NEWS | UPM UEB eyeing special elections start on September 20, USC commits on increasing student involvement
By Mai Allauigan and Angela Vanessa Manuel
The University of the Philippines Manila University Student Council (UPM USC) and University Electoral Board (UEB) convened last September 13 to address the upcoming special elections aimed to begin on September 20 and conclude by October 25. The need for the special election arose from the fact that the current 43rd UPM USC remains short-staffed having multiple positions left unmanned, including the standard-bearer position. Both student-led institutions also laid down points of improvement following the conduct from the previous general elections.
Six positions are waiting to be filled in this coming special election. These are the five USC councilors and the USC Chairperson.
According to the UEB provisional calendar, which is expected to be released next week, the filing of candidacies will run from September 23 to September 30. Meanwhile, they will also open registration for manual voting applications from September 20 until October 8.
The campaign period will then commence from October 9 to October 12, while the convocations and Miting de Avance (MDAs) will be conducted from October 10 to October 15. After which, the voting period will last from October 17 to October 22, with the canvassing and official results to be conducted on October 24. The proclamation will happen the following day, October 25.
With regard to the amendments, the USC reiterated that the amended UPM Election Code dated May 28, 2022, shall still take effect in the upcoming elections. Amendments outlined in the Code include campaign-related provisions as well as the retained rule on the Determination of Winners.
However, possible additional amendments cannot be applied to the Code until the next election cycle — or the 2023 General Elections and the likely special elections thereafter. There is also a pressing need for all the councils to consult such amendments to the student body.
The UEB also affirmed their continuous involvement and consultation concerning the amendments. Moreover, they are eyeing more significant changes, such as the institutionalization of their Volunteer Staff’s annual recruitment and other administrative amendments.
Post-general elections evaluation
During the meeting, both the UEB and USC assessed the conduct of the 2022 UPM general elections held last June to August. This election saw the proclamation of vice-chairperson Mark Angelo del Rosario and councilors Celeste Alcantara and Rebecca Baliton. The final voter turnout was then recorded at 47.84%.
Despite the relatively low turnout, the UEB was quick to point out that the students were more participative this time. It was mainly manifested by the active involvement of volunteers from the student body who worked hand-in-hand with the board. They also noted their increased social media presence as a factor that influenced students’ participation.
In addition, they highlighted the improved transferability of the ballot system this time around. The UEB utilized a new software application called Qualtrics and expounded that they have enough knowledge about the software which made it easier to use, as compared to the 2019 mode of elections.
On the other hand, both the UEB and USC agreed that the low number of candidates is an issue that continues to plague the student elections. Last time, there were only a total of six candidates, of which one ran for vice-chairperson and five for councilors, for the supposed eight-man council. To address this, the USC vowed to forge stronger relationships with political organizations in hopes that they could persuade prospective candidates from their membership to serve the student body.
With the voting period expected to last from October 17 to October 22, several improvements on the logistics of the special elections are being planned by the UEB, such as the reorganization of volunteer staff and the acquisition of the data masterlist of freshies, shiftees, and transferees.
It is to be expected that the UEB will continue the use of Qualtrics for easier access of the students. Official announcements regarding the matter will be disseminated to the student body, through the UEB’s official Facebook page, starting next week.