NEWS | Adducul and Frondoso, up first in USC final deliberations

The Commission of Appointments (CA) hosted the first session of the final deliberations for the 42nd University of the Philippines Manila University Student Council (UPM USC) featuring Sulong — UPM’s councilor nominees Carl Angelique Adducul and Beatriz Erica Frondoso last July 17. The nominees first presented their proposed plan of actions for the following academic year and were then interpellated by the members of the CA.

As the official appointing body of the 42nd USC, the CA is headed by the University Electoral Board (UEB), alongside the incumbent 41st USC members, and representatives of the different College Student Councils (CSCs).

Presentation of the nominees

First to present was Adducul, who served as the UPM USC People’s Struggles Committee Co-Head this academic year, and is now running as Councilor for People’s Struggles. Upon stating that one of her main focus as councilor would be holding the Duterte regime for its negligence and for passing the unconstitutional Anti-Terror Law (ATL), she enumerated her projects, which include: Kapihan sa USC: Alternative Education Program, Balik-Komyu: Basic Masses Integrations (BMI), and Kabataan, Atin ang Bukas: Voter’s Education Campaign.

In addition, her proposal to establish a Red Alert Committee, which aims to ensure continuous assistance of the UPM administration to students that are red-tagged, gained much attention. Adducul said that the key to ensuring the safety of the committee members would be through constant communication and lobbying to the Chancellor and conducting training on how to face this matter. She added that she could also reach out to the UP College of Law and National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) as the issue of redtagging remains widespread.

Throughout her whole presentation, Adducul emphasizes one thing and that is she firmly believes in the power that educating the public and organizing the masses holds.

Subsequently, Frondoso, who is running as Councilor for Health and Environment, presented her flagship projects which include: Balik Paaralan at Bakuna, Environment din!, and the Alyansa ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan.

Claiming that she would tackle issues in a preventive way, Frondoso explained that the formation of the Medical Alliance for People’s Struggles, under her Alyansa Project, is relevant despite the current remote learning set-up. Reiterating that as long as social ills continue to exist, coupled with the abysmal government response, it is very important to mobilize people and voice out the public’s dissent.

Furthermore, as she and her running mates continue to call for a safe return to face-to-face classes, she lobbied the importance of her “Environment din!” project, which includes the installations of water refilling stations, on-campus recycling, and landscaping. Sooner or later, she said, students will benefit from this once they are back on campus. This will also ensure the safety of the students and act as a safeguard for them not to contract the novel coronavirus.

One with the masses

As Iskolars ng Bayan themselves and probable future representatives of the UPM student body, the CA asked the nominees on their stance on national issues which affects a wider range of subjects, the masses. Incumbent UPM USC Chairperson Prince Turtogo asked the candidates which three national issues they consider as the most pressing ones.

According to Adducul, the three main issues are the inaccessibility of education due to the distance learning set-up, the worsening pandemic, and mass unemployment. Meanwhile, for Frondoso, it is the looming health concerns of the student body, the remote learning set-up, and the unilateral abrogation of the UP — Department of National Defense (DND) Accord.

Both implied that the root cause of these issues is the incompetence of the Duterte administration, furthering that the only way to solve these is through Duterte’s ouster and educating the masses.

In relation to their respective posts, the nominees were also asked specific questions. Adducul was asked how she will explain the issue of Lumad Killings to students, to which she responded that it is through continuous education and basic mass integration that one can fully understand the plight of the Lumads. Nonetheless, she reminded the student body that they should fight together with the Lumads for their rights.

Comparatively, Frondoso was asked whether she agrees on the Universal Health Care Law. She responded by saying that she does not agree and that she firmly stands for genuine health care. One that is free for all and not reliant on the insurance system.

Problem at the grassroots level

It is no secret that the UPM student body faces numerous problems, which were already existing before and worsened by the current education set-up. As both nominees affirm that education is a right, they address the problems hindering the students from receiving this right.

One of the most controversial issues is the existence of the Return Service Agreement (RSA) for students from the white colleges. Both Adducul and Frondoso share the same sentiments of wanting to stop and review/reform the RSA.

Adducul added that they would also take extra steps in order to ensure that incoming freshmen students will be well-educated on the contents of the RSA and why it is wrong, reiterating that this contract only passes a big burden to the students. With regards to the impending implementation of the RSA to the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) students, she added that she will be in close contact with the committee in charge of the RSA.

Another issue is the declining mental health of UPM Students, to which Frondoso pointed out the strength and weaknesses of the current mental health services available. She named the implementation of these (mental health) programs as the sole strength of it and named the slow response and inaccessibility of these services as its weaknesses.

With the aforementioned statements, she aims to improve it by crafting better programs which will truly address the needs of the students and make it available 24/7. She ensures the body that even the slightest concerns will be given solutions, accommodating all mental health concerns of the students.

Finally, acknowledging the low student participation, manifested through the low voter turnouts in recent USC elections, both nominees hope to revitalize the student body’s engagement through their proposed programs. Adducul’s voter education project will tap the help of different organizations and utilize all possible social media platforms, such as Tiktok and Twitter, to do so. In addition, Frondoso attributed the low student participation to the congested academic workload of students and she proposed to address this problem once elected.

Meanwhile, as part of Frondoso’s plan is the regular COVID-19 sensing projects, which aims to a deeper understanding of the students’ conditions and situations as many are faced with academic and personal difficulties amidst the pandemic. She would also opt to partner with the existing UPM Bayanihan Na! Employee Symptoms Tracking System (BESTS) project, whose main focus is for COVID-19 contact tracing of students and faculty.

In the end, the two nominees pledged that once elected as USC councilors, they will ultimately uphold honor and excellence at all times.

The second session of the final deliberations will occur on July 24 and will feature the three remaining nominees namely, Vice Chairperson nominee Querobin Acsibar, Councilor for Culture and Arts nominee Ariane Joyce Kekim, and Councilor for Students’ Rights and Welfare and Basic Services nominee Edzel Gail Macasu. The final deliberations will stand as the basis for the final selection session of the CA on July 31 and the official proclamation of the 42nd USC on August 2.

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