Draft of USC-CSC Elections 2019 Guidelines

Clarification: Previously, the UPLB Perspective indicated that Student Organizations and Activities Division (SOAD) has not responded to the request for a digital copy on April 8, 2019. SOAD clarified that the request was not immediately accommodated because the guidelines as a whole have not yet been signed by all the members of the Central Electoral Board (CEB). The standard operation procedure is that the CEB guidelines have to be signed and approved by all the members through signing the document in person prior to publishing the document. Therefore, UPLB Perspective’s copy of the guidelines is a draft of the guidelines and was immediately published due to public interest on a matter that arose on the abolishment of Section C, Number 6. UPLB Perspective would like to apologize as some readers have been misled to thinking that it is the final and approved copy of the guidelines and that the request was deliberately ignored by SOAD. Furthermore, there are additional footnotes that have not been included in UPLB Perspective’s transcription of the guidelines which has been pointed out by members of the CEB.

(April 8, 2019 – Note: These guidelines have been approved by the Central Electoral Board (CEB) last April 5, 2019. This is a digital transcription of the printed material from the Student Organizations and Activities Division (SOAD) as the office wasn’t responsive to requests from UPLB Perspective for a digital copy of the guidelines.)



    1. The Certificate of Candidacy (COC) can be downloaded online (uplbosa.org or fb.com), or it may be photocopied. An original copy is available upon request at the Student Organizations and Activities Division (SOAD), and the Office of the College Secretary (OCS) of each College. The following guidelines should be strictly complied with:
      • 1. COC should be filed at respective OCS on or before March 25, 2019, 11:30AM
      • 2. Once the COC is received by the OCS, the information cannot be changed but the COC can be withdrawn until 5:00pm of March 25, 2019.
      • 3. The following requirements should be strictly submitted to the OCS:
        1. Completely filled-out COC form
        2. A 2×2 colored picture
        3. Current Form 5/Promissory note approved by the OC
      • 4. Incomplete requirements will not be accepted by the OCS.
      • 5. COCs and requirements must be personally submitted by the candidate to the OCS. An authorization letter must be presented if COCs and the requirements of the candidate cannot be submitted personally.
    2. The list of candidates approved by the CEB shall be final.
    3. Independent candidates cannot campaign as slate.
    4. Any incumbent CEB who is running for a position must immediately resign from the CEB.
    5. Only registered students will be allowed to run. Registered students should have a registered Form 5 or a promissory note approved by the Office of the Chancellor.
    6. Deadline for the submission of COCs should be strictly implemented.
    7. The official ELECTION PERIOD starts on March 1, 2019, 8:00A and ends on May 06, 2019, 5:00PM.
    8. The official CAMPAIGN PERIOD (offline and online, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) starts on March 26, 2019, 1pm and ends on April 10, 2019, 11:59 pm.
    9. Campaign materials such as posters should have a maximum size of a cartolina (28×22 inches) and streamers must have a maximum size of 4m x 1m for an individual candidate, and 4m x 2m for party streamers. The use of tarpaulins is highly discouraged.
      • 1. These materials must be posted only in designated areas inside the University as specified by the College Deans and building administrators. No campaign materials must be posted/placed outside the University.
      • 2. Posters, ribbons and other campaign materials posted on painted walls, posts, trees, and bridges are strictly prohibited. Only flyers, leaflets, bookmarks and creative materials donated by sponsors, organizations, and benefactors may be given to the voters during the campaign period.
      • 3. Centralized poster areas shall be designated per college
      • 4. Centralized poster area for USC candidates: DL Umali Bulletin Board.
    10. Vote buying is strictly prohibited
    11. Each party is allowed to spend a maximum of P3.00 for every registered student as financial expenses for all the campaign materials used.
    12. Candidates profiles and parties platforms which can help the voters decide who to vote before the elections and the voter’s guide (UPLB students voting procedure flow chart) shall be posted at the UPLB website in order to save time during the actual voting.
    13. Black propaganda materials, both offline or online, as determined by the Central Electoral Board are prohibited.
    14. The incumbent members of the University Student Council and the UPLB Perspective are responsible in organizing the University Level Miting de Avance on April 10, 2019. The incumbent College Student Councils are responsible for their College Level Miting de Avance, which shall be held before the USC’s Miting de Avance. Foot parade is allowed on the day of the Miting de Avance. However, it should be held after office hours.
