“He just vanished.”


The Viscan student body was sent into a frenzy after the announcement of the University Supreme Student Council Baybay (USSC) regarding their organizational restructuring for the second semester of this academic year, posted Friday, February 9. Former Vice President Ryan Iliada officially assumed the position of president after Jhon Rey Gardon ceased enrollment from the university leaving the position vacant. 


“On February 7, 2024, Vice-President Ryan Ilaida officially assumed the role of president in accordance with the provisions outlined in Article XIII, Section 2, Subsection A of the USSC-Baybay Constitution and By-Laws which states that ‘If the office vacated is that of the President, the Vice-President shall automatically assume as President.’ With the assumption of Hon. Ilaida as the new USSC-Baybay President, the position of Vice-President now stands vacant,” the USSC wrote on their official Facebook page. 


The post garnered various reactions and speculations about the whereabouts of former President Gardon and the reasons for his non-enrollment.   


“He just vanished,” said Sanny Dumpa in an interview with AMARANTH, member of the Board of Directors and Chairperson of the Committee on Justice and Student’s Rights.


The Allegations

Since late last year, AMARANTH has been receiving various allegations from sources who requested anonymity regarding possible “misuse” of funds by former President Gardon. The USSC has stirred away from confirming these allegations as matters are still under investigation. 


Viscans expressed their concerns about the absence of the USSC President during the signing of clearance for the council’s semestral contribution. Some students have pointed out why Ryan Ilaida, vice president at the time, was the one who signed on the president’s behalf. Others also observed the USSC Vice-President Ilaida’s frequent appearances at some major university events, solidifying him as the new face of the USSC.

In an interview with AMARANTH, the USSC confirmed that last November 27, Gardon was already suspended from office and Vice President Ryan Ilaida became the OIC.

Earlier from that, AMARANTH also received information regarding the then USSC President Gardon for being allegedly suspended from the office on grounds of “malversation of funds.” Days later, information circulated through forwarded online messages and online forums that the grounds for the suspension of Gardon was due to alleged corruption.

Additional informants came forward about the amount of money that was allegedly “corrupted”, while other informants would say “misused” that reached a “speculated” maximum amount of P50,000 to P80,000 which they allegedly used for unofficial transactions during a leadership convention in Boracay.

In response, the USSC said that the trip to Boracay was not financed by the USSC but by the University Supreme Student Council Federation (USSCF).

“Regarding on that matter, their trip to Boracay, I’m sorry but the USSC is not accountable for that because that event is by USSCF,” said Dumpa. Further, Ilaida also added that Gardon did not represent the USSC at that time.

“Jhon Rey represented USSCF, so he’s not connected, it’s a different office, and sa VSU to ang fund,” Ilaida said.

A whistleblower, a close acquaintance of the former president and member of the student council, claimed that the money involved was estimated to be P30,000 and further claimed that some of the speculated money was in Gardon’s hands and the rest was lent to other organizations.

“20k daw kay na adto ha iya which is a bit questionable nganu ideposit man niya sa iya bank account. 3k gipautang niya sa CAFS, another 3k sa federation, and others pa na I forgot na kung gi unsa to. Basta na total hiya hin 30,000”


The Fundamentals


Prior to the State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA-8), which was hosted by VSU last year, USSC Auditor Rey Jay Sablan discovered some discrepancies in the liquidation process for the council’s financial report. A meeting was supposed to be held to discuss this matter but was postponed due to the said regional event. 


On November 11, a meeting was presided by Ilaida to tackle the issue, but Gardon was absent because of an official travel to Villaba, Leyte for a separate federation meeting.


Three days prior to a meeting set for November 27 (the last board meeting where Gardon was present), the council had already sent him a notice to attend but to no avail. In order to convene the meeting, Dumpa fetched Gardon from his boarding house and had him preside over as the USSC President.


When asked during the meeting, Gardon acknowledged depositing the missing fund to his personal bank account “for safekeeping”- a move that the council unanimously regarded as inappropriate citing Section 1, Article X (General Funds) of USSC-Baybay Constitution and By-Laws (CBL) which stipulates that, “The USSC – Baybay Campus shall manage its funds accordingly subject to all provisions concerning proper use of funds and allocations.”


Dumpa further explains that bisa pag wala siya intention, malicious intention—di man na pwede kay money man na sa council.”  


