students’ trust in the SUSG as well as to come up with a fully-functioning judicial branch come next school year. “Only if we have competent and service-oriented leaders that comply with constitutional requirements that we then have an organized SG…exactly what I envision,” Cedrick said. In fact, Ina’s even willing to replace incompetent leaders to uphold her standards for an efficient student government body. “I will never be afraid [of] standing my ground and speaking for the benefit and welfare of the students,” Cedrick also said.
As they both prioritize competence and transparency, if elected, Cedrick also plans to propose relevant activities in partnership with the League of Student Governors as well as to meet with the policy-making bodies of the university. While “leadership entails humility” for Ina, “it is [also] putting the needs of every member as the topmost priority,” said Cedrick. As the party headline says, they are “always ready to serve for a bigger CAUSE.”
On a side note, Elnar and Antiquina are vying for Sen.Meriam Defensor-Santiago as president of this country. Antiquina said, “The Philippines deserves a president who is fearless, well-educated, competent, well-experienced, and most of all someone who produces laws that are for the benefit of the oppressed, poor, and marginalized.” Ina added that Santiago’s achievements are simply top-notch compared to the rest.
Next school year, these candidates will be the first in the position to experience the K+12 educational system and the search for the new university president at the same time; Gil accepts the challenge, Charmaine is positive she can pull through, Ina is confident of her capabilities, and Cedrick welcomes the change “with a hopeful heart.”~