Sengson: Bagcal case won by “numbers game”

“Tatlo lamang kami sa loob ng konseho. Kung numbers game ang labanan, talong-talo talaga kami.”

That was how the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSPSC) decided on the impeachment case filed against its chair, Jay Bagcal, said Councilor Peter Sengson in the Jan. 20 convocation.

The convocation capped off the series of events rooting from the submission of the proposal to amend the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS). (see timeline)

Members of the majority party Buklod CSSP strongly disagreed with Sengson. CSSP representative Tin Borja said it was “unfair” to accuse Buklod members of block voting.

Five Buklod members did not sign the proposal.

“The majority party is divided on the (submission of the) proposal,” said Borja. “It simply means the party does not coerce us aside from that which we think is right.”

'Buklod Council'

In a series of interviews conducted by SINAG, Sengson said people may think he is biased, but voting records on important decisions, especially on political issues, show party lines.

Meanwhile, CSSPSC Secretary General Ian Cortez said the Buklod members should have had a “monolithic vote” if there was “Buklod Council” within the CSSPSC.

Bagcal said, “We are CSSP students and CSSP students know how to think. They know how to listen and know how to argue... I don't mean to badmouth Peter Sengson, but I think it's a tendency in the minority to see things in the council as numbers game.”

Linguistics representative Casey Giron changed her mind about the divide within the council when not all Buklod members signed the amendments. But that was reversed again when the council voted 3-16 in favor of Bagcal's acquittal during the impeachment trial.

Proposals in Buklod platforms

The co-authors of the proposal argued that due to “special circumstances” resulting from typhoon Ondoy, consultations, in the form of surveys, could be held after the submission of the proposal. The council can withdraw the proposal if the students expressed their opposition.

The co-authors said the fact that the students elected them into office means they believe in the amendments, which they espoused in their platforms.

Veda Marie Vedan, Chair of Saligan-affliated organization Praxis, said the opinion of the students may have changed since the co-authors were elected into office.

“Maniniwala pa ako kung kahapon lang sila binoto pero hindi naman diba?” said Vedan.

Vedan said the council conducted no small group discussions or forums and the campaign was purely information dissemination.

SR extension

Giron told SINAG that Bagcal should have still asked the SR for an extension, even if members of other student council had told the CSSPSC chair that their requests had been denied. Sengson added that Ondoy was a valid reason to ask for an extension, if only the option was considered in the first place.

“The CRSRS does not confer upon the OSR any capacity to decide whether such proposals to amend submitted to its office are valid or not,” the CSSPSC said in its appeal, saying it was for the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) to decide.

Camino said the appeal was denied in the end, even if the CSSPSC had made the amendments an official stand through the Oct. 7 GA. The SR said the act had become official only after the Oct. 1 deadline.

Sengson and Giron said the invalidation of the proposal validated their stand. Bagcal, on the other hand said it was “very frustrating.”

“Politicking aside, it was a sincere move from me to better the mechanism for the selection of the student regent,” Bagcal said.

Better planning

Many council members felt better planning was the best way to avoid problems like these from happening in the future.

“Napakahaba ng time na binibigay ng CRSRS para pagusapan ang mga ganitong bagay,” said Seng-son, adding that July could have been CRSRS month instead of September.

Turingan called for more a strengthened publicity effort and closer coordination with SINAG, while Cortez called for streamlining of council activities.

Pro student (council)

Bagcal urged the students to leave the issue behind but take from it the lessons they could.

“When I think back, I tend to be emotional about what's happened. I have my face on the line. I have my whole year of being a student council on the line,” said Bagcal. “The face of the council is on the line.”

“I feel like everything was taken away from me. It's really sad,” he said.

On the other side of the fence, Vedan urged the next student council to become more accountable.

“Hindi sila pro student, pro student council sila,” said Vedan.

Sengson said this was a reflection of what kind of council has served the students for the past year.

“Dito napakita kung kaninong interes nagsisilbi yung bawat isa,” said Sengson. ▪

Article by: Alexandra Francisco and Jane Fabula