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Atio’s mom ‘overjoyed’ with stronger anti-hazing law, son’s ‘painful purpose’

The mother of slain UST law freshman and hazing victim Horacio “Atio” Castillo III was “overjoyed” with the passage of the stronger anti-hazing law, stating it is her son’s “painful purpose.”

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Photo by Elizabeth Nicole Regudo/TomasinoWeb.

The mother of slain UST law freshman and hazing victim Horacio “Atio” Castillo III was “overjoyed” with the passage of the stronger anti-hazing law, stating it is her son’s “painful purpose.”

“We are overjoyed with the law being signed. We thank the President and all the senators and congressmen for putting their hands together in passing this law,” Carmina Castillo told TomasinoWeb in a text message.

She added: “This (new anti-hazing law) is for our generation. This law gives meaning to our son[,] Atio, a painful purpose.”

Atio died last September allegedly due to the hazing rites performed by some of the members of Aegis Juris Fraternity.

Almost a year into Atio’s hazing death, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 into law, which bans all forms of hazing and imposes stiffer penalties if a hazing rite leads to death, rape, sodomy or mutilation.

The definition of hazing has now also been extended to any “physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit, neophyte, applicant or member as part of an initiation rite or a requirement for continuing membership in a fraternity or sorority or organization.”

The measure is an amendment of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995, which allows regulated hazing when there is consent from the school authorities or organization head. 

Carmina slammed the act of hazing, moreover, as a “false notion of brotherhood.”

“Hazing is a false notion of brotherhood, serving loyalty to the fraternity. Loyalty must only be for our family, country and God,” she expressed.

Meanwhile, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, one of the authors of the amended law, dedicated the measure to Atio.

“We dedicate this to Atio Castillo. He did not die in vain and his legacy lives on in this law,” he said in an interview.

“[The law] will make all fratmen stop senseless violence in their initiation rites. It will strengthen unity against violence and promote peace in and out of our campuses,” he added.

The 22-year-old Thomasian’s death sparked moves to amend the previous anti-hazing policy.

Last March 23, the 10 Aegis Juris members charged in Atio’s hazing death surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation.

The arraignment of the indicted fraternity members will be on July 24.—B. Laforga

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De Lima files new campus press-freedom bill

Senator Leila de Lima has filed a bill seeking greater protection for campus journalists on Sunday, July 15.

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campus freedom bill
Photo by Alecsandra Go/TomasinoWeb.

Senator Leila de Lima has filed a bill seeking greater protection for campus journalists on Sunday, July 15.

Senate Bill 1868 aims to repeal Republic Act 7079, the first measure on campus journalism approved in 1991, for a “genuine” campus press freedom.

“It is…unsurprising to find student journalists in conflict with institutions who use their authority to quell free speech and expression. Throughout history, many student editors and writers have been persecuted,” De Lima said.

“By repealing the present law, and replacing it with a law that genuinely upholds campus press freedom, we can once again reclaim campus journalism as it once were—an unbiased, untainted avenue of self-expression, critical and creative thinking, and a beacon of nationalism and democracy,” she added.

Under the measure, a student publication in higher educational institutions shall have full autonomy from the school with the content, the editorial policies, the selection of its staff and the handling of its funds.

The bill also prohibits the delay, suspension and close of a publication without due process on the basis of its content and performance of its staff.

A student journalist shall, likewise, not be suspended, expelled or punished with administrative sanction solely on the basis of the article he or she has written, except when the work has violated the law of the country and the school.

The student’s performance, moreover, should not affect his or her dismissal from the publication.

The measure also allows terminated publications by the school administration to be revived and allowed to operate again.

All institutions are further mandated to establish a student publication.

Violators of the bill shall be punished with one to five years of imprisonment and a fine of P10,000 to P200,000. The present law does not penalize the perpetrators.

The proposed bill cites the other campus press freedom violations as interrogation, intimidation and harassment of the publication staff by the school administration, faculty members and the military; “actual arbitrary” censorship of editorial content; restraint and non-collection of publication fees; dissolution or suspension of a publication’s operations; and refusal to reopen closed student publications.

The Senator’s move followed the recent “attempted suppression” by the San Beda University (SBU) to block the distribution of a Bedan Roar, the official student publication of SBU-Senior High School, issue.

The issue contained a front page depicting President Rodrigo Duterte sitting on a throne of machine guns on top of corpses, De Lima noted.

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Protests vs charter change, ‘dictatorship’ mark People Power commemoration

Groups slammed plans to amend the constitution as a move toward another dictatorship as they commemorated the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

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Photo by Mark Darius Sulit/TomasinoWeb.

Thousands flocked to the People Power Monument on Saturday and Sunday to protest plans to amend the constitution and to condemn the administration’s “dictatorship” as the country commemorated the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

The No to Cha-cha Coalition led by Movement Against Tyranny, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and various religious formations marched to the historic monument Saturday afternoon, Feb. 24, where they decried President Rodrigo Duterte as a “budding dictator.”

“[Former dictator Ferdinand] Marcos’ (sic) ouster is a grim reminder to all budding dictators, including Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, that our people will never allow tyranny to reign,” Movement Against Tyranny in a statement.

The group further warned Duterte that “[s]hould he persist in his policies of extrajudicial killings, all-out war, dictatorial rule, and subservience to foreign powers, he will surely suffer the same fate as Marcos.”

The People Power Revolution led to the ousting of the Marcos regime and restored democracy in the country in 1986 after years marked with human rights violations and suppression of dissent.

The uprising also gave birth to the 1987 Constitution, which Duterte and his allies are now planning to amend through a charter change in order to establish a federal form of government.

