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Ateneo defeats UST in debate on SSS pension hike

The Ateneo de Manila University defeated the University of Santo Tomas in an inter-law school debate yesterday, Jan. 20, at the Senate. Debate sa Senado centered on whether or not Congress should override President Benigno Aquino III’s veto of the P2000 SSS pension hike or HB 5842.



The Ateneo de Manila University defeated the University of Santo Tomas in an inter-law school debate yesterday, Jan. 20, at the Senate.

Debate sa Senado centered on whether or not Congress should override President Benigno Aquino III’s veto of the P2000 SSS pension hike or HB 5842.

The Ateneo debate team composed of Natasha Daphne Marcelo, Rami Hourani and Zanjo Garcia argued in favor of a congressional override, while the UST team composed of Mark Vixen Dorado, Dianne Lucero and Jonalyn Roxas argued against it.

While UST did not win the Ateneo-organized debate, the adjudicators  lauded Dorado as the best speaker for the championship round.

Dorado was also hailed as ninth best speaker for the semi-finals round.

“I did my best. We sacrificed so many hours of sleep, [and] actually ngayon wala pa kaming tulog just for this. It’s really rewarding. It’s not just for me, this is for God, this is for UST,” Dorado said.

The debate followed the modified Oregon-Oxford format wherein an affirmative side argues in favor of a proposition and a negative side counters it. Each speaker was given four minutes to present their arguments.


‘Pension hike a necessity’

The Ateneo team said that the proposed pension hike would be of great help to the elderly and is necessary due to inflation.

“In overriding the President’s veto of HB 5842, it will enable government to fulfill its responsibility in caring for our elderly and at the same time, provide the SSS an impetus to improve its system as a whole,” said Marcelo.

“An additional P2000 for each pensioner can buy 11 kilograms of beef, 17 kilograms of fish or 10 kilograms of leafy greens. It can even get a month’s worth of maintenance medication or the school supplies for the youngest grandson,” said Hourani.

Marcelo also argued that the pension has been stagnant at P1200 since 1997 and has devalued by half, if pegged at a uniform inflation rate of 3.5 percent.

“This means that pensioners today are receiving less than half of what they were receiving back in 1997, and that is a very real problem that HB 5842 seeks to address,” she added.

However, the UST team maintained that the President’s veto of the bill was necessary.

Dorado countered that the policy cannot be supported due to “its dire financial consequences”, as the proposed hike would amount to P56 billion per year and would cause a P16 to P26 billion yearly deficit.

“The bill would surely benefit the two million pensioners and their dependents for now, but it would seriously, seriously compromise the stability of the entire SSS.”

Hourani contested by saying that the funding for the hike can be sourced through SSS investments, higher collection and by persecuting members who do not pay.

However, Roxas argued that Ateneo’s proposal would be “detrimental, burdensome and unsustainable” and is “non-beneficial to both benefactors and tax payers.” She also said that for every P6 shelled out for benefits, only P1 is contributed.

Garcia said that the SSS can simply source funding from the government treasury, but Roxas pointed out that the SSS must be bankrupt first before the government can enter to bail it out.

The UST team clarified that they are not against a pension hike, but only against a congressional override of the President’s veto.

“We would like to make it clear that this debate is not about being on the popular side, this debate is about being proper, being right,” said Dorado.

“The mandate of the Social Security System to provide significant protection to its members and their beneficiaries is not only confined to two million pensioners currently, but the future of the other 32 million members cannot be sacrificed at the outpour of this populous clamor,” said Lucero.

HB 5842 was authored by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and was only awaiting Aquino’s signature to be enacted into law, but the President refused to sign it because he claims that doing so would make the SSS bankrupt.

However, the Congress can override the presidential veto if the representatives gather a two-thirds vote to support the contested bill.


Ateneo-organized debate

Ten teams from six law schools competed in the semi-finals held at the Ateneo Law School in Makati last Jan. 16, with Ateneo and UST emerging as victors.

The championship round was adjudicated by Ateneo alumni Atty. Roland Glenn Tuazon, Sen. Francis Escudero’s lawyer Atty. Michael Vincent Galarosa and New Era University law dean Abraham Espejo, who also served as chief adjudicator.

Debate sa Senado was organized by the Ateneo St. Thomas More Debate and Advocacy Society in cooperation with the Senate Committee on Mass Media and Public Information headed by Sen. Grace Poe.

