Alamares wins USC chair post with pink campaign amid questions on previous term

Leading with thousands of votes against League of Liberal Reformists (LLR) - Reporma Coalition and Bicol University (BU) Leaders: League of Democrats rivals, independent candidate Stacy Daniel Alamares is officially announced as the University Student Council (USC) chairperson for Academic Year 2024 - 2025 during the declaration of results on May 13.

Initially a disqualified candidate, Alamares amassed 7,673 votes in the elections, placing standard bearers Dylan Zinead Xiv Tanji of LLR-Reporma Coalition and Reinnard Balonzo of BU Leaders in second and third places, respectively.

“It’s really overwhelming kasi nag flashback ngayon lahat ‘yung hard work since day one. I’ve been disqualified, and then ‘yung campaign season, ‘yung mag-isa akong nagka-campaign, ‘yung pag-asikaso ng campaign materials. I’m feeling really overwhelmed and, at the same time, super thankful ko po talaga sa mga [BUeño]. Maraming maraming salamat po sa tiwala nila sa akin,” Alamares said when asked about her proclamation as the new USC chairperson.

Turning independent

Formerly under LLR-Reporma, Alamares decided to run in this year’s student elections as an independent candidate after Tanji was selected as the party’s standard bearer, as confirmed by Alamares in an interview with The Bicol Universitarian.

According to her, she bears no grudges nor hate against her former slate and is grateful for all the knowledge she gained from being its member.

“We have to respect ‘yung decision nila na opo, isa po ako sa mga options na ipapatakbo nila for CSR pero hindi po ako ‘yung pinili… If that’s what they think is the best decision for the party, nirerespeto ko po ‘yun,” Alamares said.

Despite being declined as the standard bearer for LLR-Reporma, she established her name as the lone independent candidate in the 2024 USC race amid the absence of independent runners in BU’s student political landscape for a decade.

“I am proud to say na dahil sa support ng mga naniniwala sa’kin, sa tiwala na binigay ko sa sarili ko kahit mahirap, at syempre sa hard work and effort na binigay namin ng team ko along with the support of the students, nagkatotoo po ‘yung goal na ito,” she remarked.

With no banner to represent, Alamares and her public relations team decided to make her platform represent “BU Shine” with pink as her campaign color.

According to Jorene de Vera, one of the members of her election core team, Alamares is known to be a “pink girl,” hence her decision to integrate it into publicity materials during the campaign season.

“Sa palagay ko pinili niya ang pink sa kampanya na ‘to di lang sa favorite color niya kundi sumisimbolo ito sa compassion, love, and tenderness na tugma sa gusto niyang gawin sa bawat [BUeño] bilang isang student leader, and it represents her as a person,” de Vera said.

Despite several theories that Alamares banked on the “pink movement” of former Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, he denied that the political move was associated with the latter’s slant during the 2022 national elections.

He also argued that the distinct pink color being linked to Robredo was initiated by students and supporters themselves, while Alamares was only set to be remembered by the student body through her experience as a student leader, a sister, and a person.

“Stacy [Alamares] has always been pink and [will] be remembered as pink. ‘Di po ito dahil hinahanay ang sarili niya kay Leni [Robredo], but inside [BU], Stacy [Alamares] is pink,” de Vera added.

USC under a pink leadership

A decade after the last independent candidate won as USC chairperson, Alamares will now stand as the face of the council despite the elected officers hailing from different political parties.

“Napatunayan ko na po na kaya ko makipag-work sa mga tao from different colors with different beliefs. So, I really believe that this time, kakayanin ulit natin ‘yan, especially some of them naka-work ko na talaga and I’m really excited working with all of them,” Alamares said.

With outgoing USC Chairperson Remee Estefany Baldorado’s term reflecting several lapses in legislative and financial affairs, Alamares acknowledged their lack of transparency and said that hers will strengthen proper coordination with other council officers.

“The first plan is to establish a good connection with my co-council officers, with CSC officers, with the UBO officers… I really believe that it’s important to have a connection with them para makapag-create kami ng meaningful projects for the student body,” she said.

She added that evaluation within the council will be heightened to assess the strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement of each officer and the entire council.

According to Alamares, the evaluation will not only serve as a mere performance assessment but also as an avenue for council members to properly communicate and dissect any event that needs to be discussed.

“Seeing the flaws firsthand this year, my goal for the coming school year is to unite and strengthen the council, removing the divisions within it in order to create a positive environment for everyone. This will not only create a strong bond within the council but also [BU] as a whole,” Alamares furthered.

Transparency still in question

Now the student-elect USC chairperson, Alamares is yet to issue a formal statement regarding the resurfaced issue of the tearing of committee IDs during Mr. and Ms. Bicol University (MMBU) 2023, alleged misconduct issues with her external committee, and questionable behavior during her tenure as the 2023 USC external vice chairperson.

In a public Facebook post, Emmanuel Jake Carranza, who ran for USC business manager, aired his sentiments on the alleged tearing of MMBU IDs said to belong to the USC Ways and Means Committee.

As part of the said committee headed by outgoing USC Business Manager Kurt Angelo Mejorada, Carranza said that the apparent reason for tearing the IDs was their team’s absence during the event, which they later confirmed to be false as they helped with food and logistics tasks during the MMBU closed-door interview.

He debunked rumors that their committee purposely got rid of the identification materials and further asserted that Alamares did not acknowledge nor address the issue during that time.