    1. All voting precincts as determined by the CEB shall be open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on April 11, 2019 and 8:00 am and 4:00 pm on April 12, 2019. Only those who have signed in by 5:00 pm on April 11, 2019 and 4:00pm on April 12, 2019 are allowed to proceed with the voting.
    2. The voting area must provide privacy to voters. The voter’s guide (UPLB students voting procedure flow chart) must be posted in the designated college level and major polling precincts (c/o USC).
    3. Every College Level Precinct shall be supervised by at least one election officer (UPLB staff) and one student volunteer (authorized by the College Student Council) while in the Major polling Precinct at last two election officers officers and two student volunteers (authorized by either College or University Student Council and not a candidate for any position in the election) shall serve as supervisors.
      • 1. The number of election officers and student volunteers may be increased depending on the number of available computers as long as the ratio of one election officer to one student volunteer is always maintained.
      • 2. A member of the technical staff should always be present in every polling precinct. Only one poll watcher per party is allowed in the poll watchers’ designated area in every polling precinct.
    4. All forms of campaigning during the election days are prohibited. No sample ballot shall be distributed during the election days. The CEB shall provide the official list of candidates in the polling precinct.
    5. Candidates may monitor the conduct of the elections as long as they do not violate any of the provisions of the election code and guidelines and should be 15 meters away from the polling place.
    6. A Form 5 or Certification of Enrollment from the College Secretary together with any valid ID will be required before the issuance of the authentication code. The voter must sign the official voter’s list with his/her name.
    7. In case of power interruption and/or computer malfunction (i.e., zero working computer unit in a precinct), the election hours will be extended in proportion to the numbers of hours missed. If not possible, the CEB shall decide when to reschedule the election date.
    8. Disqualification: A student who is serving a penalty of suspension (as distinguished from mere preventive suspension) as of the day of the elections shall not be qualified as an elector.
    1. Canvassing of votes shall immediately follow after the election is official closed. It will be done by encoding the computer-generated keys. The keys shall be held by the USC Chair, Perspective Editor-in-Chief, SOAD Head and the OSA Director, and shall be given to them at the start of the election day.
    2. Breaking a Tie. When two or more candidates have received an equal number of votes which would entitle them to a position, the winner shall be chosen between or among them: by tossing a coin for 2 winners; and by drawing lots for 3 or more winners.
    3. Notarized financial statement (per party/independent candidate) should be submitted one week after the election to SOAD-OSA. This deadline is set on April 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm.
    4. Official candidates are responsible in the clean-up of campaign materials immediately after the election period. All campaign materials must be removed by April 22, 2019. SOAD will check that all campaign materials will be removed not more than five days after the last day of election.
    5. The candidate who polls more votes than any other candidate is elected.
    6. A special election should be held immediately after the last day of late registration for the vacant positions.
    1. Formal protest with evidence on the results will be entertained by the CEB only until 5:00 pm of May 2, 2019. Official protests should be submitted to the SOAD office, copies of which are to be forwarded immediately to members of the CEB.
    2. The CEB must resolve all official complaints. Protest must therefore be properly documented upon submission. Witnesses and complainants must be available during the deliberations.
    3. The CEB’s decision on the complaints is final and irrevocable.
    4. In cases of complaints not resolved within the specified period, the CEB shall proclaim the winners as soon as cases are resolved.
    1. For USC: It shall be composed of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, ten (10) University Councilors, and one (1) College Representative for each unit with a College Secretary.
    2. For CSC: It shall be composed of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, and College Councilors relative to the actual College population to be determined by the CEB.
      • 1. Ten (10) for each college with population of 1,500 and below.
      • 2. Additional one (1) councilor for every 500 in excess of 1,500.




