An elected officer of the Saint Louis University Supreme Student Council (SLU SSC) has exposed what he described as anomalous transactions by the university president. He was later expelled from his position after he demanded that funds used in the construction of the SLU covered walkway be returned to the student fund.
BY LYN V. RAMO
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 2, February 10-16, 2008
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. North of Manila) An elected officer of the Saint Louis University Supreme Student Council (SLU SSC) has exposed what he described as anomalous transactions by the university president. He was later expelled from his position after he demanded that funds used in the construction of the SLU covered walkway be returned to the student fund.
Joined by other officers of the Executive committee and the Congress of Louisians, the student leader also demanded transparency from the SLU administration.
In an interview, Elton Jun Veloria, secretary for public relations of the SLU SSC said he was expelled by SSC President Michael Carl Flores after he and two other officers questioned the proposal to allocate some P400,000 ($9,828.01 at the Feb. 8 exchange rate of $1:P40.70) from the student fund for the school’s shaded walk path.
Veloria said the construction of the project should be shouldered by the SLU administration and not financed with money from the student central fund.
“Tuition and other fee increases are justified by the administration with the claim that 20 percent of the increases would be spent on infrastructure projects,” Veloria said, citing Commission on Higher Education (CHED) guidelines on tuition hikes.
As this developed, the Student Affairs Office directed the SSC complaint to the student court because it was heavily premised on violations of the SSC Constitution and By-laws. The student court has yet to be installed, according to the student leaders.
Illegal and anomalous
Veloria also questioned Flore and the SLU administration for pushing through with the walkway construction in December despite prior disapproval by the Congress of Louisians and the absence of an approved budget, citing provisions of the SSC Constitution and By-laws and other rules on fund releases.
The student body scrapped the item for the walk path installation from the General Appropriations Act on Dec. 11.
On Dec. 22, three officers of the Execom retracted their earlier vote for the approval of the allocation of funds for the walk path project on three grounds: the absence of a canvass form attached in the resolution; the failure to indicate an amount to be spent, and the absence of a Congress concurrence.
In the same letter Veloria, Paul Christian Cortez (secretary for finance) and Valerie Marcius Aquino (secretary for audit), said it is not the SSC’s responsibility to construct the project, citing the CHED requirement that 20 percent of profits from tuition and miscellaneous fees increases should be allocated for improvement of facilities.
Two subsequent retraction letters were sent on Jan. 4 and 7.
A written account Veloria signed with Rolirey H. Flores, speaker of the Congress of Louisians, and Cortez stated that the project was implemented in December, during Christmas break.
The officers also questioned the release of money from SSC funds, despite irregularities which Veloria said are known to the administration.
“The haste by which the project was implemented and the timing cast a darker show of doubt on the Shaded Walk,” the written statement read.
Veloria’s group reminded Flores that their responsibility as student council officers is to protect the rights and welfare of students.
They also clarified that they are not against the construction of the walk path because it would benefit students, especially during inclement weather. They made it clear that their responsibility is to ask the university to shoulder the construction and not draw the funds from the SSC.
The Anakbayan-SLU chapter supported Veloria and his group’s demand that funds used to construct the walk path be reverted to the student fund. It said the funds were mysteriously drawn from the student fund without the knowledge of the secretary for finance.
“The SSC is a training ground for the youth to become worthy people’s servants and not a training ground for graft and corruption,” Anakbayan said in a support statement.
Veloria maintains that he was arbitrarily expelled by Flores who cited his alleged four absences in Execom meetings as grounds. Veloria contested this in another letter.
Anakbayan believed the expulsion did not go through due process. It supported Veloria’s analysis that he was expelled due to Flores’ s “disregard for democratic processes” as embodied in the SSC by-laws.
Flores alleged that he could not find proof that Veloria was never absent in meetings because no documents could be found in the SSC office.
The appointment of John Balignasay as a replacement for Veloria was not approved by the Congress of Louisians. Instead the Congress ruled that Veloria should be reinstated for lack of basis for expulsion.
Aquino and Cortez are reportedly threatened with expulsion for supporting Veloria. Like Veloria, they were voted into office by the student population, according to Anakbayan.
Flores, 29, a downtown village captain here, is a nursing student. Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat