Ateneo PolSci Bloggers

A Reaction to Sanggunian Resolution No. 20091103

In Elections, Politics, Youth on November 22, 2009 at 4:07 am

by Rosselle Tugade

Note: The resolution in its full content can be accessed via Sanggu President Gio Tingson’s Facebook page.

With the release of Resolution No. 20091103, the possession of the assaulting spirit of totalitarianism upon the Ateneo Sanggunian has come into full circle.

The Sanggunian’s latest directive that calls for the resignation of unregistered officers reeks heavily of the illusory images imposed by Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia upon its people back then: that the power of the individual to fabricate change out of a vacuum through singular acts as per established procedures is the pinnacle of political participation. This, in turn, necessitates the disavowal of a critical awareness of what genuine struggles for justice and freedom truly demands. To put it simply, it seems that the Sanggunian has severely fallen out of touch with the understanding that the deep political crises of our time requires consistent and chronic engagement outside the self-gratifying and solitary act of voting in the upcoming elections.

An allergy to the lessons of history needs to be addressed within the ideological fundamentals (or apparent lack thereof) of the Ateneo Sanggunian. This written statement seeks to reverse exactly that very same propensity. At this point, it is necessary to be reminded of the Sanggunian’s past crimes to the virtues of democracy in order to realize that it has done a great disservice to the Ateneo community yet again. One must recall that earlier this year, an equally absurd and anti-political resolution has been passed by the Sanggu which effectively abolished political parties–one of the last few bastions of potential democratic flourishing in the Ateneo–in favor of administrative expediency. The pattern of severe misinterpretation of democracy and politics has dipped into a new low with the consolidation of the Central Board’s decision in Resolution 20091103.

Though it may be argued that the Sanggunian has passed the resolution with the issue of addressing Atenean apathy in mind, the said body cannot be acquitted of the charge that they have reduced the practice of democratic citizenship with the totalizing act of casting a single vote in 2010. Centuries and cycles of oppression and violence which caused the birth and perpetuation of structures of injustices cannot be reversed by such an incremental act. While being vigilant of what may transpire in next year’s electoral exercise is significant, the fight for democracy and justice for those truly marginalized is located beyond the confines of formal procedures and temporal time frames of election seasons. Authentic political discernment–the very essence called for by the Sanggunian–does not start with the acquiescence to State-mandated procedures; rather, it begins with a simultaneous dissection of the significance of contemporary notions of participation to historical struggles and a critical re-thinking of and possible need to radicalize and problematize them.

Never mind that the directive is “optional” for all Sanggunian officers. The totalitarian strain running within the resolution does not lie in the force of law it has over its constituency. The violence being bannered by the directive rests in its legitimation and declaration that in order to fulfill the task of democratic citizenship and political action, there is no other way but to vote and assert the power of choice come May 2010–that one becomes less political when engaging in activities other than registering and voting. I personally support the notion that the upcoming election is crucial in that it is a node of opportunity to penetrate and create ruptures within the established structures of the State. However, such a commitment requires that the community must expend greater attention and effort to struggles that have taken place in the terrain of Philippine politics for so long–those which have spanned centuries and cannot be resolved by once-in-a-while displays of citizenship.

Political reflections made after World War II warn of the dangers of prescribing an exemplary mode of doing politics to the community vis-a-vis the creation of the idea that sensitivity to underlying institutionally-caused violence is unnecessary, for the power of the individual to change reality is paramount. A holocaust in the Ateneo is not too far behind, then: there will come a time that diverse political action and imagination will be dead at the expense of the victory of a single triumphant body.

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