No. of students 930 2337 354 1818 779 668 593 613 2340
No. of councilors 10 11 10 10 10 10 10 10 11


    1. One per College Level Precinct
      • 1. CAFS OCS
      • 2. CDC Integrated Laboratory
      • 3. CEM Computer Laboratory A
      • 4. CEAT Library
      • 5. CFNR Library
      • 6. CHE OCS Reading Room
      • 7. CVM Library
      • 8. GS Façade
    2. Five Major Polling Precincts
      • 1. Old Humanities Building Lobby
      • 2. ICS, Physical Sciences Building Wing C Lobby
      • 3. Interactive Learning Center
      • 4. Math Building (Room 104)
      • 5. OSA (SU Lobby)
    3. PENALTIES (Lifted from Article XIII of the University of the Philippines Los Banos Student Council Election Code).


SECTION 1. Penalties for cases of violations decided before the day/s of election are the following:

A. The penalty for a violation committed by a candidate for any UPLB Student Council position that is decided before the day of the election shall be: (1) reprimand, or (2) disqualification as such candidate, or (3) disqualification as such candidate and as elector in the forthcoming UPLB Student Council Elections, depending on the gravity of the offense.

If his/her disqualification as candidate stems only from his/her failure to submit any of the requirements prescribed in Article VII of this Code, such disqualification shall not include disqualification as an elector.

However, if the act committed falls under the category of misrepresentation of facts, or tampering with/falsifying official records, or the like, the penalty is disqualification both as a candidate and as an elector in the forthcoming elections and the submission of the case to the Student Disciplinary Tribunal.

B. The penalty for violations committed by a qualified elector or by a student who is not a qualified elector that is decided before the day of the elections shall be: (1) reprimand or (2) total disqualification in the forthcoming UPLB Student Council Elections, depending on the gravity of the offense.

SECTION 2. Penalties for cases of violations decided after the day/s of election are the following:

A. The penalty of violations committed by a candidate who has been proclaimed a winner that is decided after the day of the election shall be: (1) reprimand, or (2) forfeiture of position and disqualification as a possible candidate in the UPLB Student Council Elections to be held the following academic year or (3) forfeiture of the position and the total disqualification from participating in the aforesaid future elections, depending on the gravity of the offense.

B. The penalty of violation/s committed by a candidate who lost that is decided after the day of the election shall be: (1) reprimand, or (2) disqualification as a possible candidate in the UPLB Student Council elections to be held the following academic year, or (3) total disqualification from participating in the aforesaid future elections, depending on the gravity of the offense.


Eulogy for Carlo ‘Caio’ Cardema of the Nat’l Youth Commission

This article was sent by a private citizen to the UPLB Perspective’s email. The author asked to publish the article under an anonymous pen name for confidentiality. Carlo ‘Caio’ Cardema is the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Commission.

By Jerome S. Perez

It is quite ironic that to hear someone espouse the view that students who support leftist movements should have their government scholarships revoked, especially when he once lost his scholarship in and was expelled from a premier government academy because he was associated with communists.

We are, of course, talking about Caio Cardema, the controversial chairman of the National Youth Commission and a flagrant Duterte sycophant.

We remember Caio from when he was Commander of the Cadet Corps of Maquiling School, Inc in UPLB. He was typically dressed in immaculate military attire, but was rather ill at ease and self-conscious, which diminished his bearing and the prestige of the office he represented.

We remember Caio from when he was Cadet Officer Candidate of the UPLB ROTC and neophyte of the UP Vanguard Fraternity. He was as terrorized as any neophyte is: haggard, scared, alert, and trying to maintain grace under pressure but visibly failing. We cannot blame him though; as a high school corps commander, there were a lot of expectations from him and he had to prove himself.

We also remember him discussing social issues and the struggles of the peasant and working classes. A little bit odd for someone committed to a right-wing institution, though not unheard-of in the patriotic, socially aware tradition of UPLB.

He did not perform well academically in UPLB, but that was not unexpected. It was actually typical of gung-ho college cadet officers who all seemed to be taking BS ROTC. So it was a pleasant surprise when we heard that he got accepted in PMA. That was also typical; several of his contemporaries who were in similar situations also chose the same route.

What was unexpected was when we heard around 2 years later that he was expelled from the Academy. Something about writing letters to communists after an activist uncle was killed. A harrowing experience that in hindsight must be his origins story.

