CALLING FOR “CHANGE,” Ang Mithi provokingly questioned the Omnibus Election Code governing the College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) elections through its Facebook page, following the Electoral Board’s (ELBO) resolution faulting the party for its “violation of the registration of online campaign paraphernalia” in a resolution issued last September 4.
Following the release of the ELBO’s decision, Ang Mithi went to Facebook to air out its grievances against the election guidelines. In their post, the political party complained against the “dangerously conservative and antiquated” interpretation of the election code in the CAS.
Among their list of protests are the “failure” of ELBO to excuse the candidates during the campaign period, the prohibition against non-Bedans from appearing in any campaign paraphernalia, and the “rigid” registration of campaign paraphernalias.
Allesandra Leine Sarangaya, Ang Mithi Chairperson, says that the post made by the party was intended to “initiate a discussion” on San Beda’s election code, speaking on the rules on campaign paraphernalia and the refusal to grant excuse letters for the candidates.
“Bakit ngayon parang pinabayaan na lang iyong mga kandidato maghanap ng classroom, kumausap ng [professor], [at] umabsent para mangampanya,” said Sarangaya, adding that, “paano uusbong ang mga lider-estudyante sa isang komunidad gaya ng San Beda kung ang mga rules ng ELBO parang sinasabing ‘pag tumakbo siya, masisira ang academics niya?”
Nonetheless, the Ang Mithi Chairperson clarified that the party’s statement was not an attack against the poll body, characterizing its members as “hardworking” organizers, especially in this third election for the year and insisted that they were referring to the “general culture” of the CAS.
“Gusto natin mag-build ng trust, pero walang diskurso para itaas ang conversations. Lahat ng information regarding the elections, descriptive, hindi kritikal,” she expounded.
On their part, Kurt Andrei Catolico, ELBO Vice Chairperson, shared that they “respect” the sentiments aired by Ang Mithi in their Facebook post.
Nevertheless, he clarified that the ELBO already visited the Office of the Prefect of Student Activities (OPSA), the CAS Office, and the Dean’s Office, before the campaign period to have the excuse letters approved, in which the administration expressed “firm opposition” on the grounds that the CAS elections is “not an institutional activity.”
“May mga events ang [Student Council] na wala naman talagang excuse letters like the COR (College Organizational Recruitment) Week, yung ibang events wala rin excuse letters, even ELBO, our members, hindi kami binigyan ng excuse letters,” he added, putting light on how the decision was ultimately beyond their control but with the administration.
As regards to the call for the revision of the CAS Omnibus Election Code, Ang Mithi points to its provision on ‘General and Additional Qualifications’ for running as a starting point for revision.
“Bakit Accountancy courses lang pwedeng mag–auditor eh lahat naman ng organization [mayroon] n’un,” Sarangaya questioned.
Adding further that the revision of the Election Code must go “hand-in-hand” with the call for the revision of the Student Council (SC) constitution, the party chairperson says that “Ang dami pang dapat baguhin, gaya ng ELBO drive for [paraphernalias] na ‘đi pwedeng galawin sa loob ng kampanya, pero pwede tayong magsimula sa restrictive barriers for entry to candidates themselves.”
On ELBO’s part, Catolico bared that they are “open for the revision of the Omnibus Election Code,” asserting that provisions pertaining to the conduct of campaign and penalties are “outdated” as the election process of San Beda adopted the trend towards online campaigning.
“Currently, ang ginagawa ng Electoral Board is releasing resolutions regarding the directions [and] penalties about online campaigning,” said Catolico, hoping that guidelines pertaining to the conduct of online campaigning be integrated in the election code.
“The San Beda Electoral Board remains committed to making impartial decisions, guided solely by the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code, the SC Constitutions, and similar regulations, rather than being influenced by political opinion. Such principled conduct ensures fairness and avoids any potential for bias or discrimination,” Catolico affirmed.
For their part, Sarangaya tells the Bedan community that “the topics [Ang] Mithi raises are meant to make us think: saan ba tayo papunta as a community? Kung lahat tayo ay politically awakened by the People’s Campaign, hindi ba dapat papunta tayo sa more empathic instead of a restrictive system?”
Apart from the sanctions levied against Ang Mithi, ELBO also moved to dismiss the Nationalist Youth and Progressive Democrats’ (NYPD) case against Ang MITHI on the latter’s use of the reference “The Voice,” which the former says is alluding to its recent campaign video featuring Robert dela Paz, the NYPD candidate for First Year Representative.
In their decision, published last September 6, the ELBO says that “The actions made by the Ang MITHI in pursuant with the claim of the NYPD on embarrassment with reference to “The Voice”, does not hold water under the provisions of the Revised Code of Discipline under the College of Arts and Sciences Handbook.“
Logos courtesy of the ELBO, Ang Mithi, and NYPD; composite photo by The Bedan