Updated as of Oct. 3, 1:34 pm
THE POSITION of president in the Artlets Student Council (ABSC) would remain vacant after the sole candidate failed to secure more than half of the votes cast in the special pols, the Faculty of Arts and Letters Commission on Elections (AB Comelec) said.
After coordinating with the Board of Majors (BoM), AB Comelec released a resolution amending the proclamation of political science sophomore Denzelle Jude Caro as president as he obtained only 474 out of 1,065 votes.
“Jude Denzelle O. Caro, garnering only 474 votes, failed to attain a simple [majority of] 533 votes out of the 1,065 total votes. Now, therefore, the Commission hereby declares no candidate is elected as President in the Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council Executive Board,” the resolution read.
The winner shall be determined by a “simple majority vote,” meaning the candidate must acquire 50 percent plus one of the total votes, the poll body said, citing Article IX, Section 7 of the ABSC Constitution.
In Caro’s case, he needed at least 533 votes to win, but 591 Artlets left their ballots unanswered which is higher than the votes he acquired.
Meanwhile, DEKADA’s bet Frances Leisa Buensuceso is the newly-elected ABSC auditor, garnering 807 votes and 258 unanswered ballots.
AB Comelec initially proclaimed Caro as president on the basis of a simple majority vote, despite obtaining more unanswered votes.
However, several Artlets took to social media their sentiments saying that the decision was undemocratic.
“There’s a lot of unanswered ballots, where’s the democracy here?” a post on Twitter read.
“He won even though the majority left their ballots unanswered, what’s the point of conducting elections if it had already been decided,” another post written in Filipino read.
Some Artlets also mistook the unanswered votes as abstain, but the poll body said there is no abstain option provided in the ABSC constitution.
“The Local COMELEC unit may request the addition of the “abstain” vote on their local special elections, provided that they have a valid constitutional basis in their local student council constitution,” the AB Comelec said, citing Section 9 of Executive Order No. 03 Series of 2021-2022 of the UST Central Commission on Elections.
AB Comelec repealed the decision after BoM reviewed and decided that an unopposed candidate must acquire 50 percent plus one of the total votes.
However, former Central Student Council president and political science alumnus Francis Gabriel “Kiko” Santos wrote in a tweet that AB Comelec should have reviewed the provisions before the proclamation.
“My only concern is this: Dapat before proclaiming, alam na nila agad yung requirements ng election code (They should have known the requirements of the election code before the proclamation),” Santos said.
Last Sept. 25 AB Comelec apologized for the confusion regarding the simple majority vote provision.
“The AB COMELEC commits itself to be more mindful of its constitutional mandate and provide more devoted efforts in performing its duty. It shall continuously promote honesty and integrity in the electoral process to ensure that the true will of the electorate is upheld,” they wrote.
The Flame is still trying to reach Caro for his comment on the results of the special elections.
Comelec Chair Dan Gabriel Paradeza said the poll body would conduct another special election for the vacant positions of the president and the external vice president once the schedule permits.
Buensuceso said she would prioritize the addressing of the lack of platforms for student grievances and the holding of Athena’s Business Fair when she assumes her post as ABSC auditor.
“Since the preliminary period is fast approaching, concerns about examinations will be prioritized, followed by working with the administration to provide the best possible service for students, especially in issues related to lack of student help desk and student support,” she told The Flame.
“We will also keep collaborating with other societies for the different activities focused on helping and catering to the needs of the students.”
Buensuceso said the next step is preparing for the implementation of Athena’s Business Fair to give enough time for its promotion.
The fair would help students who resorted to online businesses during the pandemic and allow the Artlets to support business owners, she added.
Various organizations, Buensuceso said, should also guarantee the responsible allocation of student funds by signing a pledge of transparency.
“Students have the right to know where every centavo of the student fund is being spent. We will encourage the societies and interest organizations to sign a pledge of transparency where it states that they shall publicize its financial report to ensure students that funds are handled responsibly,” she said. F – Kristine Erika L. Agustin and Vanessa Noriko S. Yap