So Wrong

Innumerable posters and tarpaulins are now displayed in roads, as if a grand feast is approaching. Commercials promising change while lauding a candidate’s credentials are aired repeatedly over televisions and radios and printed on dailies. Politicians spend outrageous sums on these campaigns, even surpassing what’s allowed by law. These are the main features of Philippine Elections.

Although disgusted by these things, I am still thankful because I believe that student council candidates in our university do not, and will never, follow these ‘trapos.’ I am confident that as Iskolars ng Bayan, we are responsible enough to fulfill our duties as good citizens and to abide by laws governing us, be it in our university, communities, organizations, or state.

But I was wrong.

As I walked along Ylanan Street one morning, I discovered what disproved my assumption: a campaign poster of a ‘glowing’ candidate posted at a road signage post.

Section 1 of the Revised UPD Student Electoral Code, prohibits the posting of election materials in places not meant for posting. Posting on that road signage was prohibited, it was a violation of election rules.

There were other forms of election violations in the university. A picture of a ‘burning’ candidate was used as desktop background of computers in an internet shop at Shopping Center. There is no provision allowing multimedia promotions or multimedia posters or paraphernalia to be used, except in blog sites or social networking sites. It was therefore another violation.

Another example is a candidate’s tarpaulin posted outside a jeep. According to Dr. Josefina Andrea Cantiller, CSSP College Secretary and Chairperson of the College Student Electoral Board, although posting in jeeps is now allowed, posters are only allowed inside the vehicle with the driver’s permission. Thus, it was another violation.

I won’t be surprised if those events happened outside campus. Election violations are so rampant in our country because of poor implementation, and perhaps interpretation, of pertinent laws. This is aggravated by scarce public scrutiny. However, for these to happen in a university where laws and rules are regarded as binding to everyone, and students are molded to be responsible leaders and law-abiders, such violations are surprising, disgusting and disappointing.

Candidates would say that these actions were done beyond their discretion because their supporters were responsible for those acts. But if these candidates were responsible and very mindful of the rules, then they would tell their supporters to abide by them too.

Although there have been lots of violations observed in campus, only a few cases were addressed. Most were left unnoticed. I didn’t hear anything about the candidates mentioned above getting questioned or punished for their violations.

This goes to show that we get so excited with the level of politics in our university that we tend to forget vital rules made to create fairness and order in the elections. If this prevails, we can expect our council elections to lose integrity and become similar to Philippine Elections--marred by violations and controversies. Our university’s failure to uphold its duty of developing vigilant and law-abiding individuals while nourishing their critical reasoning will give birth to another set of irresponsible citizens.