After a year of absence in the Samahan Central Board (SCB) elections, the Buklurang Atenista or Buklat, the newest recognized socio-political club in the campus, is now bracing their candidates again for the upcoming Samahan Central Board (SCB) election this Jan. 28-30, 2016.
The Buklat endorses only four candidates this year’s election, one for the central board and three for cluster representatives.
The party was not able to present their bets in the 2015 SAMAHAN elections because of internal conflicts that the club encountered.
“The failure of Buklat to endorse bets last elections are, truthfully and in all honesty, due to organizational problems it has encountered. However, we view this as part of the painful process of praxis.
“We have conducted a comprehensive assessment of the organization to determine our lapses, to admit them and to conduct necessary measures to ensure the clubs continuity and prosperity,” the club said during an interview.
However, as the club’s come-back completes the set of the election battles between parties, it happens that the political party faces silent criticisms from most students who are politically involved and active.
The criticisms varied from politically “branded” and politically unaffiliated sources, which criticized most the presence of the club and its influence among students and to the campus politics as a whole. And apparently, the students, when asked about the current status of the club, usually compare the Buklat to the other political parties in the campus.
This socio-political club, which was founded in the year 2012 by the alliance of the pioneering members—Emmanuel Joseph Sumatra, Maureen Villamor and Kristoffer Tipon, is said to be “an offspring of the early AdDU student struggle for their democratic rights and interests.”
The club started first from organizing people with leadership potentials in the university-wide setting before elevating to the higher socio-political venues, which now sparked various reactions from politically interested students.
‘Championing student’s right and welfare’
The students have drawn different views regarding Buklat, because its nature is relatively different from the other parties. However, as what the members have recently pointed out, the Buklat still remains to be a socio-political organization whose ideology and principles mainly set for the “student’s right and welfare”.
Talking about ideology, however, the Buklat clarifies that “the club sees Marxism as one of the many tools for analysis which the party utilizes to interpret and analyze social conditions.”
Unlike other political organizations inside the campus, the Buklat representatives explained that the club does not have any ideological leanings. Instead of having national democracy as their [misrepresented] ideological ground, the representatives of this club continue to uphold the “student’s rights and welfare” as their concern inside the University.
The club also “seeks students to imbibe the values of being persons for others through social involvement in and outside the campus.”
“We live by this concrete ideological principle, in theory and in practice. By this we are not merely student politicians, but student leaders truly imbibing the value of Cura Personalis. And this what makes Buklat stand out,” officer-in-charge president of the Buklat Megue Zea Monteverde noted.
However, many students have noticed that the organization seems to set their focus on socio-political issues beyond the University more seriously.
The said political club, which is currently having 38 official members, actually rooted from progressive clubs like UGAT and BATO way back in the early 1980’s.
Meanwhile, the students seemed to become confused with the contrasting ideas of the principles of Buklat and other parties.
Political standing in the university
Generally, the principal objective of Buklat is “to create venues for the development and training of the leadership skills and potentials of the students in Ateneo de Davao University, not only to serve the Ateneo Community but to be with and for the specialized sector of the population, the oppressed, displaced and marginalized.”
As noticed on their Facebook page Buklat: Buklurang Atenista, Buklat is actively voicing out the rights of students and the marginalized of the society, including the issue of University’s tuition and other fee increase (TOFI), Lumad-killing cases, and the alleged militarization of Lumad areas and schools.
One student from Bahaghari, whose name is withheld, described the Buklat and its difference among the known parties in the campus.
“I personally think that they’re the club [which is] least pressured about campus politics kasi they focus on a wider scope of politics (macropolitics).
“The way I see it, Piglasapat and Bahaghari are clubs who try to put their candidates on positions to bring respective names, ideals, and branding. And here comes Buklat na naga-exercise well ng kanilang right to choose whether or not they try to put members on positions as well,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, another student from the School of Engineering and Architecture (SEA) shared a personal view regarding the present status of the Buklat. The student briefly emphasized during the interview how Buklat was “powerful” during SCB elections way back then.
