Second public hearing focuses on
        constitutional violations
 
APPEARING BEFORE the impeachment tribunal with their legal counsels, Arts and Letters (Artlets) Student Council (ABSC) President Julius Fernandez and Vice-President for External Affairs Rhodel Sazon defended themselves from the allegations thrown against them by The Political Science Forum (TPSF), saying they did not violate any provision in the ABSC constitution.

In its second public hearing held last February 8, the Impeachment Tribunal, composed of the academic society presidents in Artlets, discussed the second article of impeachment filed against the defendants-the “willful or culpable violation of the ABSC Constitution” stated under Article XXII, Section 2-A.

Under this article of impeachment, the TPSF said the two officers violated the following provisions of the constitution: Article III, Section 2 (ABSC’s responsibility in organizing activities); Article III, Section 3 (the Council’s transparency); Article IV, Section 2 (students’ rights to public information); Article VIII, Section 3-C and 4-D (President’s and Vice President’s duty to coordinate all activities of the council).

Questionable veracity

In its impeachment complaint, the TPSF pointed out that both the defendants violated Article III, Section 2 (ABSC’s responsibility in organizing activities) by failing to incorporate the rules of The Search for Ideal Thomasian Personality (TSITP) to the faculty-wide pageant, thereby rendering Insignia as “irrelevant and dubious” and that Ms. Insignia Joliv Catiis’s non-qualification “confirmed…that the said activity had been detrimental to the socio-cultural formation of the Artlets studentry.”

Catiis, who stands 5’3’’, did not qualify to TSITP’s 5’4’’ minimum height requirement for female candidates, prompting the ABSC to tap Insignia Model of Life Angelica Tingcungco to represent the Faculty in the university-wide pageant.

However, the defense questioned the veracity of the impeachment complaint as “typographical errors” were present in the document. Apparently, the TPSF wrote “Article II, Section 2”, instead of “Article III, Section 2”, prompting Mark Kevin Dellosa, one of the two legal counsels of the defendants, to argue that “the complainants based (their complaint) from a different Constitution.”

Dellosa added that one of the objectives of Insignia as stated in its project proposal was “to come up with an ideal Artlet to represent [the Faculty] in TSITP.” Dellosa stressed that the objective of Insignia was to search for a “representative” who does not necessarily pertain to the winners of the faculty-wide pageant.
“That is why we have runners-up,” Dellosa said, adding that the ABSC had the autonomy from the Students Organization Coordinating Council (SOCC). He noted that the ABSC has the “right to make its own rules.”

In response, private prosecutor Tyrone Ong, a political science major, claimed that Insignia was a “deception.”

“By not complying or disregarding ABSC’s own set of objectives, this project was a mere deception,” he said in his rebuttal speech.

Question of transparency

The defense remained firm and said Fernandez and Sazon did not violate Article III, Section 3 (relaying of the Council’s official position to the administration and Faculty sectors) of the ABSC Constitution.

The TPSF accused the defendants of violating the said provision by failing to release an official statement regarding the non-qualification of Catiis and the reason for her inability to participate in the university-wide pageant. They also suspected the two officers of not “formally” relaying the TSITP rules to the administration.
Dellosa countered the allegation and said the council “verbally” relayed its official position to the administration and the faculty sectors about the issue.

Failure to disseminate

Fernandez and Sazon were also accused of violating Article IV, Section 2 (the right of every student to public information) by failing to disseminate the requirements of TSITP to the candidates of Insignia and their society presidents, and by not issuing an official statement to the Artlets community upon gaining knowledge of Catiis’ non-qualification to TSITP.

Defense legal counsel Maria Carmela Yumul presented Sazon as their witness to prove her clients’ supposed innocence. She examined Sazon and asked questions regarding the preparations made for Insignia.

Responding to the cross-examination done by Yumul, Sazon said an orientation of the Insignia candidates was done and crowned Ms. Political Science Eunice Robles was present during the said meeting.

Sazon further said that he explained the mechanics of the pageant to the candidates and he trusted Robles to relay the message to Catiis, who replaced the former due to her failure to comply with the grade requirement originally set forth by the organizers.

Yumul concluded that the defendants did not violate the said provision because “TPSF was informed of the pageant’s mechanics through Ms. Robles” in the October 8 orientation.

In the same cross-examination, Ong asked Sazon if he “relinquished” his duty as External Vice President to Robles by not personally conveying the pageant’s stipulations to Catiis.

Sazon replied in the affirmative, but the Board of Majors (BOM) ruled that the question was vague.

Fraudulent aims, fraudulent program

Yumul added aside from the fact that Fernandez coordinated the said project to the society presidents of the Faculty, Insignia itself was successful, thus proving Article VIII, Section 3-C (President to coordinate all activities of the council) of the ABSC Constitution was not violated.

However, Ong said the project had “fraudulent aims” and the Council organized a “fraudulent program” as they failed to consistently implement the rules and objectives they originally set forth.

Dellosa countered and said, “Prima facie, there are no violations made by the defendants, following the main mandate of the Constitution.”

“I pray for the non-conviction and non-impeachment of the two officers because they did not violate any grounds of the Artlets Constitution,” Dellosa added in a separate interview.

Another session will be scheduled after the senior BOM members have finished their thesis defense. It will be followed by a closed door decision-making and public announcement of the verdict of the Impeachment Tribunal.
 
Issues
 
 
By  LORENZ CHRISTOFFER S. MARASIGAN
Year 47 |  Issue 3 |  2011
Year 47 |  Issue 4 |  2012