Alone, we can do so little. For you, we can do much. But with you, we can do so much more. To our University Administrators headed by the ...

The CSG 100 Days Report for AY 2016-2017

Alone, we can do so little. For you, we can do much. But with you, we can do so much more.

To our University Administrators headed by the University President Fr Roberto Yap SJ, to our Vice President for Mission and Ministry Ms Irene Grace Guitarte, to our Director of Student Affairs Mr Ivanell Subrabas, our Central Student Government Moderator Ms Richel Petalcurin, to the Vice President and Convener of the 23rd Directorate Ms Caryl Mae Dorothy Dablio, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court Mr Mhenard Louie Ubay-ubay, to the commissioners of the Autonomous Uts, Mr Jonathan Hamilton of STRAW, Ms Jasmine Philline Endab of the Commission on Audit, Mr Ronne Ambulo of the Electoral Commission, to the College Council Presidents, to my fellow colleagues in the Executive Cabinet and Executive Units, to the Justices of the Supreme Constitutional Court, to the members of the Autonomous Units, to the different officers and heads of the various organizations, to the members of the Assembly of Extra Curricular Organizations headed by Ms Jaya Minorca Bautista, fellow leaders, fellow Ateneans, ladies and gentlemen.

We come together today to set in stone our solemn oath to the study body. Just now, we breathed a solemn promise to serve the Atenean with utmost commitment and integrity – and the student body deserves no less. For 32 years, the Central Student Government has been an institution dedicated to upholding student interest, advancing students welfare and providing quality student services. As we reconsecrate ourselves towards that purpose, it is befit that we look back and examine what this government has done and is currently doing towards achieving that end.

When this administration came into office, we wanted a Government that was Accountable to the student body, a Government that was Focused, Student-centered and Service Oriented, and a Government of Greater Purpose. Today, I shall report to you what the Central Student Government has done in the past 100 days to make the dream we forged last February turn slowly into reality.

The first goal was to build a Government that was Accountable. Accountability is realizing that there is much at stake at what we do, and as such we must take responsibility for our actions. If we are to work hand-in-hand with the student body, we first must be open and transparent. In the first 100 days of this administration, we have created mechanisms and initiatives to be more accountable and transparent to the student body. Just last week, the Central Student Government, through the Office of the Vice President headed by Vice President Dablio and OVP Chief of Staff Jean Marlo Sepe, held its CSG Public Budget Hearing at the Magis Canteen in order for students to scrutinize and be aware of the activities of their student government. We have likewise set up an exhibit of the CSG Budget at the Magis Canteen in order to reach more students. Through the Department of Budget and Finance headed by Secretary Kathleen Suarez, we have also worked hard towards improving our financial procedures. Just recently, the Department of Budget and Finance completed our 100-day financial report to serve as a reminder of our duty towards efficient fiscal administration. Through our zero-based budgeting scheme, we hope to make sure that every peso invested in the student government will go to projects that will advance the student agenda. Apart from that, we have also publicized our record of attendance and minutes of the meetings online, further holding ourselves accountable to the student body. In terms of sustainable policy thrusts, the Executive Branch has communicated its key policy objectives to the 23rd Directorate, including the Ombudsman Act which hopes to institutionalize an Office of the Ombudsman which shall serve as the Chief Prosecutor of non-functioning student leaders. Simply put, the student body deserves no less than dedicated and committed student leaders, and through the Office of the Ombudsman, we hope to create a more systematized and long term check and balance.

The second goal was to establish a government that was focused, student-centered, and service oriented. These are pillars that are essential in bringing forth a student-government that is responsive to the needs of every Atenean. In the first 100 days of this administration, we have done much to strengthen these pillars. As the first Executive Order, we refocused the student government into nine distinct departments from the previous thirteen, namely the Department of Academic Affairs, the Department of Budget and Finance, the Department of Communications Management, the Department of Events Management, the Department of Internal Administration, the Department of Research and Statistics, the Department of Social Involvement, the Department of Student Services and Campus Development, and the Department of Student Leadership and Development. We have reconsolidated the different departments in response to the need to optimize the student government’s resources and to better respond to the needs of the student body. We have also created two special units under the Office of the President, namely the Commission on Sectoral Representation and the Special Committee on Constitutional Reform. The Commission on Sectoral Representation, headed by Mr Kim Pangilinan, hopes to continue the thrust of more inclusive governance through sectoral participation, and the commission’s main end-goal by March is to finally organize our student assistants through the formation of a student assistant’s association. On the other hand, the Special Committee on Constitutional Reform, headed by Mr Jean Marlo Sepe, hopes to start the long process of reforming our constitution in an inclusive and thorough process. The Committee is currently setting up meetings with the different stakeholders in the University in order to craft a constitution which is responsive to the needs of the times. Through the Department of Student Services and Campus Development, headed by Secretary Amor Aring II, we have continued to provide various services to the student body. Through the DSSCD, we have also made ourselves readily available to assist the student body, particularly through providing assistance during enrollment and by setting up a satellite office in front of the Magis Canteen during the first week of classes. Through the Department of Communications Management, headed by Secretary Charlemagne Cuabo, we have also worked to improve our information dissemination schemes. Aside from regularly updating our social media channels, very soon we hope to revive our CSG website in order to provide another avenue for the student body to contact the student government. Through the Department of Internal Administration, headed by Secretary Jameson Lim, we have improved our processes to better respond to the concerns of the student body. DIA facilitated a thorough and inclusive planning process of CSG. Dubbed “CSG: Built By You”, this year’s planning process has included inputs from as many people as possible, from students and volunteers alike. The Executive Branch has also been closely working with the Students’ Rights and Welfare Commission, and we have provided them a seat in the cabinet in order to foster better collaboration and communication. One of the fruits of this collaboration is the “Know Your Rights” display around campus, where we hope to heighten awareness of our various rights and responsibilities as students. We have also been involving ourselves in the most fundamental part of being a student – our academics. Through the Department of Academic Affairs, headed by Secretary Edchelle Rellama, we have organized this year’s Book Bazaar 2016 with the participation of the college councils. The Department also hopes to centralize our tutorial efforts for the next major exams. Apart from that, the Department of Events Management, headed by Emmanuel Irvin Behiga, has also been working doubly hard to improve the quality of our traditional events. Next week, they will be training themselves through SYNERGY, where they will be equipped with the necessary skills for events management. DEM has also worked with the Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts to organize this year’s Kalayaan 2016 at the Covered Courts – further honing their capabilities. Also, through the efforts of the GA and OrgTrip Steering Committee, we have made the entire organizing and decision making process as inclusive as possible, holding as many consultations as possible in order for next week’s General Assembly to not only be memorable, but meaningful as well.

