ABSC Treasurer bet admits to losing funds; vows urgency in Council finances

Zadie San Juan, ABSC treasurer candidate under the banner of Student Democratic Party. Art by Raymond Vince Manaloto/THE FLAME

THE LONE treasurer candidate under the banner of Student Democratic Party (SDP) has admitted to losing money from the funds of the Artlets Student Council (ABSC) while serving as its Executive Associate of Finance.

During the miting de avance last Nov. 17 for the Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) special elections, Asian studies sophomore Zadie San Juan said she covered the cost of the money amounting to P1,000 that she claimed was “misplaced or unintentionally spent” during this academic year’s Welcome Walk.  

The ABSC’s finance committee is tasked with filing budget proposals for the Council’s events and projects.

“During the welcome walk, we accounted the money. Basically we counted it first before the auditing. Maayos yung account. However, when we were auditing it, there was that amount where we did not know where it went,” San Juan said.

“Personally, I myself admitted that I lost some money while I was holding it. It’s either misplaced or spent unintentionally because those were the new bills when it came out at that time that were still attached to the other bills,” she added.

ABSC Auditor: Handling finances requires honesty, integrity

In a Facebook post last Nov. 18, ABSC auditor Joseph Coronel clarified some claims made by San Juan regarding the mishandled funds, explaining that the candidate spent P14 from her own account but reimbursed P1,000 for herself. 

“The Council mysteriously lost approximately Php 1,000 from its funds during the Thomasian Welcome Walk activities in August 2023,” he said in a statement.

During the miting de avance, San Juan claimed she insisted on making a statement regarding the incident, “Actually, I’m not sure then why (there was no report about this), but I insisted (in making one) since it is the money of AB.”

The ABSC auditor, in his post, said otherwise.

“She has never mentioned nor insisted, both in an online or onsite conversation, [on] releasing a statement. It is also not true that the Council disapproved of releasing such a statement.”

Coronel added that San Juan’s lapses, such as failure to file budget proposals, led to a “massive halt” on the Council’s financial status.

“The committee headed by the candidate has failed to file the necessary papers for the budget requests for all events and projects for the month of September,” the ABSC auditor said. “[This] led to numerous student leaders and faculty members chipping in their own money to make the events and projects look possible.”

“Handling the Council’s financial and auditing affairs requires honesty and integrity. Creating false statements and narratives do not exhibit the qualities needed for the assumption of the responsibility of safeguarding funds by and for all Artlets,” he added.

In an interview with The Flame, Coronel said the incident was resolved immediately and is not reflected in both the expense and transparency report.

“The incident was sorted out in a meeting and it did not last long enough to be reflected [in] our expense report,” he said. 

Artlets Student Council’s (ABSC) expense report for the Thomasian Welcome Walk 2023. (Courtesy of Joseph Lorsan Coronel)

The Flame has tried to reach San Juan to get her side but has yet to receive a response. 

Assuring swiftness in finances

Despite a history of mishandled funds, San Juan proposed her “Restoring Faith” platform that aims to streamline the process of acquiring finances, which she claimed has previously faced delays from the AB administration.

The treasurer candidate added that the program would implement the use of one bank account per society and two bankbooks held by the AB administration and program societies.

“With that platform, alongside with the admin, we will really take into account the expenses and everything,” she said.

“The ABSC and AB administration will open a current balance and transaction between the two,” her campaign material read. “Once approved, we will be the ones to withdraw, so we will not wait for the admin… So, we will get [the funds] immediately.”

San Juan also proposed the “Gabay Serbisyo” program to improve the communication channels between the administration and Artlet societies through the creation of a finance counseling committee headed by her and other society treasurers. 

The lone candidate said the finance counseling committee would address concerns on budget proposals, cash advances and event planning. 

The AB Commission on Elections will open the voting period for the local special elections from Nov. 20 to 25. Artlets may vote from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. F – Erwin James Gianan and Trisha Tamio 

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