By MARIA EDEN T. DINO
THERE IS now a possibility of special elections for the vacant positions in the Arts and Letters Student Council (ABSC).
Although the UST Commission on Elections (Comelec) proclaimed Central Student Council (CSC) bets with the highest number of votes next to “abstain” as winners of the student elections, the poll body will not direct its local units to perform the same action, Central Comelec Chairperson Arvin Bersonda said.
“The resolution of the CJB (Central Judiciary Board) did not expressly state that its resolution will affect local elections and proclamation. Therefore, the UST Central Comelec will not order its local units to proclaim the second highest candidates next to ‘abstain,’” Bersonda said during the proclamation of new CSC officers on Friday.
“We, acting as a regulatory collegiate body, have decided to abide by the final ruling of the CJB and the interest of stability in our student government. We would like to assure the Thomasian student community that this whole affair will not happen ever again,” Bersonda added.
The Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) Comelec will release a resolution next week regarding the decision of the CJB and its application to the Faculty, AB Comelec Chairperson Ayla Salapare told the Flame.
The Central Comelec proclaimed the new CSC officers, following the CJB resolution dated Aug. 17, which prohibited the Central Board to intervene in the case and upheld the judiciary board’s earlier decision to proclaim CSC candidates with the highest number of votes next to “abstain.”
Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) standard bearer and medical technology student Steven Grecia, who earned 12,596 votes but was previously denied victory by 15,803 abstentions, is the new CSC president.
LTC vice presidential bet and speech language pathology student Gabriela Sepulchre is the new CSC vice president with 10,130 votes, despite 13,169 abstentions for the position.
Marketing management student Daveson Jay Nieto (LTC), who obtained 9,446 votes, is the new CSC treasurer despite 13,088 abstentions, while accountancy student Richard Lynus Javier (LTC) is the new CSC auditor with 10,212 votes, as opposed to 13,329 abstentions for the position.
The Central Comelec is undertaking efforts to reform the UST Students’ Election Code of 2011 to clarify and affirm the definition of abstention vote and other revisions related to the shift in the academic calendar, Bersonda said after the proclamation.
“We would like to assure the Thomasian student community that this whole affair will not happen ever again. […] We look forward to endeavor and ask for support of the Thomasian community as we move forward to make UST a more democratic institution,” he added.
ABSC president Reymark Simbulan, a member of the Central Board, expressed his dismay over the decision of the CJB.
“Although I am very thankful that there exists the autonomy of the Local COMELECs to the Central COMELEC, I am still very disheartened that this was the resolution we have arrived at for UST Halalan 2017,” Simbulan told the Flame in an online exchange.
“Personally, I am settled with the composition of the ABSC Executive Board right now. But along with the Artlet electorate who voted last April, I wish to witness students running in special elections to fill the vacant posts and not through finding loopholes in the existing charters,” he added.
Grecia, together with ABSC vice president for internal affairs candidate Daniela Frigillana, previously filed a petition before the CJB, questioning the Central Comelec’s interpretation of abstentions as rejection of candidates by Thomasians and arguing that “abstain” is not a vote. F