Carranza also stated that they were surprised by the new chairperson’s response to the incident when questioned during the conduct of Harapan 2024.

“She did not take full responsibility and accountability of the situation at puro hugas-kamay lamang ang pinagsasabi,” he wrote.

On the issue of ripped MMBU IDs, Alamares said that she will hold a meeting with concerned individuals this week to have a proper discussion on the situation that transpired months before the elections.

“Hopefully, when I get a response from the said individuals within this week, we can have a private, healthy, and proper discussion of what truly happened in order to clarify every detail [on] both sides. Rest assured that we will disclose full information about it,” she replied.

Mishandled committee

On council matters, a BU student and USC university councilor (UC) who requested anonymity reached out to The Bicol Universitarian, claiming that Alamares had some “attitude issues” they faced as councilors under her External Affairs Committee.

In terms of leadership, the UC said that Alamares was truly committed to the position, claiming that she was a “hands-on” leader and even treated her committee as family.

However, they also claimed that the incumbent EVC was “draining” to work with as she allegedly withdrew from their Messenger group chats on multiple occasions during the big university events she handled.

“Naalala ko po nung BUtopia, nagleave po siya sa GC namin tapos magcha-chat siya before siya magleave na sabi niya, ‘Sabihan niyo na lang ako ‘pag ready na ulit kayo magcommit,’” the student said.

On this issue, Alamares said that she respects the interpretation of the concerned towards her actions.

“As their head, I saw their strengths and weaknesses, and I really wanted to maintain their strengths and improve their weaknesses to bring out the fullest potential of each and every one of them. I apologize if they misinterpreted it. There were times na napagsasabihan ko rin sila, and I really apologize if they felt offended by it. Dala na rin po siguro ng pressure at pagod,” she said.

The same scenario also transpired during MMBU 2023 where Alamares reportedly left their group chats often because she wanted her committee to immediately start working on tasks despite the proposal for the event still in the process of being publicized.

“Nung MMBU po kasi, doon namin narealize actually na draining po siya ka-work. Siguro inintindi po [rin] naman namin na parang nakakadrain po kasi talaga ang mga events. Later on, narealize namin na hindi lang po siya about events, nagrereflect din po siya sa isang tao,” the student added.

They were also “not surprised” by Alamares’ response to being stressed out as she habitually countered work pressure with this type of behavior.

Furthermore, they were expected to know and perform their responsibilities without proper training from the incumbent EVC herself as the committee head.

“May isa kaming UC na kasama na nasira talaga ang mental health niya… Gusto niya [Alamares] lahat pulido na po ang trabaho na dapat ganito, ganyan ipapasa niyo na lang sa’kin. Parang walang guidance na naganap,” the student recalled.

Alamares also supposedly gave tasks to committee members that were not included in their line of work, such as the roles of other working teams.

“It is true, may mga moments na kinailangan talaga namin saluhin ang isa't isa as a council. Actually, it’s not just them, but also me as their head. All of us had to help everyone out in order to save the events. And with those challenges that we experienced, doon ko nasabi that my UCs are really competent and I'm really proud of my External Affairs Committee,” she stated.

Barred resignations

On top of piling questions about her work ethic, an even more pressing issue was Alamares allegedly rejecting the resignation of at least six of her councilors during the first semester of the academic year.

“Kalahati po ng External Affairs [Committee], gusto mag-resign after MMBU. Like ako, nagmessage po ako sa kanya na willing ako magbigay ng resignation letter po. Mga December na po ako nag-message, tapos ayaw niya po tanggapin ‘yung resignation letter,” the student shared.

When asked if they have a legally binding agreement with the USC about their position as councilors, the student affirmed that no formal contract was signed by the committee members before working in the council.

“Wala po kaming pinirmahang kontrata ng mga UC, kaya whether maga-resign po kami or hindi, tanggap po dapat… Ayaw niya,” the student asserted.

In her defense

According to Alamares, she had good intentions as head of the External Affairs Committee and apologized for her actions that may have been misinterpreted by her team, such as occasional reprimands.

“Lahat naman po tayong leaders, seryoso pagdating sa events because it can either make or break the school year, but outside the working environment, we are all friends,” she replied when asked about her alleged “attitude” issues as the incumbent EVC.

Moreover, Alamares insisted that the challenges they faced during their term, such as taking on roles outside of their expertise, strengthened her trust in her councilors’ competence.

As for internal mishaps raised by her committee member, Alamares denied that she received documents from concerned UCs as she was still waiting for their formal resignation.

“... Some of them, nagpaalam sa akin na magreresign sila dahil busy sa academics, and I fully understand that. Mayroon namang iba na biglang nawala tapos nagreach out ulit na gusto na ulit nila magtrabaho. And I accepted them wholeheartedly kasi afterall, I treat my UCs as my family,” she said.

Alamares emphasized that although she would have preferred for these concerns to be directed to her, it reflects the need for communication and proper debriefing post- event to address unresolved cases.

Acknowledging her lapses as a council officer, she reminded students to also focus on the positives from their term.

“Let us not forget that amidst the criticisms here and there, to also focus on the positives that the council has done this year, most especially the External Affairs Committee… Rest assured that these criticisms, good or bad, are taken and understood professionally,” she concluded.

As of writing, no public statement has been released by the camp of Alamares regarding the MMBU incident and other matters aired on various social media platforms.