June 18, 2020 (7:55 PM)

3 min read


LONG OVERDUE. The SAMAHAN Department of Students’ Rights and Welfare intently undertakes reform for 1982 Constitution to be more responsive to students’ needs this academic year 2020. Photo taken from StRAW Twitter page

Bearing the slogan “Bagong Consti, Bagong SAMAHAN”, the SAMAHAN Department of Students’ Rights and Welfare began last June 15 its campaign towards ratifying a new Constitution for the student body. 

Following its campaign launch, StRAW released its Constitutional Reform primer last Tuesday on Twitter which promised a “constitution that is responsive to the current setting of the Ateneo.”

“The 1982 Constitution is the only ratified constitution of the SAMAHAN despite having several attempts of amending it throughout different SAMAHAN administrations, thus the provision of the old Constitution is limited and in accordance to the context of the past SAMAHAN and the past AdDU,” StRAW Director Phyllis Galan stated.

“It has been a long overdue legislative agenda since the last plebiscite in 2013 which unfortunately failed. This reform has been on the table for years now,” he added.

Galan further explained how the current SAMAHAN Constitution has restricted the officers from accomplishing their tasks.

“Sometimes, we are restricted from doing something because of the Constitution. Our SECs are not recognized, our departments are not recognized. So, when there’s lack or no recognition, there’s no clear outline of power and operations which disrupts the whole operation of SAMAHAN–from budget to documents to proper correspondence,” he stressed.

On provisions in the Constitution

According to Galan, some provisions in the Constitution are vague and contrary to the practices of the current administration. Thus, he hopes that the Constitutional Reform will resolve these problems by becoming more specific in terms of its provisions.

“These provisions and articles are considered as the minimal technical examples of how outdated the 1982 Constitution is, and many more provisions and articles are yet to be updated,” he said.

Changes and modification of some provisions and articles in the 1982 constitution will be raised and discussed by the participating bodies.

“The 2020 SAMAHAN Consti still has a long way to go. Currently, the Students’ Rights and Welfare department is still taking suggestions on what provisions and articles should be edited in the old Constitution to be presented on the upcoming Constitutional Convention,” he stated.

Benefits of a Constitutional Reform

Should the Constitutional Reform be successful, Galan elaborated that the students could expect the inclusion of a Magna Carta–a charter of rights and liberties for students, an updated set of officers which may or may not include a new set of officers different from the current structure, clearer guidelines regarding elections and procedures of impeachment, and clearer provisions to promote accountability among SAMAHAN officers.

“These are just ideas and suggestions regarding the formation of the updated Constitution which might be agreed upon or disregarded within the Constitutional Convention,” he emphasized.

According to the StRAW, the SAMAHAN Constitution forms the bedrock of students’ rights and welfare. Additionally, it “protects the autonomy of students through emphasizing its capability of self-governance.”

The said attempt to reform the SAMAHAN Constitution will undergo a series of different readings. Once approved by the concerned bodies, the final stage involves a plebiscite to be participated by the student population.

End the silence of the gagged!

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