The Commission on Sanctions, along with the Commission on Justice, as specified in Article VIII Section 1 of the council’s CBL which states that “Negligence of the duties and responsibilities of each member is subject to sanctions as per determined by the Committee on Sanctions through an approved resolution provided that it is in line with the rules and regulations of the University and in relation with Article VI,” carried a motion to impose a preventive suspension to Gardon, which was later on raised to temporary suspension citing that he had committed two (2) counts of violations for each of the cited regulation in the council’s CBL. 


These violations come from each of the following regulations: Article XI Section 1. The USSC-Baybay Office is a student trust. Its officers must be accountable to its members, serve them with utmost responsibility, honesty, integrity, efficiency, loyalty, impartiality, justice, and transparency; and lead them academically and socially; and Article XII Section 1: Term of Office, a. The newly-elected set of officers shall assume their office first semester of the succeeding school year after officially proclaimed by the Student Election Board (SEB), b. The term of office of the USSC-Baybay Board shall be one (1) year or until their successors are elected, c. No USSC-Baybay Board Officer shall be eligible to serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office.


However, in his defense, Gardon asserts that his action was merely an "admission of guilt"  and only took responsibility for the missing fund just to have someone accountable from the council. 


“But I was put in a tight spot at that moment, so ang naa ra sa ako mind is we need someone to be accountable,” Gardon defended. 


On the other hand, Rio Ann Ronato, the USSC Treasurer, was also found to have committed “negligence of duty.” Following a vote, the majority consented to impose a “probationary status” on Ronato until the end of the first semester.


The council, however, ruled out that Ronato “is not guaranteed to be affiliated” to Gardon’s actions, and pointed out that this was a “one-man act.” At the onset of the second semester, the board absolved Ronato of the probationary status and was allowed to retain her position as the USSC Treasurer.


On January 19, the draft for the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for impeachment trials was approved. This provided the council with the opportunity to initiate a trial against the former President, however, Gardon decided not to enroll for the second semester. He has also not filed for a Leave of Absences (LOA) as per Ilaida’s inquiry to the Dean of Students Office (DSO).


This implies that the council could no longer enforce the IRR, as only "bonafide students" of VSU currently holding a post in authority, may be subjected to an impeachment. As a result, his absence automatically removed him from office as a provision outlined in Article XIII, Section 2, Subsection A of the USSC-Baybay CBL  stating that the vice president shall take over the role of the president should the office be vacated. 


The council has forwarded the board agreement to the DSO to establish a legal foundation for withholding Gardon's credentials until his obligations to the council were resolved.


#NasaanAngPangulo?: Gardon’s Official Statement Regarding his Absence 


In an exclusive interview with AMARANTH, Former USSC President Jhon Rey Gardon stated that the reason why he ceased enrollment for the second semester was because of “personal reasons'’, contrary to the belief that he left the university due to the speculation of misuse of funds.  

“There were personal reasons as to why I didn’t enroll for the second semester,” he opted not to disclose further details with regard to this matter.

Gardon also expressed that even before the semester started and the “issue” made rounds, he was already contemplating whether to continue his studies during the first semester. 

Prior to his absence this semester, Gardon was already suspended by the USSC in November 2023. He explained that his suspension was based upon a couple of articles in their CBL which he violated as stated by the council, something which he admittingly was oblivious of after being asked for such specific provisions. 

This coincides with the council’s stand, through Dumpa, that the sanctions imposed on Gardon are all based on violations of provisions in the CBL and not necessarily from the question of missing funds.

By his time of suspension, Gardon consulted the Office of the Vice-President on Student Affairs and Services (OVPSAS), and they responded to let the council finish the liquidation process first and wait for the constitutionality of the suspension.

When asked about his existing connection with the USSC, Gardon said that his last contact with the council was last month, January, which was also his last meeting with them. This was to further notify the board of his non-enrollment in the coming semester and it also served as his unofficial exit as the USSC President. 


He also explicated that he admits to the multiplicity of his violations in their CBL, letting the council to take necessary measures through an in-depth investigation regarding the issue. 

“Yeah, I did. That’s why if they want to conduct an investigation. Pursue it.” Gardon said.

“Mishandling of funds”


The USSC, through Dumpa, did not fully disclose the question on the funds yet and lamented that it was not necessarily ‘stolen’ but is with Gardon who he said claimed to have the money for “safekeeping”. However, Gardon said in a separate interview with AMARANTH, that the funds are not with him.


“With regards to the fund actually. Honestly, wala jud sa ako. Ako nalang gi buhat, gi-ako nalang nako ba,” Gardon said.


When asked about why he had to ‘take the responsibility’  even if he allegedly didn’t have the money, Gardon said that he feels that “they have to be accountable for this”. 


