Presidential online campaign underway as students’ expectations rise for special elections

By: Jetaime Kaina Cerbito, Aianna Xyril Monsod
April 24, 2024

Photo artwork courtesy of The LANCE, sourced via the Letran Commission on Elections Official Facebook page.

The Letran Student Council (LSC) presidential candidates for the 2024 special elections, namely Kodi Nicole Cabacang and Joffemycel Castillon, commenced their online campaign on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

Publication materials consisting of the candidate’s credentials and proposed platforms were posted and shared online in the Letran Commission on Elections’ (COMELEC) official facebook page.

Presidential Hopefuls Share Visions for Student Government

In an exclusive interview with The LANCE, Cabacang and Castillon shared their responses concerning this year’s special elections as the newly nominated slate of candidates for president.

The incumbent LSC Psychology Senator and Senate President, presidential candidate, Kodi Nicole Cabacang, expressed her visions for better student representation in the council, highlighting her platforms #LSCListens, Letranites Beyond Borders, and Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) and Cultural and Performing Arts Groups (CPAG) Empowerment Program.

In her presidential campaign platform, Cabacang hopes to establish #LSCListens, an avenue for Letranites to directly communicate their concerns and grievances to the student council, emphasizing its difference from the TINDIG Forum. 

“‘Yong TINDIG Forum kasi ‘no, kumbaga it’s a gathering where student leaders, student representatives can voice out their concerns, and kami namang mga officers, we give them updates about certain things na kung paano namin ina-address ‘yong isang concerns about memorandums and all of those things. What I aim to do with #LSCListens is kumbaga, kung mayroon mang mga concerns ang mga estudyante, kahit papaano through that platform, #LSCListens, p’wede nilang ilagay doon, hindi na nila kailangan maghintay ng forum for them to direct their concerns to us, they can just use that hashtag or even just message us.”

Cabacang also believes that through her platform, Letranites Beyond Borders, Letranites have the privilege to gain knowledge and experiences and the opportunity for community-building with other organizations outside the walls of the Colegio.

For the empowerment program of RSOs and CPAG, Cabacang hopes that this long-term goal will improve their involvement with the student council and offer them opportunities and support that RSOs and CPAG need. 

Cabacang also mentioned her plans to optimize student spaces in the Colegio and raise the budget of RSOs and CPAG.

“I cannot promise immediate progress, but what I can promise is immediate action through that concern of the students,” Cabacang stated. 

Current Letran Psychology Society President (LPS) and presidential contender, Joffemycel Castillon, equally underlined her platforms and aspirations for the council, particularly sustaining the “Kaalam and Kaakbay” program.

“I will intend po to advance komprehensibong serbisyo para sa students na aligned po sa values na ina-upheld ng Colegio, such as promoting po the integrity of life, social awareness, community participation, and academic excellence,” Castillon said.

Castillon also shared her leadership background and qualities as the existing president of the Letran Psychology Society.

“Natutunan ko pong maging flexible and being exposed po sa iba't-ibang trabaho, nagkaroon ako ng idea kung paano sila ginagawa. Kaya nung naging President ako this year, kahit papaano po, may idea na ako sa kung paano dapat hinahandle ang specific tasks sa iba't ibang committees,” the presidential candidate stated.

In her statement, Castillon further assured equal perspective as a former organization and Letran community member and now leader, which equipped her with qualities the council needs for its president.

Castillon also voiced the need for better representation of RSOs and CPAG as an advocate for a more comprehensive service for the entire student body. 

Letranites Speaks Out

Students of the Colegio share their perspectives on the special election process and their expectations for future leadership.

Andre Garcia of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) expressed his shock at the lack of clarity in communication regarding changes in the election process. 

“Nagulat ako sa pagbabago sa special elections or ‘di ko lang ba talaga naiintindihan yung explanation pero sana na-reiterate ng ayos sa student body kung ano ‘yung process ng special elections… Kasi last year, ang special elections ay nag call for COC ulit pero ngayon nagbago sila dahil nag nominate na lang yung mga RSO and CPAG,” Garcia said. 

He also emphasizes the need for a president who prioritizes student welfare and can separate the student council from administrative influence. 

A student from the College of Education (CoEd) shared the same viewpoint with Garcia, highlighting the importance of the future president prioritizing student needs and ensuring their voices are heard in decision-making processes. 

“Pinaka important po siguro ‘yung inuuna yung people, ‘yung letranites. ‘Yung needs ng letranites hindi naman laging nasasagot kasi alam ko naman maraming processes ‘yon, but still important na ipaalam ng future leaders na naririnig po ang mga letranista. And they are doing their best to make a solution sa mga problem,” a BSEd English student stated.  

Rainier Merencillo from the College of Engineering and Information Technology (CEIT) urged fellow students to scrutinize candidates based on merit rather than familiarity. 

“Kilalanin natin ‘yung mga candidates and ‘wag tayong bumoto based on sino ‘yung kilala. Let’s base on their reputation and resume, kung ano mga nagawa nila para sa school and ‘yung abilities talaga nila. And sana naman ‘yung mga candidates, mag-effort din silang mag reach out sa mga students para makilala talaga namin sila,” Merencillo said. 

Another student from the CBAA recognized the opportunity provided by the special election, noting that it enables thorough evaluation of candidates and the presentation of several platforms beneficial to students.

“I think it gives us more time to think kung sino ba ang nararapat at nabigyan din ng opportunities ang iba na gusto maipakita ang iba’t iba nilang platform na makakatulong sa students,” a 1st year Human Resource Management student said. 

The second student election race continues as the “Tapatan” student debate is set on April 24, which will take place online via Zoom and livestreamed on the COMELEC's official Facebook page, 2 PM onwards.