YR 47 Issue 1 2011
 
 
Issues
Student Council shake-up

     ABSC Pres, VP face impeachment raps;
        four officers resign from their posts
By LORENZ CHRISTOFFER S. MARASIGAN
The Arts and Letters Student Council (ABSC) is now experiencing a shake-up as an impeachment complaint was filed against President Julius Fernandez and External Vice President Rhodel Sazon, Jr. for “culpable violation of the ABSC constitution,” “gross negligence of duties,” and “abusive use of power”; while four other ABSC officers resigned from their posts.

THE POLITICAL Science Forum (TPSF) filed an impeachment complaint to the Board of Majors (BOM) against Arts and Letters Student Council (ABSC) President Julius Fernandez and External Vice President Rhodel Sazon, Jr., stating that they violated certain provisions in the ABSC constitution as organizers of Insignia 2011, the search for the epitomes of Artlet beauty, last November.

This was due to Ms. Arts and Letters (Artlets) and Political Science Senior Joliv Catiis’s disqualification to the Search for the Ideal Thomasian Personality (TSITP). The TPSF claimed that it was “gross negligence” on the part of ABSC for not relaying the rules of the University-wide pageant properly.

Catiis, who stands 5’3”, was not qualified to join the TSITP because the Student Organizations’ Coordinating Council (SOCC) requires a minimum of 5’4’’ and 5’6’’ for the female and male candidates, respectively.

Due to Catiis’ disqualification, Insignia first runner-up Angelica Tingcungco will represent the Faculty in TSITP. The ABSC earlier negotiated the case of Catiis with the SOCC, but the latter upheld their rules and refused to allow her to represent the Artlets in the University-wide pageant.

Constitutional violations

The TPSF filed the impeachment complaint against Fernandez and Sazon on December 14 and sent a series of petition to expedite the processing of the case.

According to the complaint, Fernandez violated six provisions of the ABSC Constitution namely: Article III, Section 2 (ABSC’s responsibility in organizing activities)
written in the complaint as Article II, Section 2; Article III, Section 3 (the Council’s transparency) written in the compliant as Article III, Section 2; Article IV, Section 2 (students’ right to public information); Article VIII, Section 3-C (President’s duty to coordinate all activities of the council); and Article XII, Section 2-A and 2-B (impeachment against Council officers due to: violation of the constitution and gross negligence of duties).

In a separate complaint, it was stated that Sazon violated eight provisions of the same constitution namely: Article II, Section 5 (presenting the Council’s position on matters concerning its welfare); Article III, Section 2 (ABSC’s responsibility in organizing activities); Article III, Section 3 (the Council’s transparency); Article IV, Section 2 (students’ right to public information); Article VIII, Section 4-A (VP External as next in command to the President); Article VIII, 4-D (supervising and coordinating projects and activities); Article XII, Section 2-B and 2-C (impeachment against Council officers due to: gross negligence of duties and abusive use of power).


All of the aforementioned violations as stated in the complaint stemmed out of the issue on the ABSC’s failure to relay SOCC’s requirements to the candidates and the societies.

“[Fernandez and Sazon] failed to disseminate the crucial requirements for the TSITP pageant towards the aspiring candidates and their respective society presidents,” a portion of the complaint read.

The complaint also stressed that the requirements of the University-wide pageant were not parallel to Insignia that “rendered the latter irrelevant and dubious and that the subsequent disqualification of crowned Ms. Artlets.”

It also noted that the defendants violated the provision on transparency due to the Council’s lack of initiative to immediately issue an official statement regarding the disqualification of Catiis. The TPSF accused the defendants of maladministration that resulted in a rumor regarding Catiis’s disqualification.

Furthermore, the TPSF said that the inconsistency in rules, which it stressed “has never happened to prior presidents,” was a result of their “incompetence” in the administration of their duties.

As of press time, Fernandez and Sazon are suspended from their posts. The ABSC Constitution stipulates that an official should be suspended after “a motion for impeachment has been submitted” against him or her.

TPSF President Jeshamar Villasis said that the impeachment case stemmed not only because of the aforementioned violations of the two defendants, but also due to earlier negligence committed on certain
occasions during the course of their terms.

Catiis said that the Insignia issue only “triggered” the TPSF in filing the complaints. Despite the allegations thrown against them, Fernandez and Sazon said that they did not violate any provision in the Artlets constitution. They refused to give additional details on the matter.

