TAPATAN 2024: Cabacang, Castillon engage in presidential debate

By: Aishah Jimenez, Andrea Eleanor Cabaron
April 25, 2024

Presidential candidates Kodi Cabacang (Left) and Joffymycel Castillon (Right) during the TAPATAN 2024 student debate forum. Photo courtesy of Eduardo Nollora Jr. of The LANCE.

Presidential candidates Kodi Cabacang and Joffemycel Castillon faced off in the "TAPATAN: Student Debate" held at St. Thomas Hall, Wednesday, April 24.

The event was also simultaneously live-streamed on the Letran Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) official Facebook page. The debate aimed for Letranites to become more familiar with the presidential bets’ platforms, along with their stances on the pressing academic and social issues.


Candidates on the Utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Education

For the affirmative side, Kodi Nicole Cabacang expressed that AI improved the way individuals discern education with accessibility and convenience being experienced and achieved, as compared to before, allowing them to be more informed. 

On the negative side, Joffemycel Castillon argued that with AI being omnipresent, it induces learners to commit cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty.  She added that the said devices further widen the technological gap within the country. 

Cabacang contended that when society at large prioritized dangers over the benefits of innovations, students would not be able to keep up with them.

Castillon refuted on the moral ramifications of using AI in the classroom. However, Cabacang retorted that although these matters might be regulated, it is their responsibility to determine how best to employ all of the resources at their disposal. 

Castillon stressed once more that students should not be pressured to adopt these changes only because they are convenient, further stating it is necessary to make use of it with appropriate measures.


Candidates on Current Issues and Leadership

Debate adjudicator, Asst. Prof. Clarita Rivera asked candidates to present platforms they could immediately implement in the next school year, specifically ones that would truly cater to the students' needs.

Kodi Cabacang introduced the #LSCLISTENS platform, aiming for a productive, proactive, and progressive LSC. 

This platform is dedicated to ensuring that student concerns and suggestions are not just heard but also actively addressed with effective solutions. 

Joffemycel Castillon proposed the "SIYASAT LETRANISTA" initiative, focusing on the importance of research and development as a tool to advance society in comprehensive ways. By upholding academic excellence, this project aims to showcase and recognize the contributions of Letranistas through their research endeavors. 


Independence or Collaboration? LSC and The LANCE’s association with DSA

Letran’s Alumni and fellow adjudicator, Abigail Jane Pedrigal, asked both candidates about their opinion regarding the independence of the student council or "The LANCE", which is Letran’s official campus publication from the DSA.

Castillon believes that there is an overlap in responsibilities and the need for DSA’s involvement. 

"I personally believe that they should not be separated from DSA. The responsibilities of The LANCE and LSC overlap, and since students handle the work, DSA involvement is definitely necessary," Castillon said.

Meanwhile, Cabacang supports independence with certain restrictions. 

"Yes, but with some restrictions. The student’s voices should be heard when it comes to certain issues, and we should have the freedom to make decisions for the betterment of the student experience without needing approval," Cabacang stated. 


Academic Calendar and Rising Heat Index 

In the midst of discussions surrounding the academic calendar and concerns regarding the heat index, candidates Kodi Cabacang and Joffemycel Castillon shared their views during the recent debate. 

Cabacang expressed support for adopting a June to April calendar to alleviate challenges associated with the heat index during commuting.

"In favor of the June to April Calendar. Para maiwasan ang challenges with the heat index from the commutes,” she stated.

Conversely, Castillon suggested the reintroduction of a different academic calendar to prevent students from attending classes during peak heat index seasons. 

"Pwede na’ting ibalik para di na kailangan pumasok ng mga students pagdating ng season kung saan at peak ang heat index. Ang solusyon na ito ay temporary lamang, kinakailangan na'tin ng sure na resolusyon. Speak out about climate change," she emphasized. 


Aid for Letran Scholars

Adjudicator Pedrigal, given her credentials as a scholar graduate of Letran, asked the candidates of their plans in aiding the scholars of the Colegio. 

"Naniniwala ako na isa sa mga pinakamalaking way para maexercise ng council yung power nila. Makikipag-collaborate, with these sectors para malaman kung ano yung pangangailangan nila and to amplify yung concerns nila to the [school] admins,” Castillion said.

On the other hand, Cabacang emphasized the importance of representation and advocacy, with her platform #LSCLISTENS. 

She stressed the role of student representatives in voicing scholars' concerns and proposing effective solutions. 

"Representation is very important, and one of my platforms is LSC Listens. Student leaders must speak up with their concerns, advocate for them, and propose solutions for the scholars," Cabacang stated. 


Tapatan 2024: Its Influence to the Upcoming Special Elections

3rd year AB-Journalism student Christine Llavore commented that this year’s Tapatan was a good method to showcase the point of views of candidates on certain issues. However, since the same was conducted online, technical difficulties were evident in the audiences.

1st year AB-Political Science student, Judeah Lourdes Salut, shared that the activity must be continued in the upcoming years, since it aids students with relevant and timely information pertaining to the candidates. This allows the latter to identify which aspirant to vote for. She also recommended that this event should be conducted face-to-face in the future.

Letran-COMELEC Secretary General Marthy Sofia Mojar, affirmed that one of the challenges the Commission faced was the sudden switch to an online modality, which forced the Commission to rely on on-campus equipment and oblige them to improvise for other instruments, resulting in a number of technical problems.

Mojar also conveyed that the low level of engagement in this event may influence the outcome of the upcoming special elections. But, since the livestream was available in the COMELEC’s Facebook page, students who were not able to watch the same may opt to view the replay via: https://fb.watch/rFUDWDe-r5/

Following the events of the special elections, Letran-COMELEC officially opened the online polls in pursuit of the next LSC president starting Thursday, April 25 from 8 AM to 5 PM. 

Voting will commence until Friday, April 26 same time at 8 AM to 5 PM. The election winner will be proclaimed right after the closing of polls. 

As of writing, Kodi Nicole Cabacang leads the partial poll results with 470 votes, while Joffymycel Castillon follows with 299 votes. 301 students settled to abstain.