October 5, 2022 (5:46 PM)

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REVISION AND EVALUATION. During the first blended SAMAHAN legal townhall on October 3, COA and COMELEC disclosed their future plans: COA intends to revise the fiscal policy of the 2020 SAMAHAN constitution, and COMELEC will evaluate the SAMAHAN Central Board Guidelines for electoral consistency. Photo by Ryan Nathaniel Balleza

Overseeing the operations of the SAMAHAN and its constituents, the Commission on Audit (COA) and Commission on Elections (COMELEC) empowered their roles in the school community through the 1st SAMAHAN Legal Townhall.

COA Head Commissioner Ruthce Mae Costelo and COMELEC Chairman Andrea Rose Reyno, with Legal Commissioner II Harvey Respicio spearheaded the discourse on the current procedures and technicalities of their respective organizations and opened up plans to carry out in the future.

On the first day of the two-day virtual session, Costelo presented the COA’s scope of the audit procedures, such as checking liquidation reports from clusters and departments and validating recorded transactions of events.

Costelo also specified the sanctions imposed by the organization when liquidation reports are deemed unacceptable, submitted late, and not handed over. Penalties will be accumulated for late submission of liquidation reports, and barring of the Student Information System (SIS) or Transcript of Records (TOR) would be enforced on the treasures who failed to submit the reports.

With its task of maintaining the legitimacy of all electoral activities of the student body, the COMELEC discussed the technicalities of election guidelines and the organization’s jurisdiction on unprecedented issues.

Revisions on policies and procedures

SAMAHAN President Samantha Claire Cayona raised during the session the plan regarding the COA’s initiative to update the fiscal policy of SAMAHAN.

Costelo responded that the 2020 constitution calls for a change in the fiscal policy as it was still based on the previous constitution.

“I have found that there are several changes that needs to be done in the fiscal policy. For example, for the fiscal policy, [it] was still based on the previous constitution where COA was still department of the internal audit which is under the SAMAHAN treasurer. So, there are things that changed when the new constitution was pushed through.”

“Because of the new constitution, the internal structure of the organization was also changed. Dalawang levels of audit na lang. It must be changed din sa fiscal policy,” Costelo added.

A clause for penalties would also be added to the proposed new fiscal policy to address the vagueness of implementing penalties.

“We would like to add a clause for a penalty since there were stated that only, there is a 15-day raise period for the checking of the LR. So, if may revisions, ang auditors, may 15 days lang ang pagrevise ng mga treasurers. However, there were no penalties that stated kung ano talaga iyong, anong mangyari sakanila if they go beyond that,” Costelo said.

Filling in gaps and maintaining fairness

Addressing previous lapses from past elections, the COMELEC announced in the Townhall that they are currently updating the SAMAHAN Central Board Guidelines for campaigns.

“As of the moment, the commission is reviewing and evaluating the guidelines to ensure its consistency for this year’s elections,” Reyno said.

Respecio shared in the session that the progress in the guidelines revision is now on its second reading.

The COMELEC Chairman also added that regarding dismissal concerns and cases, the organization has no records of cases and complaints that have been dismissed so far.

The COMELEC Chairman also emphasized that the organization conducts deliberations for special cases or unprecedented issue that arises by weighing all opinions and reaching a consensus upon making the decision.

“In that deliberation, we ensure that everyone has the right to express or to share their ideas on that certain issue. With that, we, the Commissioners decide on a certain problem, for example, a problem that may occur, of course, through the consensus of the commission,” Reyno said during the Townhall session.

The SAMAHAN Legal Townhall is a two-day event that aims to present the roles and services of COA, COMELEC, Commission on Students’ Rights and Welfare, and the Student Judicial Court to the school community. The townhall was held via Zoom on October 3 and 5.



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