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PRESS RELEASE: Renew ABS-CBN franchise, Defend Press Freedom

As members of the Thomasian community, guided by the virtues of veritas in caritate, we, the student publications and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas, strongly condemn the recent attacks of the Duterte administration on the media especially on ABS-CBN.

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Deojon Elarco/TomasinoWeb

FEBRUARY 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a joint statement of student publications and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas. 

Today, we are witnessing another brazen attack against the press.

As members of the Thomasian community, guided by the virtues of veritas in caritate, we, the student publications and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas, strongly condemn the recent attacks of the Duterte administration on the media especially on ABS-CBN.

Despite the protection of freedom of expression in  the 1987 Constitution, President Duterte and his lapdogs continue to find themselves stuck in an endless loop of scrutinizing various media institutions. 

From the harassment of campus publications up to threats of revocation against the mainstream media, it is clear that the Duterte administration is not an ally of the press.

In an attempt to hasten the franchise revocation of broadcast network ABS-CBN, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against broadcast network ABS-CBN, last February 10, 2020. Tagged by Calida as a “very urgent omnibus motion”, the petition was filed in the Supreme Court due to the network giant’s “unlawful exercise of legislative franchises.”

The actions of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the tolerance of the Duterte administration towards this matter is a grave disrespect to press freedom. The maneuver of the OSG sets a dangerous precedence in the future, where the legalese is bent to further suppress the media. 

Censorship has always been the weapon of dictators. In fact, the actions and policies of the current administration strongly live by the Marcosian playbook—where the truth has no place in the society. 47 years ago, the ABS-CBN found itself in the same situation when its channel 2 was shut down after it was seized by the military a day after the declaration of Martial Law. For 13 years, Filipinos lived in the darkness and silence of Martial Law. Any form of criticism was suppressed. The media became a propaganda tool of the government. Behind the “discipline” and “order” are the shadows of cruelty not just on the media but also on the Filipino society. If the Duterte administration can easily threaten network giants, the harm it can conflict to small-scale publications, to human rights defenders, to common Filipinos, is insurmountable.

The crackdown on ABS-CBN not only affects the operations of media in the country but also displaces tens of thousands of employees. Last 2017, Sandy Prieto of the Philippine Daily Inquirer also found herself in the same situation into giving up her family’s 25-year control of Inquirer after pressures from Duterte’s administration, and was ultimately sold to Ramon S. Ang, a business tycoon and close friend of Duterte. Last 2019, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was arrested for the alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law and “cyber libel” charges in 2012. A few weeks ago, a community journalist along with four human rights workers were arrested for alleged possession of firearms and explosives. These recent attacks are reminiscent of the Marcos regime; that era itself marks the rape of the Philippine press.

Our duties and responsibilities as media practitioners are tantamount to our role as the Fourth Estate, which refers to our capability to evaluate and check the government’s performance. Without critical engagement and discourse, the state is free to tamper with our rights without hesitation. Refusing to fight for our rights as campus press further amplifies the systemic aggression that plagues the newsroom we belong to. 

Once more, we vehemently condemn President Duterte’s attempts in silencing the press and the administration’s reliance on misinformation to advance its own version of truth.

Amidst the ongoing firestorm that threatens freedom of the press, let us be reminded that we must uphold the truth to protect the sanctity of the freedom of speech and of expression.

 

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RABIN P. BOTE

President, TomasinoWeb

 

JOHN AARON C. PANGILINAN

Executive Editor, TomasinoWeb

 

JEFSON ROMEO B. FELIX

EIC, Purple Gazette

 

JAMES EDVER O. MERCADO

President/Director, UST Tiger S.H.O.O.T.

 

CLARENCE PRYCE O. ALMAZAN

President, Performing Arts Guild

 

LOUISE JULIE W. PABICO

Editor-in-Chief, UST College of Science Journal 

 

BERNICE KYRENE P. GUTIERREZ

Editor-in-Chief, Accountancy Journal

 

PEACH ARIANNA P. MANOS

Associate Editor, The Flame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE: Leave no student behind! Academic ease now!

The Thomasian free press have seen and heard the call of the student body – whether unaffected or not – to leave no one behind. We call upon the administration to do the same. 

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(Photo by Vince Imperio/TomasinoWeb)

Four typhoons – Rolly, Quinta, Siony, and Ulysses – have ravaged the Philippines in less than a month during the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The devastation has incited mass efforts and a collective demand for accountability from the national government as well as calls for humane responses to the events that have led to the displacement of thousands of Filipinos. 

The University of Santo Tomas has chosen to respond to these by opting to resume classes on Monday, November 16, 2020, as stipulated by Memorandum No. 21 which was released by the Office of the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and the Office of the Secretary-General among the colleges. 