News kept coming in; he enrolled in UP Diliman National College of Public Administration and Governance for his undergraduate degree. He also applied to the ROTC unit of UP Diliman, which was only too happy to take him. The sun of the Corps was at dusk; it was in sunset ever since CWTS was introduced as an alternative to ROTC and the basic Military Science program was cut from two years to one. The impressive parades of around 3000 cadets in Sunken Garden became less eye-catching when the cadet population dwindled to fewer than 1000. The coup de grace came two years later when the largest college in campus, the Corps’ biggest source of cadets, put up its own CWTS program and there were fewer than 100 students who enrolled in ROTC.

So the UP Diliman ROTC were very happy to take him. Someone with a PMA background, albeit checkered, may be just what they needed to keep extinction at bay.

And so it came to pass. Caio became Corps Commander of the UP Diliman ROTC in 2008, the centennial year of the University, an incidental fact that he never forgets to append to his signature block.

He also earned his degree in Public Administration and, like so many other Public Ad and Pol Sci graduates, became a political consultant, a job title that is falling into disrepute. Nowadays, it could mean anything from putting together a policy study to drafting publicity materials to formulating campaign strategies to organizing Facebook trolls.

The rest is a matter of public record. He found his way into the halls of power and over the past decade steadily rose to where he is now, Chairman of the NYC, which holds the rank of Undersecretary.

Whether these were a matter of destiny or a tortuously contrived ruse to eventually vie for an elective position and further entrench himself into the ranks of the politicians and power brokers in the country, only Caio would know. What we know is that he became leader of Duterte Youth, that he was later appointed commissioner of the NYC, and later appointed to be its chairperson after Aiza Seguerra resigned the post. We also know that Sara Duterte-Carpio, Manases Carpio, Bong Go, and Bongbong Marcos are among his wedding godparents. Moreover, we know that Duterte Youth is now a party-list organization. It does not take a degree from a premier state university or a military academy to infer his plans in the next three years.

We cannot help but remember in him the infamous Jovito Palparan. The old man is already locked up, committed to ignominy and paying for the atrocities he committed. So perhaps there is room for another dog in the extreme political right.

But perhaps comparing Caio to Palparan is actually a slight to Palparan. At least Palparan had enough balls to go to the hinterlands and hunt down the rebels he despised so much. I doubt if he would be satisfied being a keyboard warrior who throws a low blow and a sucker punch here and there.

Yet Palparan’s fate could serve as a fair warning to Caio. The general is languishing in jail; old, worn, impotent, and forgotten by the masters he served for so long. The masters are still in as powerful as ever.

When we remember Caio, we can only take a deep breath and sigh. We would still like to think of him as the well-meaning person we used to know. He had self-doubt for sure, but that was actually healthy in reasonable doses. He had ambitions and aspirations, which was good. He passionately believed in ideals, which was also good. But he had neither temperance nor prudence, and he allowed himself to become a pawn in a quest for power that is way over his head.

It seems that his mind is still stuck to his trainee/neophyte/plebe days. He is still very much attracted to grandiose institutions, still indoctrinated to lofty but simplistic ideals, and still looking for masters to serve.

His black sun has not yet reached its zenith; maybe he can still turn around. Or maybe not. Maybe he has embraced the life he leads and thinks of it as his destiny. He could be beyond redemption already, driven too far by his lust for power. Indeed, it is not that power corrupts, but that it attracts the corruptible.

Whatever it might be, we can only remember and weep. [P]

Central Electoral Board sets dates for USC-CSC elections

Words by John Albert Pagunsan

The Central Electoral Board (CEB) set April 11 and 12 as dates for this year’s University Student Council (USC) – College Student Council (CSC) elections. The initial dates April 15 and 16 were replaced after members of the board raised concerns that it will hit Holy Week which can affect this year’s voters turnout.

The board set 8:00AM, March 11 as the start of the filing of candidacy at candidates’ local Office of the College Secretary (OCS) while 11:30AM on March 18 as the deadline.

CEB will convene on March 19 to approve the list of official candidates and to receive the list of official voters, election officers, campaign managers, and party officials as well as to discuss the election guidelines. Protests on the list of official candidates will be entertained until 12 noon on March 25. Then, the protests will be deliberated by the CEB on March 26.

