USC admits tension among members after trial

By Camille Aguinaldo

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Councillor Lem Magaling faced an impeachment rap from his colleagues in the University Student Council which was eventually dismissed. Photo by Christelle Delvo.

Towards the end of the first semester, the University Student Council (USC) held an impeachment trial against Education and Research Committee Head Councilor Lemuel “Lem” Magaling.

Magaling incurred a total of 6.5 demerits points, enough to suspend and put him to trial. After five trial sessions, charges were dropped and he was reinstated as USC councilor.

Three months after the trial, Councilor Magaling still felt offended for being subjected in the trial.

Na-discount yung fact dun sa ginagawa mo outside and inside USC. Nag-manifest lang sa student council ay negative na ginagawa mo (The fact of what you did outside and inside USC went discounted. What you do becomes negative when it manifests in the student council),” he said.

Former Secretary-General Rafael Fernando, who recently resigned from his post, said there had been changes between the relationships of USC members before and after the trial.

“The dynamic of the council was relatively harmonious before the charges were pressed, with the majority of the members working together cohesively. During the trial, this dynamic was gradually lost,” he said.

Before the trial, tensions were felt between council members while deliberations are being discussed as to whether Magaling should be impeached or not.

The trial also led to the resignation of Fernando as secretary-general. According to USC chairperson Alex Castro, Fernando’s parents feared the safety of their son who was implementing the demerit system. Cases of death threats and damage to property happened to other USC members.

Nevertheless, an open forum was done during their semestral planning after the trial to reestablish the dynamics of USC members.

Inaddress din namin na personally, nagkakaroon din talaga ng tension sa loob. We didn’t want to proceed with the rest of our term na ganon (We also address the matter personally but there is still tension inside the USC),” Castro said.

Furthermore, Castro mentioned the trial opened up issues of accountability to students and proper work ethics.

Under the demerit system, Magaling was suspended for exceeding more than six demerits due to unexcused absences, unathorized use of USC logo and unapproved publicity material (pubmat).

Magaling expressed his dissent with the demerit system because of its strictness. External activities of council members were not considered.

Mga estudyante lahat tayo dito kaya alam nating lahat ang circumstances ng bawat isa. Kapag magkakaroon ng mga measures na ganito, naniniwala tayo na hindi siya dapat ganitong kahigpit (We are all students here so we know the circumstances of every one. When we implement such measures, we believe that it should not be this stringent),” he said.

Furthermore, the demerit system created an ambiance that council members are being scrutinized for one wrong move to be penalized immediately, said Magaling.

However, Castro said that it was effective because council members are more careful with the rules of the USC.

Council members become more conscious of their conduct inside because they know that there is a system in place that would hold them accountable if ever they break the rules, she said.

The demerit system, according to Castro, is consistent with other council members. In fact, the College of Education representative, Shamah Bulangis, was dropped from the roll recently because of excessive absences.

The USC released their attendance matrix as of August 30, the same day Magaling was suspended. The attendance indicated that 24 of 34 council members had demerit points. Three college representatives and a councilor were close to suspension, having more than half the maximum allowable number of demerit points.

Table 1. Top 9 USC with the highest demerit points

Name

Demerit points

Position

Lem Magaling

6.5

Councilor

Shamah Bulangis

5.5

Educ College Representative

Aio Santos

5

Councilor

Aika Yague

5

CSWCD College Representative

Dave Terante

4.5

SLIS College Representative

Erica Lau

3

Councilor

Isay Aurellado

3

CHK College Representative

Erra Zabat

2.5

Councilor

Stef Quintin

2.5

Music College Representative

Source: USC 2013-2013 Attendance Matrix (as of August 30, 2013)

Yet Magaling revealed that some council members get away from attendance without getting reprimanded.

I find it unfair sa part ko na tinamaan ako and the rest, hindi natatamaan (For my part, I find it unfair that I was jeopardized while the rest were not),” he said.

The trial also put to question USC’s transparency. Nevertheless, Castro said documents of the council are open to the public. They regularly invite students from other publications and forward decisions and other announcements to local councils.

The council urges the administration instead to elevate its level of transparency and accountability.

Unresponsive yung admin sa request namin. Gusto rin kasi namin mapakita sa students yung transparency sa documents, UP Budget or contract ng UP Town Center or Technohub na hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa nila linalabas (The administration is unresponsive to our request. We want to show the students the transparency in documents, UP Budget or the contract of UP Town Center or Technohub, which were not yet released),” she said.

Watch UPJC’s interview with Alex Castro and Lem Magaling:

Alex Castro on USC dynamics

Lem Magaling on the demerit system

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