The said memorandum indicates that synchronous and asynchronous classes are to resume tomorrow, that they shall be recorded, that no attendance shall be checked, that passing of assessments and submissions may begin on November 20, and that preliminary examinations for General Education courses shall be moved accordingly for the sake of maintaining the delivery of quality education despite the said devastating recent events.   

However, the undersigned strongly disavow this lukewarm decision made by an institution that claims to adhere to the Thomasian value of compassion. This call for action is based on the premises that:

  • Several lives have been lost and many remain missing;
  • Students lack adequate resources for online classes such as electricity, internet connection, review materials, etc. due to destruction of property;
  • Families have lost access to basic needs, such as proper shelter, clothing, water, and food;
  • Deterioration of students’ mental health has become rampant due to academic workload, situational factors, and personal issues and;
  • Filipinos suffer from the lack of proper response and disaster plan from authorities.

As such, to expect the student body to act as if disasters can be forgotten within a weekend is an irresponsible and tone-deaf response that is indicative of an administration that is privileged and far removed from the turmoil experienced on ground.

As members of the free press, the following student publications, acting as representatives of the students of the University of Santo Tomas, call for the following actions from the administration:

  1. Implementation of an Academic Break, including the postponement of synchronous and asynchronous classes, until all Thomasians have re-established the necessary resources to participate in academic works;
  2. Reinstatement of the In-Progress System (INP) to give students ample time to finish requirements and assessments that cannot bemet due to the current situation, including extension or postponement of deadlines and;
  3. Creation of an updated and inclusive tracker of affected students, faculty, and staff to establish proper communication and to extend assistance to those who are in need through various Thomasian organizations.
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What we deserve is an administration adhering to its three core values of competence, compassion, and commitment, and not a group of individuals too privileged to see the realities beyond their ivory towers. With the circumstances at hand, now is not the time to force the student body to comply with their academics.

If anything, this decision can and will only prove to be counterproductive to the goal of maintaining “quality education.” In fact, it will be the last thing to be achieved if the administration fails to see this. What the Thomasian community needs now is time: to grieve for the families, livelihoods, and properties that we’ve lost, to acknowledge the uncertainties of our situation, to move forward with what’s left, and to fight for a more reasonable approach from the government.  

The Thomasian free press have seen and heard the call of the student body – whether unaffected or not – to leave no one behind. We call upon the administration to do the same. 

 

BRIN RAIZULLI ISAAC
President & Executive Editor
TomasinoWeb

JOSE RAFAEL BALLECER
Executive Vice President & Managing Editor
TomasinoWeb

JEANNY NOVA PUNAY
Editor-in-Chief
College of Science Journal

LYN MARIELLE ABESAMIS
Associate Editor
College of Science Journal

JUSTIN CHRISTOPHER C. RAMOS
Editor-in-Chief
Commerce Journal

ARRIANE LOUISE M. GULAPA
Managing Editor
Commerce Journal

JEFSON ROMEO B. FELIX
Editor-in-Chief
Purple Gazette

EMMANUEL VENER R. MARCADEJAS
Associate Editor
Purple Gazette

PEACH MANOS
Associate Editor
The Flame

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Government officials invited to react on the Youth Declaration for Climate Justice ahead 25 September, ‘Global Day of Climate Action’

Environmental and climate organizations come together to hold the Para Sa Klimabukasan Global Day of Climate Action, in solidarity with youth-led movements around the globe inspired by youth climate activist Greta Thunberg.

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METRO MANILA, 19 September 2020 – Environmental and climate organizations come together to hold the Para Sa Klimabukasan Global Day of Climate Action, in solidarity with youth-led movements around the globe inspired by youth climate activist Greta Thunberg. They carry the Youth Declaration for Climate Justice, a unified call of Filipino youth for the commitment of the government and corporations to implement bold climate actions and uphold climate justice.

“We are inviting government officials to react to the Youth Declaration on 23 September,” Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines Education and Research Committee Head, Sophia Caralde, said, “We want them to work on this Declaration and recognize the role of the youth in addressing the climate crisis. The Filipino youth is more than ready to work with the government to address the climate crisis and achieve climate justice.”

The Press Conference will be held on 23 September 10:00AM to 12:00NN. Confirmed reactors include Mr. John Colin E. Yokingko from CHR, Mr. Albert A. Magalang from DENR-EMB, Dr. Dexter Galban from POPCOM, and Atty. Antonio La Viña, Professor of Law, Politics and Governance, and Philosophy.