Bending of rules

Catiis said that her disqualification to the TSITP affected her to a great extent that she cried in front of the organizers of Insignia 2011 after Sazon broke the news to her.

“[What happened to me] was not fair because my right to join the pageant was taken away because of something I am not responsible of,” Catiis said.

She noted that being awarded as this year’s Ms. Artlets was “more than enough,” but she pointed that more than the title, she wanted to represent the Faculty in the TSITP.

“The mere fact that I was crowned Ms. Artlets gives me the right to represent my Faculty. It means that I am qualified for the next step which is TSITP,” she said.

She cried foul to the ABSC’s “negligence” and “inefficiency” for not applying the SOCC prescribed rules for TSITP in Insignia. Aside from the height requirement, she noted that the ABSC eventually allowed society representatives with failing marks to join Insignia.

“We only based Insignia’s requirements to the requirements of TSITP, but not entirely follow [it] because there are certain conditions that will not apply in Artlets,” Fernandez said.

Initially, the ABSC wanted to follow the requirements of the TSITP, however, “the society presidents expressed dismay on the late release of the TSITP rules. Our point is that, it is a tradition. They should have followed it even without us telling them,” Fernandez said.

He said that it was already late when the SOCC furnished them a copy of the requirements and the ABSC was already organizing Insignia that time.

Villasis lamented that the ABSC should have been strict in following the rules of the TSITP.

“What if they (candidates who incurred failing marks in some subjects) won as Mr. and Ms. Artlets?” Villasis asked. However, Fernandez noted that Insignia was held because “we are following the traditions set by the institution that we respect.”

“But on a personal note, [Insignia winners are there to] represent Artlets for Artlets, not necessarily for TSITP,” Fernandez said, stressing that Insignia winners are not crowned to “just represent the Faculty in the [University-wide] pageant.” “
Hindi lang sa pagre-represent sa pageant ang essence ng pagiging isang Insignia,” Fernandez said.

Supplementary complaint

During the first session of the impeachment proceedings held last January 30, Lead Prosecutor Jester Ivan Ricafrente from the TPSF filed a supplementary impeachment complaint against the defendants, stating the three instances when the latt er “betrayed” the Artlets community: the Insignia issue concerning Cati is’s disqualificati on in the TSITP, Fernandez’s continuous exercise of offi ce while being preventively suspended, and the ABSC’s failure to properly execute its task during an event partnership with TPSF.

Ricafrente noted in the supplementary complaint that Fernandez conti nuously exercised his power while being preventi vely suspended as he “easily consented the resignati on of ABSC Treasurer Mark Gil Quitoy”, even without proper reconciliati on and auditi ng of the ABSC fund. He added that Fernandez’s passiveness on the issue further violated provisions of the Artlets consti tuti on regarding the student body’s right to be informed on the funds of the student council, and the duty of officers to protect the security and integrity
of the ABSC and Artlets community from any kind of abuse.

However, the Impeachment Tribunal refused to tackle the additi onal grounds for impeachment against Fernandez and Sazon “for [they] sti ll have to review the legal rules” concerning them.

As of press ti me, the impeachment proceedings sti ll have not reached any closure. The BOM will set another public hearing in February.

Height requirement

The height requirement imposed by the SOCC in organizing TSITP gathered negative reactions from the Artlets community. Literature Professor Ferdinand Lopez asked why the SOCC discriminates candidates based on height.

“The size of your brain is not proportionate to the size of your body,” he said stressing that the contest “is looking for an ‘ideal personality’.”

Philosophy student Grace Giruha said that the mechanics for next year’s pageant should be refurbished. She sarcasiti cally wrote on ABSC’s Facebook page, “
Edi sana sa simula pa lang ‘yung pinakamatangkad na contestant na ang ipinanalo nila kung sa height lang din magkakatalo.

Communicati on Arts student Racine Castro said that she does not agree with the height requirement as “there is no correlati on between height and the purpose of the pageant.” Fernandez also expressed dismay over the height requirement, saying that it is not the right standard to determine true beauty. “
Sino ba ang may karapatang magsabi ng maganda at pangit?” Fernandez asked. “Is height even a valid standard for beauty?” Meanwhile, Villasis said that height is not proporti onate to beauty.

