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Civil Law dean denies meeting Atio days before hazing

Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina filed a counter-affidavit denying that he met with Castillo on Sept. 12.

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Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina submitted a 30-page counter-affidavit denying any liability in the death of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III. Photo courtesy of Mong Pintolo/The Philippine Star.

Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina submitted on Monday his counter-affidavit before the Department of Justice (DOJ) denying any liability in the death of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, who was allegedly killed due to hazing rites.

Along with his 30-page counter-affidavit, Divina attached copies of CCTV footages from his law firm to prove Castillo did not meet with him on September 12, as Atio’s parents Horacio and Carmina claimed.

Atio’s parents, assisted by their lawyer Lorna Kapunan whom Divina sued for libel thrice, filed a complaint against the dean for murder and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law.

Kapunan’s son Lino, who is also co-counsel in the case, said Atio paid a courtesy call on Divina as a neophyte of the Aegis Juris Fraternity, which Divina is also a member of.

The Castillo camp used a text conversation as evidence between Carmina and her son on September 12, where Atio said he was at a law firm near “Petron gas along Buendia” where the Divina Law firm happens to be in that area.

Divina however said that he prohibited organizations at the UST Faculty of Civil Law including the fraternity from recruiting freshmen.

“Atio did not even mention my name or my law firm. Indeed, there must be at least a dozen law firms in the Petron area. In our building lane, there are several law firms. There is simply nothing in the foregoing text exchange that can be construed as indicative of actual prior knowledge on my part of the hazing that was to be conducted on September 17,” Divina said in his counter-affidavit.

Also, Divina said in his counter-affidavit that organizations wishing to conduct initiation rites seek approval not from his office, but from the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) which has the duty to appoint school representatives to be present during initiation rites.

Divina said that Aegis Juris did not ask permission from OSA and that he cannot be accused of a cover-up because he had done all he could to help with the investigation.

He also said that the reason why he did not immediately called Atio’s parents about their son’s death on September 17 was because he only heard an unconfirmed report from the Faculty Secretary Arthur Capili.

Divina only received initial details from news reports in the morning of Sept. 18.

“Up to that point, none of the police authorities had gotten in touch with me. I took it upon myself to write General Joel Napoleon Coronel, the head of the Manila Police District, requesting for a dialogue to enable us in the Faculty of Civil Law to implement whatever measures you think is necessary to assist the police in its investigation,” Divina said.

Also, Divina said that he does not know the officers of the fraternity and their contact details as he is a non-active member of Aegis Juris.

Divina added that he considers quitting the fraternity but said that the decision would have to be made after the case.

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Student organization condemn anti-terror bill provisions

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) The Political Science Forum (TPSF) condemned the constitutionality of the “questionable” provisions and mechanisms of the Anti-Terror Law (ATL).

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Arden Esmile/TomasinoWeb

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) The Political Science Forum (TPSF) condemned the constitutionality of the “questionable” provisions and mechanisms of the Anti-Terror Law (ATL).

“[T]he Draconian measures pointed out by critics of the law emphasized on the stifling of dissent and criticism, and the possible danger of disregarding the democratic freedom of every Filipino,” the statement released yesterday, July 4 read.

TPSF also called for vigilance among Filipinos amid the signing of the Anti-Terror Bill into Law last Friday, July 3. 

“Given this turn of events, the Forum calls for vigilance among all Filipinos in ensuring that its enforcement shall be free from disfranchisement of fundamental rights of everyone,” the Forum said. 

TPSF stressed that government critics, student activists, indignant masses, and indigenous groups in the country are the “most vulnerable” in the enforcement of the highly scrutinized warrantless investigations and arrest. 

According to the Forum, the provisions of the law, specifically on the prolonged detention of the alleged violator and lesser liability of law enforcers from erroneous accusations, “may result in power tripping and reckless law enforcement.” 

“[T]he balance of power in handling revolving around terrorism are centered to the executive department whereas the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) shall be comprised of presidential appointees, members who have most likely to have conflict of interest with the state,” TPSF said. 

The Forum also questioned the “practicality and relevance of the bill” during the pandemic.

A group of lawyers and civic leaders, led by Lawyer Howard Calleja, filed yesterday, July 4, the very first petition against the newly signed ATL before the Supreme Court. Jayziel Khim Budino

 

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Students not ready for self-directed learning—EdTech director

Students “may not be really ready” for self-direction and learning independence without “prodding from the teachers,” the University’s Educational Technology Center (EdTech) director said yesterday, June 27.

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Screengrab from the Learning in Focus webinar

Students “may not be really ready” for self-direction and learning independence without “prodding from the teachers,” the University’s Educational Technology Center (EdTech) director said yesterday, June 26.