Afterwards, they will hold the culminating forum on 25 September 2020 from 4:00PM to 6:00PM to collate the responses of youth leaders as they discuss in a panel discussion the inclusion in the Youth Declaration for Climate Justice. Atty. Antonio Oposa Jr, internationally renowned and pioneering environmental advocate and creative litigator, will share his action points and policy recommendations.

#ParaSaKlimabukasan

#FightClimateInjustice

#GlobalDayOfClimateAction

#AsiaForClimate

Media partners include: Inquirer.Net, InqPOP!, Squeeze, My Pope Philippines, ASTIG.PH, TechKuya, Association of Young Environmental Journalists, Commoner, Realtalk Philippines, TomasinoWeb.org, The LaSallian, PUP DZMC Young Communicators’ Guild, Magnum Opus, The Blueprint Publication, and Heraldo Filipino.

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PRESS RELEASE: End impunity, defend press freedom!

Student publications, writers and media organizations of the University stand together to hold the line amidst the Duterte administration’s efforts to curtail the freedom of speech and expression. 

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Photo by Genise Danga/TomasinoWeb

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a joint statement of student publications and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas. 

We, the student publications and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas, strongly commit to hold the line along with other media organizations amidst the Duterte administration’s efforts to curtail the freedom of speech and expression. 

As we commemorate the tenth-year anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, numerous human rights violations against journalists and media organizations still remain at large. 

The arrest of community journalist Anne Krueger was one of the latest attacks on press freedom — a trend the administration is deemed to repeat regardless of criticism from local and international media. Krueger was unlawfully arrested with 56 others through simultaneous raids on various offices in Bacolod City under the pretext of communist subversion.

Minutes before her arrest, Krueger hosted a live broadcast on Facebook showing the irregularities committed by authorities through planting evidence to justify the arrest of other progressives. She is also one of the founders of Paghimutad, an alternative media organization covering the ongoing bloodshed in Negros.

Through President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70, a Whole-of-Nation approach was used by the administration to wrongfully tag progressive groups and human rights workers as members of the New People’s Army (NPA). 

Meanwhile, Negros-based broadcaster Dindo Generoso was the 14th journalist to be murdered under the Duterte administration and the 187th since 1986. He was shot by assailants last November 7 while driving on his way to host his radio program.

Earlier this year, the Duterte administration claimed the existence of an ouster plot that is allegedly supported by journalists, lawyers, and various critics. Organizations such as Rappler, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Metro Balita, and National Union of Lawyers in the Philippines, are one of those included in Duterte’s destabilization matrix.

In line with this, campus publications are unsafe from repression. Last November 16, an individual forcibly tried to enter the office of the Philippine Collegian, the University of the Philippine’s official student publication in order to conduct surveillance and inspections for an unknown reason. 

Aside from committing human rights violations against media practitioners, the Duterte administration is notorious for utilizing massive troll farms to combat the truth. A 2017 study of the University of Oxford included the Philippines in a list of countries with governments that utilizes social media manpower to bend public opinion. Data-mining firm, Cambridge Analytica and its parent company once claimed in an already archived article that it helped rebrand Duterte as a “strong, no-nonsense man of action” that would deliver the Philippines from crime. Last month, Facebook removed various Duterte-leaning pages for violating its terms and agreements on spam and authenticity.

WE, THE CAMPUS PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS, MUST STAY TRUE TO OUR SERVICE FOR TRUTH AND OPPOSE FALSE PROPAGANDA.

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American-based non-profit organization Committee to Protect Journalists declared the Maguindanao massacre as the “single deadliest event for journalists”. Ten years after its aftermath, justice is yet to be served. 

As Duterte approaches his fourth term in his presidency, bloodshed and violence against the media remain prevalent.

We, campus media organizations, amidst all the efforts to curtail our freedom, should always stand firm to stand by the truth and to hold the line.

Veritas in Caritate.


SIGNATORIES

RABIN P. BOTE
President
TomasinoWeb

JOHN AARON PANGILINAN
Executive Editor
TomasinoWeb

LOUISE JULIE W. PABICO 
Editor-in-Chief 
College of Science Journal 

BERNICE KYRENE P. GUTIERREZ
Editor-in-Chief
Accountancy Journal

PEACH ARIANNA P. MANOS
Associate Editor
The Flame

VES EVA REVLINE A. DILLA
Editor-in-Chief
La Stampa

JAMES EDVER O. MERCADO
President/Director
UST Tiger S.H.O.O.T

Patrick M. Demition
President/Artistic Director
Teatro Tomasino

Loraine B. Villarina
President
UST Literary Society

Clarence Pryce O. Almazan
President
Performing Arts Guild

Xyvel Vincent S. Niez
Editor-in-Chief
Commerce Journal

Jefson Romeo B. Felix
Editor-in-Chief
Purple Gazette

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