“It is quite ironic considering this insti tuti on upholds the values of equality [and] justi ce, but there is discriminati on to women who do not reach that certain height,” Villasis said. “Height does not equate to the greatness and excellence of a woman.”

Cati is stressed that the University-wide pageant searches for a “personality” and that height is not vital in looking for it.

“The ti tle of the pageant says it all. What you are looking for is the character that he or she possesses,” she said. However, according to SOCC President Rolando Gatmaitan, the height requirement has been applied every year since TSITP started

He further said in an online interview that they had a meeti ng with Local Student Councils last semester to discuss the requirements for the TSITP along with three other projects. “Even if we wanted to, we cannot alter the rules in the middle of the contest,” Gatmaitan said.

Quitoy’s resignati on

Adding up to the above-menti oned issues, ABSC Treasurer Mark Gil Quitoy resigned from his post as per ABSC Memorandum- 002 issued last January 23, stating “personal reasons” as the cause of his resignation.

Quitoy, a Politi cal Science junior, noted that his “inability to [balance his] problems from his personal life and responsibilities… led to mediocre performance as an officer which delayed some council aff airs in the past month[s].”

“I believe that lack of ti me, peace of mind, and strength are not enough reasons to justi fy my inability in fully giving myself to serving the students...[but] I am afraid I am no longer fi t for the positi on and staying might negati vely aff ect the total performance of the enti re council,” he stated in the lett er.

Fernandez refused to elaborate on it due to “sensitive” matters regarding the issue.

ABSC Public Relati ons Offi cer Ace Quebal said in a separate interview that the council was actually against the resignati on of Quitoy, but ABSC advisers and professors Cresencio Doma and Corazon Dumawal approved his resignati on provided that “he will pay for the money lost due to mishandling of funds”

“He will not graduate unti l he completed the payment for the lost money,” Quebal said.

The
Flame tried to get the side of Quitoy but he did not respond to our queries. Meanwhile, ABSC Vice President for Internal Aff airs Kathryn Caday, Secretary Patricia Mae Esclabanan, and Public Relati ons Offi cer Ace Dominic Quebal also resigned from their posts and expressed their interest to run again in the next ABSC elections.

The only officer left in the ABSC to handle its affairs is Auditor Carmela Therese Avante.
F

TIMELINE
What happened before?

THE POLITICAL Science Forum (TPSF) sent Joliv Cati is, senior Politi cal Science student, as their representative
for this year’s Mr. and Ms. Arts and Lett ers pageant held last November. Cati is was crowned as Ms. Artlets 2011 and was introduced as the Faculty’s offi cial representati ve to the Search for the Ideal Thomasian Personality (TSITP).

On December 7, applicati ons for TSITP were given to candidates and a height requirement of 5’4” for the female candidates and 5’6” for the males were imposed by the Students Organizati ons Coordinati ng Council (SOCC).

Cati is, who stands 5’3” was disqualified to join the pageant prompting ABSC External Vice President Rhodel Sazon to tap Ms. Artlets fi rst runner-up Angelica Tingcungco to represent the Faculty in the Universitywide pageant.

On December 8, ABSC President Julius Fernandez sent a lett er to the SOCC asking for the lift ing of the height provision from the rules as “height is not relevant in…[determining] a Thomasian personality,” but the latter upheld the rule.

The TPSF fi led an impeachment complaint last December 14 against Fernandez and Sazon for violati ng the
ABSC consti tuti on due to their alleged “irresponsibility and ineffi ciency.”

On December 15, a moti on was fi led by the TPSF for the considerati on of their prosecuti ng team. It also filed a supplementary moti on that asked the Board of Majors (BOM) to immediately implement the preventi ve suspension on the two offi cials.

The BOM then decided to impose a preventi ve suspension on Fernandez and Sazon as sti pulated in Arti cle XII, Secti on 4 of the ABSC Consti tuti on. Another moti on was fi led on January 5 by the TPSF for the BOM to consider an alternate prosecuti ng team.

A public trial was set on January 30 which resulted to the fi ling of supplementary impeachment complaints by Lead Prosecutor Jester Ivan Ricafrente from the TPSF.

However, the BOM refused to tackle the additi onal grounds against the defendants “for [they] sti ll have to review the legal rules” concerning them.

The next public hearing is yet to be announced by the BOM who stands as the impeachment tribunal for this
proceeding.
Year 47 |  Issue 3 |  2011
Year 47 |  Issue 4 |  2012