FOLLOWING A LONG period of uncertainty and unease, newly-elected Student Council (SC) president Eunice Bermudez will formally be proclaimed this Friday, October 13, after the Office of the Prefect of Student Affairs (OPSA) slapped her with a two-week suspension over the complaint lodged against her by a concerned student, postponing her accession into office.
Roughly a month had passed since the Electoral Board (ELBO), through Resolution No. 12-2324, declared the lone presidential candidate, Bermudez, as the winner of the long-vacated presidential seat, having accumulated 1,071 votes from CAS students in the Second Special Election for SC President.
However, the proclamation and oath-taking took a long halt as Amir Jordan Hussin, a third-year student from the Department of Business, Management, and Entrepreneurship and the Head of the SC’s Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs (OVP-IA) Committee, filed a complaint against the newly-elected president before the Office of the Prefect of Student Affairs (OPSA), last September 12.
After weeks of meetings and professional consultations from five lawyers, the OPSA, under Prof. Marvin Reyes, PhD., finally decided to stand by ELBO’s decision to proclaim Bermudez as the new president of San Beda University’s (SBU) CAS department for the following reasons: (1) Section three of the SC Constitution did not automatically state that the penalty shall be disqualification, (2) Hussin filed the complaint during the election day, itself, to which ELBO can no longer deliberate for the qualification and disqualification of candidates, (3) Disqualification happens only before voting, as per the consulted lawyers, and (4) the candidate earned a majority vote to which “the will of the General Assembly is accorded with respect.”
Yet “not condoning the act of campaigning during the election day,” which is a clear violation as based on the aforementioned section of the Constitution, Bermudez was subjected to a two-week suspension, starting from September 25 to October 7, under the prerogative of the OPSA and the endorsement of Prof. Christian Bryan Bustamante, PhD., the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS).
“Our office does not condone the act of campaigning during election day. There is a need to call out and correct this separately, and review procedures on this. But to disqualify is no longer the appropriate action in this case,” according to the OPSA’s letter addressed to Hussin.
In light of these ambiguities, Dr. Reyes alluded to the apparent “gray areas” of the Omnibus Election Code and the SC Constitution, as there was no “firm provision nor sanction” on the legalities and technicalities in cases of violating Section 3 of the SC Constitution, and as such called out both ELBO and the SC for this matter.
“For the ELBO, a big challenge to them. They really have to revise the Omnibus [Election] Code, and I give them a warning; if they don’t, if they failed to revise the Omnibus Election this academic year, their accreditation might be revoked and I will create another electoral body,” warned Dr. Reyes while alerting the SC to guide and lead in revising both the Omnibus Election Code and the SC Constitution for purposes of clarity before the student body.
Nonetheless, Dr. Reyes commended Hussin for his boldness in addressing the issue, hailing his actions as “ganu’n dapat ang Bedista.”
For her part, prior to the decision, Bermudez shared how she felt “nervous, yet at the same time hopeful” in looking forward towards a positive response from OPSA. Hence, when the decision came about, the president-elect’s sense of accountability and negligence, resulting to the violation she had committed, “ignited” the need to “confer a Student Assembly and ‘yung agenda ay revision ng Student Handbook, ng SC Constitution, and the Omnibus Election Code,” which is one of her flagship platforms.
Carrying with her the lesson of accountability and intrepidly atoning for one’s mistakes, Bermudez thanked OPSA for the “chance of service” while expressing her apology before the CAS, promising more strengthened platforms during her tenure.
Bermudez will officially be proclaimed on Friday, October 13, marking the end of the presidential vacancy drama and the start of her roughly six-month incumbency.