Written by 12:01 pm Opinion • One Comment

There Will Be No Funeral for This Consejo

All politicians want to leave a legacy. Sometimes, they are seen as great statesmen who stand up against oppression. Many try to replicate this and fail, only succeeding in pasting their faces on ‘Happy Fiesta’ barangay tarpaulins. The Consejo instead believes self-destruction will be their legacy.

On March 22, the Offices of the Consejo President and Vice President released dueling narratives of blame, regret, and even more blame. It began with the OVP and the Board of College Governor’s Statement, where they published in length about how they were unable to “officially release a decision to the appointments made by the Office of the President” due to the lack of time.

Five hours after that statement was published online, the OP released their own statement rebuking the Board which imposed “a strong inference that the [OP] is negligent in its duty.” They further added that, while ‘certain lapses’ occurred, they should not be the one solely blamed.

The average student does not have time nor taste to care about the petty squabbles of its student leaders. Instead, we just watch with morbid curiosity how a dead-end government, with little time left to spare, has opted to use that time to gripe with each other publicly.

Both camps offer timelines which boil down to three events. In December, a vacancy opened up in the Ateneo Electoral Commission. By March, the Office of the President appointed someone to fill the vacancy. A week later, the Board of College Governors rejected the appointee for being an inadequate choice.

The central thrust of the OVP statement was spelled out: “Why did it take three months for the President to make a decision who to appoint?” Subtly though, hidden between the lines, they also ask: “Why did it take you so long just to find someone so unqualified?”

The OP, in their response, tries to sound both apologetic and critical, only to end up lashing out. “It’s because you guys prevent us from appointing the OIC because the Judicial Council sanctioned them!” They whinge and whine: “There are delays because the Judicial Council and the OVP and the Board told us we can’t appoint Vice-Chairs! It’s even in the Constitution!”

Like a child, petulant that they did not get their way, with delusions that the world revolved around them. The OP overreaches by attempting to override the Judicial Council’s own interpretation of the Constitution. The OP exceeds her executive authority by refusing to respect the rules set in place by the Board.

Let us imagine the world where the OP is right. Maybe that world would mean the Consejo President can steamroll over the other branches of government. Probably, OP fantasizes about a world with no basic background checks or job interviews. Let’s take her at her word.

Well, the OP’s own statement reveals a disjointed argument. They say that “it is also difficult for the appointing body [the OP] to look for suitable and deserving student-leaders to fill in crucial positions.” They then also note that they were able to find suitable appointees in ‘exactly four (4) working days.’

If the OP is able to find appointees in four days, presumably that timeframe is what they consider to be enough, right? If four days was enough time to make difficult decisions in finding qualified candidates, why did it take ten (10) days to submit the resumes and letters of recommendation to the Board?

Given that four days was enough, then that makes the delay between December 9 and February 26 more suspicious. Was the President sitting on her hands, waiting for OVP to start consultations back again and not taking initiative? Where were the application forms, the social media campaigns, or even the mere word they were looking for possible appointments?

Voices within the Board have been very critical of the President’s dithering and delay. One of the chief architects of the Board’s March 22 Statement confided to me, on the condition of anonymity: “Mind you ha, kami pa nagremind to them na kailangan may appointments na. It’s just so unfair din sa end namin.”

Many within the Board also blame the President for not conducting basic quality control before presenting her appointments. One relayed that the mood of the Board during the deliberations was bloody – “We wanted someone who was not evidently incompetent, someone who can answer interviews.”

When asked for comment, Majority Leader Via Mariz Espejo replied: “In the interest of time, only EAO approved the appointments of the Chair and Vice Chair.” She said that the appointments were not actually the issue, but “our main challenge lies in time constraints and the delayed response from [OP].”

Despite all the drama, Majority Leader Espejo tried to be diplomatic. “Without the assistance of the OP, our endeavors encounter significant hurdles.”

The legacy of the Consejo will be the passive-aggressive spats in groupchats and Facebook pages for all to see. It will be their silence in the face of injustice despite calls for accountability from victims. If this Consejo has not already been condemned to irrelevance, it can only ever be remembered as a failure.

No one gets to blame the President, of course. She was barely even there.

Written by: Jacob Dimasinag

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