Poe was briefly present during the debate and encouraged the participants to continue in the art of debating and said that she hopes to see the participants in the Senate halls someday.

– Xave Gregorio/TomasinoWeb



Nationwide protests commemorates martial law declaration anniversary



A day before the 47th anniversary of former president Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law, several progressive organizations merged to Rizal Park, Thursday, September 20 to denounce the atrocities committed by the Duterte administration.


With the theme of “Laban Kabataan, Laban Bayan! Inhustisya at Diktadura, Wakasan!”, the protest focused on condemning the supposed historical revisionism of the Marcos era, as well as criticizing the current administration’s injustices against the Filipinos, such as the infamous Oplan Tokhang, Mayor Sanchez and the GCTA fiasco, and its complacency to address territorial disputes.


Despite the inclement weather, decentralized protest actions and gatherings spearheaded by different progressive student organizations around the University Belt were held at around 12 am before converging at Morayta to march together along with the rest of the multi-sectoral organizations towards Rizal Park. 


Although the program started at around 3 pm, organizations such as the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) held a small program in front of the University of Santo Tomas’ main gate. 


Several Lumad children located at the University of the Philippines Diliman for the annual iteration of the Lumad Bakwit Schools attended the event, emphasizing the displacement of their communities in Mindanao due to the combined militarization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and paramilitary groups.


Also present in the program were previous senatoriables and human rights advocates Atty. Chel Diokno, Atty Neri Colmenares, and Ms. Samira Gutoc.


According to Manila Police District, an estimate of more than 1000 participants gathered in Rizal Park at around 3 in the afternoon to raise their voices and fight against tyranny and the social injustices that is prevalent in the country under the current administration. 


Meanwhile, the UST – Simbahayan Community Development Office held a discussion about martial law on the same day at the Graduate School Auditorium. J. Bote and R. Bote.



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‘Campus militarization brings back ML horrors, to sow fear among students’ — Martial Law victim

Former political prisoner and Martial Law victim Hilda Narciso aired her concerns regarding the supposed plan of heightened military presence in campuses as it “brings back horrors from the past, and will sow terror and fear among students,” Friday, September 20. 



Photo by Audrice Serrano

Former political prisoner and Martial Law victim Hilda Narciso aired her concerns regarding the supposed plan of heightened military presence in campuses as it “brings back horrors from the past, and will sow terror and fear among students,” Friday, September 20. 

At the Francisco De Vitoria: Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao Talakayang Martial Law forum spearheaded by UST-Simbahayan, Narciso pointed out that there is no need for the imposition of campus militarization. 

“When the government is the one telling this, that is already martial law, an undeclared nationwide Martial Law. Why would you push if there is no threat? Bakit i-impose sa lahat ng eskwelahan?” Narciso stated. 

She continued in an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb: “This (campus militarization) will be prone to many abuses, it will bring horrors from the past […] It will only sow terror and fear among students.”

Narciso, who experienced sexual abuse and molestation from military men during Martial Law, also expressed her concern on red-tagging. 

“Kung mag-tag sila iniisa na nila lahat kahit na aktibista, binabrand agad nila bilang mga komunista, o drug addict,” Narciso said. 

On historical revisionism

Narciso also shared and mentioned the atrocities she herself experienced during Martial Law era. 

“Hindi biro ang usapin [ng Martial Law]. Napakaraming mga namatay. Grabe ang ginawa ng mga Marcos. May mga nilitson na tao, minassacre, maraming mga pinaslang,” she stated. 

Narciso further added: “Nakakalungkot at nakakagalit bilang nakaranas ng atrocities at karahasan ng Martial Law, pero dahil sa kawalan ng kaalaman ng mga henerasyon. Bakit ni-rerevise? Ang hirap tanggapin na may attempt ng revisionism.”

Moreover, she encouraged the younger generation to “pass [the torch] onto the next generation.”

“Palagi kong sinasabi: ‘I’m bringing the torch with me, and I want to pass it onto you. And pass it onto the next generation, and don’t allow the flame to be lost’” Narciso urged. 



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Martial law forum highlights human rights violations

A martial law forum hosted by the UST-Simbahayan was held yesterday, September 20, 2019 as part of the Francisco De Vitoria Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao featuring talks about martial law and human rights.



Photo by Audrice Serrano

A martial law forum hosted by the UST-Simbahayan was held yesterday, September 20, 2019 as part of the Francisco De Vitoria Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao which featured talks about martial law and human rights.