“We had a meeting with the council last November about that. It’s kind of hard for me, so I defended myself that I don’t have that kind of money, so wala siya sa ako. But I was put in a tight spot that moment, so ang naa ra sa ako mind is we need someone to be accountable. We need someone in the council will be held accountable.” Gardon asserts.  

The USSC has disclosed that the exact amount in question is P30,030.00. This amount, they said, was transferred by Gardon to his personal bank account to ‘safekeep’.  


Gardon said in a separate interview that he is ‘skeptical’ of the amount he is supposed to return.

“Kasi ang kana nga amount ambot nganu ni abot ug ingon ana gyud. Pero there were allegations nga nakaabot sa ako nga hala dako-a man diay aning ako ibalik, nga wa ko kahibalo nga ibalik man diay ni nako. There were allegations nga ning kalat nga naka-abot sa ako pud nga pataka lagi ni sila gi-storya nga dili man ingon ani gud. So nakatawa nalang ko ani. So I contacted a member of the council nga nganu ingon ani ang nigawas lagi, mao gi contact nako sila,” Gardon said. 

The allegations regarding the funds, according to Gardon, have surfaced even before the council is not yet finished with their audit but he reiterated that he just “took the responsibility” despite that and will look for ways to return the money.

“But ang nahitabo gud ani is that after that gi-ako nalang jud nako. So I told them I will find ways, I will look ways, mangita kog paagi bisan wala sa ako.”

When asked about how the council came up with the said amount even before the audit was finished, Gardon stated that this was a ‘failure [sala]’ on his part and that there was a “mishandling of funds” that transpired. 

Gardon further admitted that he handled a certain amount of money in the absence of the treasurer. 

“I remember na… nga naa koy gigunitan na money because during that time wala ang treasurer, so automatically, the President will hold the money. And then, as time pass by, there were expenses in the council nga wala pud didto na state, nga ingon ani gamiton sa money, ingon ana. Then, when I presented the receipts, wala nila gidawat.”

The receipts were not accepted by the council for auditing, as per Gardon, because the expenses were not intended primarily for the original purposes of the funds.

“The expenses man gud ato kay dili man gud naka state didto sa dapat paggamitan sa money because the money was meant for something and wala pud siya nasunod ato.”

Gardon refrained from answering where the money should originally be used but has redirected the question to the council and reaffirmed in taking the “responsibility”.

“Pero ang ako ra gyud na masulti is… Just to make it clear, ako ra gyud isulti is gi-ako gud nalang na nako, gi-ako nalang na nako tanan thinking that everything will be clear by next week, next month something like that,” he explained. 


What comes after?

Gardon guaranteed his willingness to give back the missing funds and the USSC disclosed that he is currently working to pay for the amount.

“Dugay na namo na nasabutan na ibalik na nako bisag wala koy dapat ibalik,” Gardon said.

Initially granted until December 4, 2023, Gardon was later given a 30-day extension based on recommendations by the OVPSAS. However, throughout this time, Gardon made no communication with the council, pushing for another extension. 


As per the current arrangement, the USSC has set a two-month deadline for Gardon to return the money he allegedly kept for “safekeeping.”


“Less gani to dapat pero considering the advice sa amo adviser nga di baya lalim mangitag kwarta and also student factor baya. So mao to February, so dapat March niya macomply,” Ilaida explains.


Dumpa further explained that the USSC will be handing the case to the legal office if Gardon fails to recoup the money before their set deadline.


Moreover, if Gardon will be able to comply with their conditions, he will be allowed to claim his credentials from the university.


“As long as maclear niya ang iya liabilities, he’s good as new,” Dumpa clarified.


The USSC also assured that their service to the student body will still carry on despite the controversy.


“What he did already penetrated our operations and systems. However, it won't hinder the USSC Baybay, especially with our new president, Ryan Ilaida. We’re still continuing those plans that we proposed in the first general assembly. And of course, the second assembly, we’re trying our best to finish all of them before this academic year ends. We assure the studentry, all the members of USSC Baybay, we will continue our job,” Renel Emberso, Committee Head on Education, said.


Lastly, in Gardon’s parting words with AMARANTH, he relayed a message to the Viscans in an effort to clear his name.


“If you’re a leader, everything is your fault,” Gardon exclaimed.


[Erratum: A part of the article was edited where it mentioned that Gardon was absent during the November 11 meeting due to his participation in the PACSA convention. After verification and clarification from the USSC, it has been corrected to "federation meeting." We apologize for any confusion.]

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