The third and last goal was to create a government of greater purpose. We envision a student government that goes beyond its traditional norms and transcends towards a greater sense of purpose. In the first 100 days of this administration, we have done initiatives which took the extra mile in what it means to serve and represent. Through the Department of Research and Statistics, headed by Secretary Paul Dalagan, we have created different avenues to collect student insights beyond regular means. Earlier in July, we organized a Forum on the Blue Form Policy, where we invited Fr Rene Tacastacas SJ to explain the proposed stricter implementation of the blue form policy. The forum gathered different students and student representatives and provided an avenue to contribute to the discussion on this important issue. Next week, DRS will organize a forum on the Financial Status of the University, and we have invited Engr Lenie Ong to talk about this pressing issue. The CSG has also committed itself to training future leaders in governance. Through the Department of Student Leadership and Development, headed by Secretary Joseph Roldan Tagalog, we have revamped the Ateneo Good Governance Development Academy into the Ateneo Good Governance and Leadership Academy. Partnering with the Political Science Department, we hope to further improve the quality of our modules in order to create future-ready leaders in governance. Apart from our initiatives inside campus, we have also been working to involve more students in the community, particularly in Political Engagement. Through the Department of Social Involvement, we have been gearing towards engaging ourselves in meaningful initiatives for the community. Very soon, the Department will also be organizing a forum on the Sangunnian Kabataan Reform as part of task force XU 4 SK. Apart from this, DSI has been closely coordinating with the Social Development Cluster to organize the #BangonAdZU movement in light of the recent fire in Ateneo de Zamboanga. This year, we have also enhanced our external relations, particularly with Buklod Atenista and ONE-CDO. Last May, the Central Student Government hosted the 33rd Buklod Atenista National Leaders’ Summit, where student leaders from all over the Ateneo system converged here in Xavier University to discuss various issues and explore future avenues for collaboration. XU-CSG has also taken the lead in convening ONE-CDO, the alliance of student governments in Cagayan de Oro City. Through our linkages, we hope to solidify our standing in the outside community.

In the end, the only way we can bring forth the change we wish to see is if everyone in the community, student or student leader, comes together and works towards achieving our goals. Last enrollment, we launched an online campaign dubbed #SLMISHugot2016, where we channeled the student sentiment towards documenting the situation. Through these efforts, we were able to present to the administration the true situation of enrollment, and they have committed to working towards ironing out these problems for next enrollment.

Now, we are faced with yet another issue which concerns every Atenean. The administration has opted to strictly implement the blue form policy without the proper information dissemination and consultation with stakeholders. As a result, many of our fellow Ateneans were not able to take their exams. Last Wednesday, we, as one student government, made a statement calling for the deferment of the strict implementation of the Blue Form policy to next academic year. Just as we did last June, I am calling on everyone to unite and make our voices heard through our signature campaign. Let us come together and call on the administration to defer the stricter implementation of the Blue Form policy to next academic year, to allow our fellow Ateneans to take their Preliminary Exams without the added costs of delayed exam penalties, and to engage in dialogue and consultation with the student body and our parents. Together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

With the first 100 days down and 265 days to go, the challenges ahead remain numerous. But even so, the student government shall ever go forward because of a belief that everything can be better, and with a little hard work and perseverance, it will get better. Today must serve as reminder of the great burden we chose to carry on our backs. Today, we consecrate ourselves to the almighty to be beacons of representation, to go where the need is great. As long as there are students who need to be represented, as long as there are rights which need to be upheld, as long as there are students in need of our help, we must always be there, standing up for what is right and just. The challenge now is to involve more people into the governmental processes, to bring forth more inclusive governance, to bridge the disconnect. With people like you, there is no challenge too great.
Together, we can make a difference. Together, let’s make a difference. Change is coming, but it must begin with us.

Thank you, and may God continue to bless our journey. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

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