In the beginning of the program held at the Graduate School Auditorium, the University’s Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. Pablo Tiong O.P. first introduced Francisco De Vitoria and his role in human rights during his time.

“Nang 1225 isinilang si Santo Tomas. Mga 1510-1520, si Francisco De Vitoria, isa ring Dominican, ipinaglaban niya ang karapatang pantao ng mga tiga-Americas,” said Tiong.

He shared that Vitoria fighted for the rights of the natives in South America in the Court of the King of Spain.

“Matinding debate, matinding paglalaban […] na kailangan igalang ang karapatang pantao ng mga natives ng South America,” said Tiong.

He also added the importance of the duty of respecting others’ rights and to carefully analyze the rights being fought for. 

“Magkasama ang duty at rights, mga katungkulan at karapatan. […] “Kapag nag-umpisa tayo sa tungkulin sa Diyos, matutuklasan natin na lahat pala ng karapatang pantao ay galing sa Diyos. Mayroon tayong katungkulang igalang ang karapatang pantao [at] suriin kung ang ipinaglalaban ay tunay na karapatan,” he added.

Hilda Narciso, a victim and survivor of the martial law era who is now a healer also gave a talk about her experiences during those times.

She asserted that there is again an undeclared martial law in the country, and she keeps on talking about the stories of martial law because she does not it to happen again.

“We are all sick. The country is sick. Which is why I go to healing. I kept talking about these things because I don’t want it to happen again.

She also urged the youth to keep the torch burning to imitate Christ’s example of respect and compassion for others. 

“Dalhin niyo sa susunod na henerasyon. […] Gayahin niyo ang Panginoon, ang kanyang pagtingin sa tao […] at pagpapahalaga sa kapwa.

Jerbert Briola, Deputy Executive Director of Task Force Detainee of the Philippines and a member of the Commission on Human Rights also gave a talk on human rights in the country under President Rodrigo Duterte.

He asserted that human rights violations are still rampant under the Duterte administration and there are different methods being imposed to “restrict civil liberties.”

“Patuloy pa rin ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa ilalim ni Pangulong Duterte. […] Lahat ng presidenteng dumaan hanggang ngayon ay patuloy na umiigting ang oagpabag sa karapatang pantao,” said Briola.

He also mentioned that Duterte has a narrow view on his interpretation on human rights and the prevalence of culture of death in the country.

“Pag drug pushers, drug lords, wala nang karapatan. […] Ganon na lang yung kawalan ng pagpapahalaga ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas sa karapatang pantao. […] Dito makikita natin, paano yung narrow mindedness ni Pangulong Duterte sa kanyang interpretasyon, sa kanyang pag intindi sa human rights,” said Briola.

Briola also mentioned that the planned national ID system will might lead to increase in government surveillance and analytical breach.

“Malalaman ng isang gobyerno, ng isang institution kung progressive ka ba or not. […] Itong national ID system ay massive profiling ng mga Pilipino,” he said.

For him, these events are proofs of the degradation of democratic space in the country and urged the youth to do their duty to resist.

“Yung patuloy at patuloy na pagsisinungaling, ito ay magiging totoo. At ito ang nangyayari ngayon. […] It is our duty to resist,” he said.

Militarization in universities to ‘sow terror’

The plan to increase military presence in universities was also tackled where the speakers expressed their disapproval and concerns.

Tiong said that if there is really an actual threat, the protection should be provided by the Philippine National Police (PNP) which is part of their duty and not by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“How we wish this would be reconsidered because under ordinary circumstances, the peace and order should be kept by police force. […] But if we would going to have that protection, the protection should be for real threat. And we wish that it would not come from the military because the military is for external threat,” said Tiong.

Briola also expressed his concerns, mentioning that the training of the military is quite different and they have a different mindset.

“Ang military or ang AFP, they were trained, iba ang training niyan compared to PNP and other security forces. They were trained to destroy. Iba ang kanilang mindset. […] It will open gates ng iba’t ibang abuses,” he said.

Narciso also pointed out that increasing military presence in schools will only “sow terror” to the students.

“Why come up with militarization in school. It will sow terror in schools. Magiging dumb na kayo. Hindi na kayo kikilos. Hindi na kayo magiging free kung paano kayo hinubog ng Diyos na maglingkod sa kapwa,” said Narciso.

The Francisco De Vitoria Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao is a weeklong activity featuring in the University in commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the country.

An exhibit was also held at the lobby of UST-Tan Yan Kee Student Center featuring different martial law victims and events.


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