No BU Leaders Candidate In 2023 USC Election


For the first time in 19 years, Bicol University Leaders: League of Democrats has decided to step away from the 2023 University Student Council (USC) Elections, leaving a two-party political choice of BUKLOD and League of Liberal Reformist-Reporma Coalition (LLR Reporma).

Established in 2004, BU Leaders' absence creates a better winning opportunity for both BUKLOD and LLR Reporma vying for the USC positions, but the underlying reasons and its potential implication for BU student political culture can be more damaging.

Through the Expert’s Eyes
Dr. Cesar A. Arao, the Political Science Department Chairperson of Bicol University College of Social Science and Philosophy claims that the absence of the long-time running BU Leaders in this year’s USC election is because of a lack of resources and the recent phenomenon of disinterest in student politics as an effect of distanced learning.

“Because of COVID-19, that is another reason why the students are not anymore organized because I think one problem is the funding. Because of COVID-19, nagsimula talaga noon—talagang problema na ng mga estudyante ang financial. So, yun ang mga nakikita ko. Tingnan mo ngayon yung nagtatakbo ngayong dalawang organization. Yung iba complete, yung iba hindi. So that is the reason kung why hindi nakompleto because the students are not anymore interested in running.” Arao said.

In addition, Arao said that the number of political parties is just a factor in the political system. On a positive note, he believes that fewer choices can also mean better analysis of the platform.

“It is not a matter on how many political parties will run. It is not new even though it is not local in a local election isn't it? So, as far as in the Bicol University, wala namang problema. Mas maganda nga na ganon kasi mas may pagpipilian—mas maaanalyze ng mga estudyante yung mga plataporma. Kasi kung maraming mga political party ang magrurun, the students will not think anymore.” He said.

Moreover, when asked about his forecast, Dr. Arao said that LLR Reporma Coalition has the upper hand to dominate the upcoming USC Election.
“I think they will still dominate kasi talagang intact pa sila eh. Kahit kulang pa yung nag run, intact talaga yung [party] nila. They are very supportive with each other. So first, diba ang nag uupo ngayon sa USC is LLR? So, now they still have the machinery. So, they are doing their obligation to go around the university even without election. So that is the reason. Yun ang nakikita ko.” He said.

Opposing Parties’ Sentiments
In recent years, pursuing USC roles has been a three-way battle. With the exit of BU Leaders in the USC election this year, Remee Estefany Baldorado, chairperson of BUKLOD, and Jefrey Latigay, chairperson of LLR Reporma, have expressed their feelings concerning the absence of the yellow party.

“I’m actually quite, like confused or parang overwhelmed ako, since parang kulang yung choices ng students, even though parang, ano - konti nalang talaga yung mapipili ng students. Parang magkakaroon ng, like mahihirapan silang mag-vote if sino talaga, especially, if yung may magkatumbas-tumbas nang ganiyan ng standing, parang we need to give the students more choices.” Baldorado said.

When questioned if the lack of candidates from BU Leaders in the forthcoming USC elections is a chance for BUKLOD or a political concern, Baldorado contended it is more of a concern. She noted that diminishing manpower and financial resources have contributed to the dwindling presence of student leaders of varying ideologies in BU-USC Elections.

In connection, when asked about the reason for the incomplete BUKLOD slate, Baldorado said that she reached out to her party yet last-minute backouts occurred. A member was from BU-Tabaco Campus and communication issues occurred thus resulting in the late filing of candidacies.

Nonetheless, Jeffrey Latigay weighed in on the absence of BU Leaders and BUKLOD incomplete slate members running in the upcoming USC elections, expressing his belief that it could either be viewed as an opportunity for LLR Reporma or a potential political issue.

“…And with regards to the BU Leaders, siguro nagkakaroon din po ng loss of the burning fire or enthusiasm, wherein the students are not now driven through leadership. Siguro dun nalang siguro muna sila nagfofocus sa academics or yung affiliations na sa tingin nila ay helpful nalang sa kanila individually.” Latigay said.

In this year's BU-USC elections, student voters face a different challenge: choosing the right leaders in a two-party political landscape that may not represent the full range of political views and ideas of the BU students. This can lead to a restricted selection of candidates and policies, leaving students with fewer options to find a representative that matches their beliefs. However, we have a few choices of leaders to choose from at hand. This is an opportunity for us students to not only scan them but meticulously scrutinize them fiber-by-fiber.

* The Bicol Universitarian has tried to reach out to the BU Leaders party but told us that they would release an official statement in connection with the concern. In the meantime, the publication has sought the side of other political parties and a political science professor to explore the issue.

Written by

Jimwell Tanay is a Bachelor of Arts in Communication student at the BU College of Arts and Letters. He joined the Universitarian in 2020 as a Public Relations Staff and was assigned to cover gender and development.

Photo from BU Leaders FB Page