Other events part of the elections are as follows:

Date Event
March 20 Release of Official Candidates
March 20 (1:00pm) – April 9 (11:59pm) Official Campaign period
March 25 UPLB Perspective Interview with candidates
Demonstration of computerized voting system – UP Halalan
April 2 UPLB Perspective Electoral Debate
April 10 CSC Miting de Avance (before 7:00pm)
USC Miting de Avance (7:00pm-10:00pm)

The deadline of the election report will be on 10:00AM, April 15. Party and independent candidates are required to submit notarized financial reports as well as to remove all campaign materials on April 24.

Election protests and assessments will only be accepted until 5:00pm, April 26. The CEB will then convene on April 29 to hear election protests and assessment. Thereafter, election results will be submitted to the Office of the Chancellor on May 2. Elected candidates will have their Oath Taking on May 6 with the Chancellor.

The Central Electoral Board is the a body that administers and oversees the USC-CSC elections. The board is composed of Atty. Eleno Peralta  of OSA as Chair, Prof. Rocky Marcelino of SOAD as Co-Chair, college secretaries, USC Chairperson John Joseph Ilagan, UPLB Perspective Editor-in-Chief John Albert Pagunsan, and chairpersons of college student councils. [P]

Activists, Not Terrorists

by Juan Sebastian Evangelista
The AFP red-tagged student activists in a university that is known to be a bastion of activism. This is not new for the student activists of UP. The military is shameful for abusing their capacity as lecturers for the orientation of the ROTC program and overturning its content by releasing state propaganda. It is utterly irresponsible for a state institution to parade pictures of progressive groups and brand them as terrorists. Aside from lack of proof, this furthers the censorship that the administration attempts to forward. It is apparent that there is persistent attempt to quell freedom of expression and dissent. Not only does this contradict the espoused democracy that is enshrined in our constitution, but it also serves as a gateway for dictatorship and fascism. By indoctrinating dissent into an illegal activity, the state is made clear in its attempts to monopolize public opinion.

The military discusses terrorism and declares activists as enemies of the people when they only need to look at their backyard to see the countless human rights violations and fear-mongering made under their name. The military is known to be the main culprits in enforcing land grabbing, killings of people in minority groups, extra-judicial killings, and human rights violations. Their claim that they are fighting for national security is ironic when they are at the forefront of endangering the lives of the youth by red-baiting and red-tagging individuals and organizations who are expressing dissent. It is ironic that in a mere lecture, they needed more than 40 personnel to flaunt authority whereas fruitful discussion cannot be attained without intimidation.

How ironic it is that no less than the chancellor himself gave the opening remarks to a lecture that became an instrument for state forces to endanger the lives of the students. How shameful it is for the administration when it continually avoids confrontation with its constituents but always find time to attend to persons outside of their duties. How shameful it is for this administration that allows oppressive elements to enter the institution, when the university itself prides itself of its martyrs that fought and died for the nation. We can recall how the military robbed the university of many of its students during the Martial law era. When student activism and safety is downplayed by no less than our university’s administration, do we, in our full capacities as students of the university, rely on them?

We should see the paramount importance of the university as an entity independent of state propaganda. It should not be meddled upon by the affairs of the military that forwards the status-quo because it is in the spirit of the university to shy away from the monopoly of conformism. It is important to recognize and respect the spirit of the LFS-DND Accord and the Ramos-Abueva Accord. We should not forget that it is made in spirit of the freedom of the academe and that it should be free from the intimidation and harassment of state forces.

When the military aims the barrel of their guns towards the people, it is clear that the finger at the trigger is that of an oppressive government. It is made apparent by the shameful display of the Armed Forces of the Philippines – even in their rabid pursuit of their contentious operations, they would not stop even at the expense of the safety of the people. However, the people do not forget and the people will continue to hold the military accountable for their sins, for we cannot stomach such attacks on activism, when, historically, it has been at the forefront of the fight for the rights of the people and is persistent in championing the struggle of the masses, and in essence a manifestation of the espoused UP spirit. [P]

UPLB Admin stays silent on Red October, OSA tells students to ‘wait’ for statement

by John Albert Pagunsan

(This was originally published in Volume 44 Issue 7, September-October 2018)

UPLB Admin stays silent on Red October, OSA tells students to ‘wait’ for statement 

OSA Director Peralta tells students, “It is prudent for us to wait from the Chancellor. Personally, I have a stance but we have to wait for the Chancellor.” This is after All UP Academic Employees Union President (AUPAEU) Dumlao and students appealed for a formal statement from the Chancellor after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed that universities in Metro Manila were plotting ‘Red October’ – a plan to overthrow Duterte.