“With or without pandemic, no single tool really and no amount of technology would be the solution to all our instructional problems,” Asst. Prof. Anna Cherylle Ramos, president of Philippine e-Learning Society, said during a webinar about shifting from classroom to online term.

Virtual monitoring sessions and centralized e-learning support unit, according to Ramos, was provided by the University to the teachers for the implementation of an online learning system.

“For the context of the University of Santo Tomas that has been using online technology for almost 20 years since 2002, we had the edge of implementing our continuity plan for teaching and learning right away after the declaration of the lockdown,” she said.

Ramos mentioned that in a survey conducted by the University, 98-percent of the faculty and 94-percent of the students have no stable internet connection.

“Out of our survey, we were able to locate the students with no internet connection and with our partnership with major telecom companies who were able to deliver the devices and the pocket wifi devices, so that they are able to finish the semester,” she said.

“I guess for me, COVID-19 also provided some positive contribution because it has unleashed a revolution in our education,” Ramos said.

Challenges ‘more psychological’

The bigger challenge in taking the education online, according to De La Salle Lipa College of Information and Engineering Dean Jorge Bacobo, is more psychological than technical.

“Those [technological problems], we know what the solutions are,” Bacobo said. “It’s getting the people who are involved for example in our schools, teachers, parents, administrators, to adjust to a revolution that’s forced [on] us by pandemic.”

“It’s really the evolution of people and how they have to change their relationships with each other in order to address the new needs of a new normal,” he added.

Bacobo emphasized that the pandemic changing the whole world challenged more the relationship between the students and the teachers and between the teachers and their teaching platform.

“Teachers suddenly realized they’re not anymore the sages on the stages. They’re now set aside. They’re more like guides on the side…They are no longer the medium of instruction,” he said.

Bacobo explained that the digital infrastructure has become the new medium and the teacher’s “avatar” or representative.

Department of Education Undersecretary Nepo Malaluan also said that online learning is “a very potent tool.”

“When we talk about the learning continuity in this time of COVID and doing distance learning, online learning is only one of the modalities,” he said. 

“Our viewers and our parents and learners and the public and sometimes even policy makers equate distance learning with the online learning platform,” he added. 

Technological challenges of online learning, according to Malaluan, are the capacity of teachers in delivery of large-scale online learning, conversion of classroom-based learning resources to distance learning resources, and the cost of online learning to the students.

Ramos urged the students that despite the teachers being “converted into text,” students should be more understanding as the issue of bandwidth impedes the online availability of the teachers.

“Online technology or online instructions would just be one of the many things we can do to be able to deliver that content,” Ramos said. “[Students] must realize that while we are doing something like this, we still have your teaching presence.”

“The learning activities themselves and the step by step procedure being given by the teachers is in fact the teaching presence themselves. There should be that understanding on both parties,” she said.

The webinar, “Learning in Focus,” was organized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inq To be You, and INQUIRER.net.

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CSC decries ‘unlawful arrest’ of ‘Pride 20’

The University Central Student Council (CSC) condemned the “violent and unlawful” arrest of 20 protestors who participated in the Pride March held in front of Mendiola Peace Arch, Friday morning, June 26. 

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Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

The University Central Student Council (CSC) condemned the “violent and unlawful” arrest of 20 protestors who participated in the Pride March held in front of Mendiola Peace Arch, Friday morning, June 26. 

“[It] is a clear abuse of undignifying power against our LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters,” CSC’s statement read.

The protestors who were arrested called to junk the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which is set to lapse into law on July 9. 

Different progressive groups who joined the rally were dispersed by the police, despite observing health protocols such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks.

“Our expression of dissent will never be an act of terrorism. Pride is a protest. #FreePride20!” CSC said. 

According to reports and posts circulating online, several police were seen “hijacking” one of the demonstrators’ private vehicles to bring them to the police station. 

The police nabbed 20 people, 10 of which are members of Bahaghari including its spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salinas, eight members of Gabriela, and two drivers.

Salinas took to Twitter to express her concern on their arrest: “Hinuli man kami ngayon, walang pandemiya, walang lockdown, at mas lalong walang mga pasistang baboy ang makapipigil ng pagsinag ng Bahaghari. #SulongWagPatinag.” 

#FreePride20

The arrested protestors were not informed of their violations and were not read of their Miranda rights, which angered the netizens.

The #FreePride20 trended on Twitter as netizens called for the immediate release of the ‘Pride 20,’ which were currently detained at the Manila Police District headquarters.

Miss Universe 2019 Catriona Gray as well as groups such as Gabriela Women’s Party, Bahaghari, and Metro Manila Pride also condemned the arrest. 

Three minors were already released, but the remaining are set to spend the weekend in detention as inquest proceedings resume on Monday.

The Metro Manila Pride March was originally set on June 27. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event was cancelled and will be held via virtual gathering instead. 

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