Movement Against Tyranny has slammed the planned charter change as an “act of tyranny.”

Meanwhile, in the protest program led by opposition group Tindig Pilipinas Sunday evening, Feb. 25, Lanz Espacio of Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa rejected the moves to amend the constitution.

“The basic sectors are not asking for a constitutional change, but for a change in their condition, which was not uplifted in the last 32 years,” Espacio said.

Opposition senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino and Antonio Trillanes IV also joined the Sunday rally.

Trillanes, who has hounded Duterte with accusations of ill-gotten wealth, told reporters that he believes “na nagbabago na ang ihip ng hangin [at] nararamdaman na ng mga kababayan natin ang false promises ni Duterte, at worse, humihirap ang buhay nila ngayon.”

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The protests on Saturday and Sunday also coincided with “Dasal at Ayuno Laban sa Cha-cha, Para sa Demokrasya: Pag-amin, Pagtitika, Pagababago at Pagkakaisa,” a nine-day prayer and fasting vigil at the People Power Monument that started on Feb. 17, Saturday, led by Catholic clergy and laity group Gomburza.

In a statement, Gomburza leader Fr. Robert Reyes said the administration “seeks to cast aside this legacy, proposing to replace it with a federalist project short on social justice principles and long on authoritarian possibilities lurking beneath its extravagant promises.”

Duterte’s remarks and stand on certain issues have led to critics to tag him as a “dictator,” a label which he has seemingly acknowledged and even accepted.

In a gathering with former New People’s Army cadres last Feb. 7, the President stated, “Muingon mo’g diktador, diktador gyud ko. Kay og ‘di ko mag-diktador, putang ina, walang mangyayari sa bayan na ‘to (If you say I am a dictator, then I am. If I will not become a dictator, son of a bitch, nothing will happen to this country).

Along with charter change and threats to declare a “revolutionary government,” critics cite Duterte allowing the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the imposition of martial law in Mindanao May last year and its subsequent extension until the end of this year, extrajudicial killings linked to the drug war, and his tirades against the media and opposition personalities as signs of the President’s dictatorial tendencies.

Duterte skipped the commemoration rites which was attended by former President Fidel Ramos and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, but nonetheless called for “unity and solidarity.”

“May this occasion foster unity and solidarity as we pursue our hopes and aspirations for our nation. Let us further enrich our democracy by empowering our citizenry, defending their rights and strengthening the institutions that safeguard their freedoms,” the President said in a statement.—A. Ortega

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Students decry Duterte’s ‘tyranny’ in mass walkout

Students also pushed the protest on Twitter with the hashtag #WalkoutPH, which became one of the trending hashtags on Friday.

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Photo by Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

Students from various schools and universities in Metro Manila walked out of their classes on Friday to protest the Duterte administration’s “tyranny” and “anti-people” policies.

Around 1,000 protesters from militant student and youth groups trooped to España carrying banners and placards condemning numerous issues such as extrajudicial killings, the implementation of the free tuition policy and tuition fee hikes, the tax reform law, the phaseout of old jeepneys in the modernization program, the extension of martial law in Mindanao and charter change.

The protesters then marched to Morayta carrying an effigy of Duterte as a king holding a rod with a swastika and wearing a long red cape listing the administration’s “oppressive” policies.

The effigy was accompanied by four men wearing masks in the likeness of Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

In the program in front of the Far Eastern University, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago slammed “threats of dictatorship” and called on the youth to push for social reforms.

“Ang mga kabataan ay handang lumaban para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa, handang lumaban para sa pambansang industriyalisasyon, handang lumaban para sa libreng edukasyon sa lahat ng antas, handang lumaban para ang walang boses naman sa ating lipunan ang magkaroon ng boses,” Elago said.

Editors and leaders from different school publications, media organizations and student councils also decried “attacks” on press freedom during the protest in the midst of the President’s tirades against online news site Rappler and the banning of their reporters from the Malacañang.

Micah Rimando, editor-in-chief of Matanglawin Ateneo, said that despite these attacks, “kaming mga estudyanteng mamamahayag [ay patuloy na] magiging mulat at mapagmulat laban sa anumang atake sa karapatan ng sambayanan.”

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Meanwhile, Mikko Ringia, UP College of Mass Communication Student Council chairperson, urged student journalists to fight for “genuine” press freedom and to stand with marginalized sectors.

“Hindi ibig sabihin na ibinalik na ang license ng Rappler ay mayroon nang press freedom. Hindi ibig sabihin na wala nang libel case ang mga journalist ay andiyan na ang press freedom. Ang tunay na press freedom ay [ang] pagpapalaya sa uring pinagsasamantalahan,” Ringia said.

Activist fisherfolk, labor, and peasant groups joined students from the University of Santo Tomas, University of the Philippines (UP), Ateneo de Manila University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of the East and the National University as they marched to Mendiola later that night, where they continued and ended the protest.

Students also pushed the protest on Twitter with the hashtag #WalkoutPH, which became one of the trending hashtags on Friday, earning more than 3,000 tweets and at least 2.6 million impressions.

Militant youth groups staged similar walkout protests in Baguio and Cebu, which came two days before the 32nd anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

Various groups are expected to hold more demonstrations in the days leading to the commemoration of the uprising that toppled the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Feb. 22, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque warned that students from state universities could face expulsion should they participate in the protests.

“Bahala po sila kung gusto nilang ma-kickout sila. Sayang po ‘yan lalong lalo na yung sa nakikinabang sa libreng tuition,” Roque said.

Nonetheless, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan endorsed the demonstrations in a memorandum, encouraging student participation in the protests “as part of their education.”—P. Jamilla

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