Dumlao said, “Yung mga teachers at students na vocal sa mga isyu ay napagbibintangan, na-reredtag. Ang hinihingi po namin ay formal declaration from the Chancellor against red-tagging para maging safe sila.” (Teachers and students who are vocal on issues are being red-tagged. We are demanding a formal declaration from the Chancellor against red-tagging for their safety.)

Red-tagging is the act of accusing a person as a member of a Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – New People’s Army (NPA) for their political beliefs and stances that are oftentimes critical of the government.

AUPAEU President recalled the administration’s silence on accusations of UPLB faculty members as Communist Party members from an anti-communist group back in 2009. Dumlao expounded, “Nararamdaman ko po takot nila dahil [faculty, students] mismo ang nasa harap ng mga rallies.” (We felt fear because the faculty and students are always in the frontlines of rallies.)

College of Human Ecology (CHE) Student Council (SC) Acuña said that UP Diliman and the UPLB Department of Social Sciences released stances against red-tagging and supporting student movements against state fascism. Dumlao also said, “Hindi sana mahirap for the Chancellor to declare a statement dahil yung UP President mismo meron ng statement.” (It is not difficult for the Chancellor to declare a statement because the UP President release a statement.)

Acuna emphasized, “We are challenging the offices right now to make a stance. UP is a bastion of democracy.”

Despite the silence, the administration affirmed to protecting the UPLB Community when students asked for their commitment. The representative of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) said, “There is not question to that, yan talaga dapat ginagawa ng admin.” (There is no question to that, that’s what the admin is supposed to do.”

Recruitment through Film-showing

The AFP alleged that the CPP-NPA was recruiting students and faculty for the ‘Red October’ through ‘film-showing’. The Metro Manila schools listed by the AFP are Adamson University, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Emilio Aguinaldo College, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology, Far Eastern University, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Philippine Normal University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of the East – Caloocan, University of the East – Recto, University of the Philippines Diliman, University of the Philippines Manila, University of Sto. Tomas and San Beda University. The AFP initially included “Caloocan City College” that was later found to be non-existing.

Department of National Defense Sec. Lorenzana claimed that the Red October plot was ‘no longer existent’ on October 12. Despite this, the AFP alleges that the brutal murders of nine peasant farmers in Sagay City, Negros Occidental as part of the ‘Red October’ plot.

‘No surveillance, only ‘monitoring’ of students’

Meanwhile, the University Police Force said, “Wala kaming narinig na [student surveillance]. ‘Yung monitoring para ma-inform kami, ang purpose ay to monitor (The purpose of monitoring is for us to be informed),” when University Student Council and UPLB UNBOUND raised concerns of student surveillance.

Students have noticed that the UPF and CSB were taking of pictures of students during student activities such as protests and student mobilizations.

OSA Director Atty. Peralta asked, “If you feel that mobilizations are legal, then monitoring is also legal?”

To which University Student Council (USC) Councilor Francis de Sagun responded, “Meron pong mobilization na nangyayari at may mga UPF na police personnel (There are student mobilizations and police personnel from the UPF are present) , from an outside perspective it’s something to look out for.” Sagun expounded that mobilizations are intended to raise students’ political participation but a negative meaning is then attached to mobilizations when the UPF is present.

USC Councilor Patty Mayor said that the CSB and UPF forced students who stayed in the Student Union building after curfew hours to enlist their names and if they refuse, they were verbally harassed. Students have been organizing #OccupySU – a campaign to allow students to stay beyond curfew hours in the Student Union building to accomplish academic requirements or to organize student organization activities. The UPF said, “I am not aware [of the #OccupySU campaign].”

USC Chairperson JJ Ilagan emphasized that the #OccupySU campaign has been recognized by the Chancellor yet a memorandum for all offices on the campaign has not been disseminated. [P]


Ring The Bells on World AIDS Day

Filipinos are counting the days before the holidays while. UP students are counting the days till the end of the semester. December is a month of much anticipation that keeps us still and quiet by the edge of our seats till the bells signal the good things.