“For the past years from, what I have read, sila ‘yung always nanalo sa Presidentials, therefore malakas sila. But as for now, I honestly have no idea how Buklat works. Parang iba na ‘yung focus nila,” the student said.
The views of these two students may arbitrarily raise challenges. But the club is currently growing and developing, as what Monteverde implied.
“The organization is currently undergoing rectification from its past mistakes, but rest assured that we in Buklurang Atenista remain faithful to our task of serving the people and our aspirations for national liberation and genuine democracy,” Monteverde said.
On the contrary to the efforts of the three year-old club, one politically unaffiliated student, who turned to be under of one of the Samahan committees, shared his personal assessment to the Buklat.
“Inactive na kaayo sila, like they are close to being nonexistent,” the sophomore student blurted out, who chose to withhold his name just like the other two.
This particular student explained that he said such comment because of the current performance of the said club, which is more “distant” from the other parties.
However, the organization stands to clear confusion with other’s social democracy with Buklat’s principles.
“[Buklat] holds fast to its National Democratic orientation that unless the three basic problems of Philippine society, imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, are resolved, the oppressive semi-colonial and semi-feudal characteristic of our society will never be eradicated.
“It finds excellence in actively engaging in the struggle of the oppressed masses against the semi-colonial and semi-feudal Philippine system. Buklat views the University as a microcosm of society, thus our leadership does not exist on a vacuum, struggling for and with the students vis-a-vis the oppressed and toiling masses,” the organization pointed out.
Concerns beyond the University
The situations of Buklat beyond the university-wide setting also differentiate the club from the others, the reasons why students have questions regarding the club’s political stance, as what they have noted.
Buklat has intimate connections with related organizations outside the university to furthermore exercise their goals as a socio-political student party.
The said club partnered with the 38-year old League of Filipino Students and with the Kabataan Partylist, the first and only youth party-list group in the Philippine Congress. In connection with this, the Buklat President Paul Nino Dotollo happened to be the current vice-president for Kabataan Partylist – Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the hashtag #StopLumadKillings has also become their voice lately in raising the concern of the irregularities that the Lumad people experienced. The social media has also become Buklat’s channel in marching its goals towards the society.
The Save Our Schools (SOS) Network also gets support from the Buklat. The SOS Network aims “to bring light and take actions on the ongoing violation of children’s right to education, particularly those in the context of militarization and attacks on schools.”
However, most of the students, when asked, have never really known the efforts of Buklat, as what they have been exerting since then.
Moreover, since the different principles from the Buklat and other political clubs in the University yielded contrasting sentiments from students, Buklat still guaranteed students that they have far serious goals inside as well as outside the University.
“We believe that the basic issues of Ateneans or any other students are not alienated or separated with the struggle of the farmers with landlessness towards genuine agrarian reform, of the workers with joblessness towards national industrialization.
“We stand with the Lumad in their fight for their ancestral domains and with the rest of society for their democratic rights and interests,” Monteverde emphasized.
An Education student, on the other hand, gave his views to the current performance of the Buklat.
“I think Buklat did a great move. What amazes me is that they disclose information that weren’t even disclosed by the administration as well.
“I think that what BUKLAT needs to do more is to make a forum in the grounds and fully disclose the mistakes of the administration so that the students can discern on who should be the next presider of the government,” he said, appreciating the efforts of the Buklat in their approach to the controversial current administration of Philippine government.
But talking about election, Monteverde implied that it is only a secondary factor in achieving genuine democracy.
“Our views of the Presidential elections are quite in contrast with the way we view the SAMAHAN elections. A change of leaders will never translate to a radical change in the system.
However, when we say ‘hindi eleksyon and solusyon,’ we do not mean the boycott of the bourgeois elections.
During the elections when the ruling class is weak because of constant internal contradictions between its ranks, the people should take this as an avenue to heighten the level of discourse on peoples’ issues, to establish temporary and strategic alliances, and to ‘expose to oppose’ the ruling class,” Monteverde noted.