Last Sunday, 25 January 2009, members of the Law Student Government Executive Board, General Assembly and Electoral and Judicial Tribunal met for the last time to finalize amendments to the current Law Student Government (approved in 2005). The amendments have been in the offing for the past two years, propelled by the need to have a more efficient representation, to address loopholes in the law, and to meet contingencies, such as the impending de-blocking next year.
We are proposing major changes for your consideration:
2005 Law Student Government Constitution
2009 Law Students' Constitution
LSG is composed of three bodies:
EXECUTIVE BOARD – duly elected representatives (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer and College Rep to the University Student Council)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY – composed of the heads of the 19 blocks in the college; decides matters of policy
ELECTORAL & JUDICIAL TRIBUNAL – oversees the conduct of elections and impeachment proceedings
LSG will be composed of only two bodies:
CENTRAL BOARD – duly elected representatives (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer, College Rep to the University Student Council, 2 reps from each of the year levels and 2 reps from the evening blocks) who will now exercise both executive and legislative functions
ELECTORAL & JUDICIAL TRIBUNAL – composed of fifteen (15) commissioners (transitionally 7), chosen mainly on the basis of character and competence to serve as overseers of elections and impeachment proceedings and decide other actual controversies with regard to the Constitution
ORGANIZATIONAL AFFAIRS BOARD – Constitutional body composed of representatives of different organizations in the college
ACADEMIC REFORMS COMMITTEE – standing committee under the Executive Board tasked to propose changes in the curriculum
NATIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE – standing committee under the Executive Board whose main objective is to develop social awareness and public responsibility among students of the college
BAR OPERATIONS COMMISSION – now a Constitutional commission which will no longer be headed by the Vice President but will be led by a Commissioner appointed by the President at the end of the first semester.
ACADEMIC REFORMS COMMISSION – now a Constitutional commission which will serve as the students' voice in the formulation and implementation of academic and administrative policies and regulations
The ORGANIZATIONAL AFFAIRS BOARD, now the ORGANIZATIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, will be under the PRO.
The NATIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, now the PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, will be under the Vice President.
Why the changes?
1. From GA to Year Level Representatives: Merging of the functions of GA and EB in the Central Board
a. In view of the impending de-blocking next year, it will be very difficult to constitute the General Assembly. Hence, in place of block representatives, we will be electing two representatives from first year to fourth year with the evening sections entitled to their own two representatives.
b. The proposed structure will be more efficient and effective since it will mean more people helping out in the activities of the Central Board. At the same time, coordination will be faster since the year level representatives are part of the Central Board. This will balance the need to consult students without sacrificing the timeliness and speed by which consultations must be done.
c. Since the year level representatives are elected, they will be accountable to the electorate and will be subject to impeachment should they fail to perform their functions, unlike in the present GA where no sanctions could be imposed on block presidents who do not attend meetings.
2. Composition of the EJT
The EJT, being an independent, non-representative body, will no longer be composed of representatives from the different blocks. The fifteen (15) commissioners will be selected from EJT's roster of volunteers on the basis of character and competence, and will continue to serve as such as long as they remain qualified. To ensure its independence, in no case shall a majority of the members at any given time belong to the same student organization, fraternity or sorority.
3. The Law Representative
a. The Law Representative may be a creature of the USC Constitution but we are giving him ex-officio membership in our Central Board so that he will be bound by the decisions of the board when he votes in the USC.
b. However, we are subjecting him to the impositions of our Constitution and we maintain that violations of the terms of our Constitution will merit disciplinary measures therein provided.
c. We further maintain that removal of the Law Rep for grounds under our Constitution effectively deprives him of the right to hold office as Law Rep regardless of what the USC Constitution says. His mandate comes from this College and as such, this college can relinquish such bestowed mandate.
4. The Independence of the Bar Operations Commission
Under the current Constitution, the elected Vice President becomes Bar Operations Head. Since elections are not held until February, this means that preparations for the Bar will only start late February or early March. There is a need to hasten the process from October to February. Hence, under the proposed Constitution, the LSG President will now be given the power to appoint a Bar Operations Commissioner at the end of the first semester on the basis of a shortlist prepared by the Bar Operations Commissioner with the concurrence of the graduating class. This will:
a. Ensure that preparations for the Bar Exams will start early
b. Bar Operations Commissioner will be elected but will come from the volunteers, who are presumed to be familiar with the system and who will earn the post on the basis of competence and merit.
c. The required concurrence of the graduating class will give them more power as to their choice of Bar Operations Commissioner.
The foregoing is just a summary of the proposed changes to the Constitution. Please take time to read the present and the proposed Constitution attached below.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of ratifying the new Law Students' Constitution. As the very title of the text suggests, this is OUR Constitution, the very document that will govern our student representation in this college. Faced with an almost certain de-blocking next year, we must make sure that our Constitution is flexible enough to meet the exigencies of the times, whether or not this development will indeed push through. (Now whether or not we are in favor of the de-blocking is a different matter altogether. For that, we will have to consolidate our stand in the coming days, even as the Dean claims it is the college administration's prerogative.)
This is also our chance to introduce improvements in the Law Student Government to make it a more relevant, effective, efficient and representative institution, responsive to the needs of its constituents.
With that said, please VOTE in the upcoming plebiscite, MONDAY to WEDNESDAY next week, FEBRUARY 2-4, 2009, at the STUDENT LOUNGE.
Voting schedule is as follows:
February 2, 2009, MONDAY: 10am to 6pm
February 3, 2009, TUESDAY: 10am to 6pm
February 4, 2009, WEDNESDAY: 10am to 9pm
Should you have problems with the schedule, please inform us so we can ask the EJT to adjust the time.
Thank you. We look forward to your full participation. Feel free to forward and repost this message.
In the service of the students,
Law Student Government Executive Board 08-09
Michael Jobert I. Navallo
President, Law Student Government
University of the Philippines College of Law
Mobile: +639279704899 / +639233330885