But today, I hope we do not sit still and quiet on World AIDS Day rather we ring the bells on World Aids Day.

Silence is the last thing we need today, especially in our country. The World Health Organization (WHO) says HIV threatens to spread any minute outside the pool of men having sex with men, if it hasn’t already. A decade ago, only two cases of HIV infection were reported every day; three years ago, 22 new cases; but today, 32 people are diagnosed with HIV infection every single day.

We should be raising the distress signal, working overtime to catch up with the rate at which the HIV epidemic spreads locally.

Ernest Hemingway quoted John Donne’s Meditation XVII in explaining the universality of war and how it affects everyone: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

We are at war–not against our own people, but against the spread of this virus threatening our lives. To fight for HIV-positive individuals means a fight for our lives and for humanity.

But it seems as if the response to the epidemic is not a call to arms against the disease but silence across the country. First, government officials–responsible for our nation–are silent. Their silence trickles down to how young voices perceive victims of the epidemic–something short of the fearsome undead.

In a world where the number of HIV cases recorded per day declines, the Philippines goes against the current. As of October 2018, in an article by Rappler on the state of HIV in the country, Dr. Gundo Weiler, WHO representative to the Philippines, says the Philippines strikes a 140% increase in cases compared to the global average which has dropped down to 20%.

This is largely due to the age-old problem: awareness still remains at a minimum. And the government seems fond of glossing over this major health threat in favor of Chinese loans and the removal of Filipino as a required subject in college, all which only sets us further backward.

As if by containing the spread of information, the spread of infection can be suppressed as well. Our country, it seems, is run by scared little children with hands clapped over their ears, chanting “It’s not real, it’s not real.” Government officials are not children–it’s time they uncover their ears and start listening before HIV-AIDS wipes the children of this nation.

The young voices of our country who usually go against the pernicious, juvenile behavior of the government seems to have taken a similar course of action.

In UPLB, despite activities conducted about HIV testing organized by the administration, campaigns on safe sex and the truth about HIV transmission and AIDS infection are not vocalized enough. Aside from the free testing activity last month, nothing else can be gleaned within campus about the issue. This begs the question: where are the advocates of student welfare?

Ignoring HIV-AIDS issues is a nightmare but it is no bogeyman we can keep hidden in a closet and pretend doesn’t exist.

The silence of the government, the UPLB admin, and the university’s student leaders are symptomatic of the stigma about HIV-AIDS still rampant in our society. It further antagonizes, demonizes those infected by the virus–a group which, as established, is composed of men having sex with men. Mostly, members of the LGBTQ community barely fighting for their identities as humans without the dehumanizing effect of the HIV stigma.

Thus, the epidemic of silence spreads.

“Why do the holidays feel colder and quieter each passing year despite the warm weather?” a friend asked as we recount Christmas memories from childhood. It made me realize how we gradually grow farther from each other, like tectonic plates.

Is this why the silence grows more palpable each day, why it’s harder to hear the cries our own? Or are we keeping quiet in passive anticipation of the bell signaling good things?

Meditation XVII further waxes poetic: “…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Except, this is not a death toll, but a wake-up call. What we must do is grab the bell ourselves and ring the nation awake to the fact that this is a matter we should be discussing in the open. We must learn more about this Big Bad we’re up against and how best to defeat it.

HIV-AIDS doesn’t just affect its victims but everyone of us as a community, as a nation, as humans. No matter how far our tectonic plates drift apart, we remain part of the same continent, of mankind. So let’s ring the bells for mankind. [P]

Words by Gershom Mabaquiao

Frat-Related Violence and Culture – A Snapshot of a Bigger Problem

        Light was scattered and it’s blinded men with power and toxic masculinity.

Many were awakened and aroused, many were tired by the monopoly of few privileged males on light in a university that demands, aspires, and lives for the principles of fairness, equity, and social justice for all.

The recent fiasco that involves Upsilon Sigma Phi is not an isolated case of fraternity misdemeanor but a snapshot of the old boys’ club culture that terrorizes our country and the rest of humanity; and our response must evolve from the short-sighted and band-aid solutions that have been put forward by frightened and immobilized generations that came before us.

An inter-fraternity council and two anti-hazing laws passed are insufficient to correct a culture whose roots are found to have encompassed the rest of society.

You might indict a violator of the anti-hazing law or any discrimination law but that only punishes the person not rehabilitates and changes the culture. The fear of the law is futile because of the claws that fraternities have on our political infrastructures and the handcuffs that macho-patriarchal culture has on our social and moral infrastructures. The Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government, the private sector, and media are polluted with fraternity members and by toxic masculine males. They use universities as incubators to learn how to shape politics, law, business and culture by using ties, tradition, money and aggression.

How does an inter-fraternity council address an ingrain cultural and social mindset? A mindset shaped by religions that explicitly dictate that women are to be subjugated by men; if not neglect the deplorable conditions of women inside the home and the public.

A mindset molded by cultural artifacts such as guns, military toys, and gendered role-playing games that condition males to be dominant, aggressive, and power-hungry. A mindset taught by educational institutions and economic conditions that females are properties and investments available for exploitation by males.

The inter-fraternity council only resolves conflicts and lessens tension among fraternities, but recent events demand it to evolve to become more proactive and progressive in targeting cultures and mindsets.

Fraternities are not the only problem, rather they are the symptom of a bigger problem – the toxic masculine culture; a bigger problem that requires a more profound and wider call to dismantle many social and cultural infrastructures that propagate it.

As our political infrastructures are controlled and influenced by groups like fraternities, they too inevitably become perpetrators, enablers, and extensions of toxic masculinity. Political favors, academic admissions, grade requirements, business deals, and job opportunities become materials of exchange among fraternity brothers – out of brotherhood; and between fraternity brothers and individuals – out of personal ties and power asymmetry. This type of culture is an affront to our university’s ideal of meritocracy. Organizations like fraternities propagate the institutions and cultures of toxic masculinity that enlightened and progressive groups demanded to dismantle and disarm the centuries that followed ours.

How can then a victim of violence demand fairness, equity, and justice in a system whose scales of justice tip towards a few privileged men who live by the creed of ‘brotherhood’?

Absence fraternities, the same culture thrives through the kumpadre system where males exchange favors on the premise of being ‘close’. We saw this in Duterte’s appointment of military officials and we saw this in Noynoy Aquino’s appointment of male friends to the cabinet. Male politicians instigate deals and alliances during elections – how then does the lumad, female, LGBTQIA+ fight against an infrastructure directly and indirectly controlled by one gender?

Perhaps, the monopoly of power was most apparent in the inability of student leaders and student councils to act despite the widespread demand for accountability from the students. The primary mandate of student councils is to ensure that the university is a safe and conducive space for learning – a mandated rooted in the basic human rights to quality life, and to free, quality and accessible education. Student leaders who delay action and service also delay justice and safety for students – they are not rightful to be called as student leader nor UP students.

The complacent acceptance to only impose accountability to the guilty and the inability to address a culture that has perpetuated violence miss the salient points that students assert and demand. Students call out the toxic masculine culture that enables entitlement, dominion and pride to perpetuate among members of fraternities.

The call for accountability from fraternities demands only the imprisonment of few but absolves many who do not physically and verbally assault people; the call for abolishment only dissolves private spaces of toxic masculine men but allow them to find new spaces to infect – these are not wrong neither are they void of good intentions, but they should not be the end points of our wider demands for a society that is safe for Lumads, LGBT, government critics, women and ordinary individuals.

Nobody is safe in a university ran by men and for men alone. A society ran by men and for men alone is unjust.

We, the students, are demanding University Student Council Chairperson John Joseph Ilagan to use his power to end impunity and end the culture of toxic masculinity and machismo that plague society through entities like fraternities.

We, the students, are demanding all student leaders and university officials who are associated with fraternities to end fraternity-related violence and commit to building a safe and conducive unviersiity.

Do not delay – the future should be just, humane and progressive, and it will only be if we make it, demand it and own it. [P]

WORDS: John Albert Pagunsan

PHOTOS & GRAPHICS: Paula Bautista, John Albert Pagunsan