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CSC appeals for mass promotion, suspension of academic term

Based on conducted surveys and gathered student grievances, the Council cited as the bases of their appeal the accessibility to stable internet, availability of learning resources, conduciveness of learning environment, health concerns, students’ safety, and financial problems.

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The University Central Student Council (CSC), along with the local student councils, submitted on April 17 a petition letter which calls for a mass promotion and the end of the current academic term.

“While we recognize the efforts of the University in ensuring that all academic goals are met, we remain firm with our belief that during these extraordinary times, the welfare of the whole community is of utmost priority,” CSC said in the statement.

Last April 8, the University issued an Institutional Continuity Plan during Extended and Post-Enhanced Community Quarantine which mandates the resumption of online classes amid the extension of enhanced community quarantine.

Based on conducted surveys and gathered student grievances, the Council cited as the bases of their appeal the accessibility to stable internet, availability of learning resources, conduciveness of learning environment, health concerns, students’ safety, and financial problems.

“From the given sets of concerns, we cannot deny the fact that this pandemic has affected a lot of families in more than one way,” CSC said.

“At this very moment, it would not be beneficial for the general population to be preoccupied with the burdens of formal academic learning which may later on also have repercussions on one’s mental or psychosocial health,” they added.

The student councils also urged the University administrators to “halt all forms of disciplinary actions given to students who are voicing out their concerns” as these complaints were only a manifestation of the student body’s demand for revisions in the continuity plan.

“In these extraordinary times, it will be of no help to give disciplinary measures to students who are calling for changes for the welfare of the student body,” CSC said. “Now is not the time for this.”

At the end of the statement, the student councils encouraged the entire student body to remain critical and prudent at the present time.

“Although we recognize the significance of free speech,” they said. “Freedom of speech, however, is not absolute. And like any human right, free speech carries with it responsibilities.”

“In the very essence of the existence of student councils, we are here to uphold your rights and welfare. Trust that your councils stand for what is right, honorable, just, and true,” they added.

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Counter military, police propaganda-based disinformation—veteran journalist

Rappler managing editor urged aspiring journalists Friday, Oct. 23, to fight propaganda-based disinformation caused by law enforcers.

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Photo grabbed from Rappler.com

Rappler managing editor urged aspiring journalists Friday, Oct. 23, to fight propaganda-based disinformation caused by law enforcers.

Glenda Gloria, a journalism alumna of the University, said that the military and the police do not seem to understand the role of the media as the fourth estate because of their “very utilitarian” view of information. 

“They use information as propaganda because they think it has to achieve something for the organization, whether that means further securing the country or defeating the enemies of the state,” Gloria said in a fact-checking webinar. 

According to her, the attempt of law enforcers to speed up their propaganda is due to the tremendous pressure to eliminate insurgency before President Duterte steps down in 2020. 

“The biggest factor behind the politicization of the armed forces is the commander-in-chief. Whatever the President wants will determine the political influence of the military,” she said. 

Gloria reminded aspiring journalists that no war has been won using propaganda as a primary tool and to “continue the fight against lies” that are being weaponized for the mass destruction of the country.

The webinar titled, “Propaganda, State Secrets and Other Issues in the Security Sector,” was hosted by MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler. Vhey Tapia and Raheema Velasco 

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Flatten curve to revive economy, solon says

The government should remain in its goal of flattening the curve to revive the economy, a lawmaker advised Saturday, Oct. 24.

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Photo courtesy of the UST Central Student Council

The government should remain in its goal of flattening the curve to revive the economy, a lawmaker advised Saturday, Oct. 24.

“Klaro naman na hindi natin kailangan pumili between saving lives and livelihood. Hindi na tama na ang trade-off between the two…[b]ecause we can save both,” Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo said. 

Quimbo, who is also an economist, stressed the importance of evidence-based policymaking and monitoring, as well as business continuity and job projection interventions. 

The solution and interventions included grants for technical assistance, subsidies for COVID-19 testing, and wage subsidies with retention clauses. 

“We can afford to rise, pero dapat balansehin so as not to fall into a debt crisis… [b]ecause as we all know napakadali po to become poor pero napakahirap mag-exit sa poverty. Importanteng importante ang datos,” Quimbo said.

Quimbo also laid out the framework for the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE), which she is one of the principal authors. 

Under the ARISE, a comprehensive plan will be followed to address the pandemic-brought economic crisis with a proposed P1.3 trillion budget over three years.

In the bill still pending in the Senate, Quimbo specified transitional, financial, sectoral, and structural support that, according to her, were the basis of the framework for the “mini-version” of the Bayanihan 2 that is in effect until the end of this year.

‘Reform the economy’

IBON Foundation executive director Sonny Africa urged the government to “reform and shape” an economy that benefits everyone. 

According to Africa, the government’s current response is focused on a “very artificial poverty reduction” by granting cash transfers without addressing the structure that continues poverty.

“The government is very keen on infrastructure to promote economic growth, but the Philippines is so lacking in economic fundamentals as it uses infrastructure as a short-cut to growth,” he said.

Africa also criticized that while the government is focused on infrastructure development, decades of neoliberal health privatization eroded  the public health system, which worsened the mortality rate even pre-pandemic.

The webinar “EkonDisyon: Philippine Economic Recession and COVID-19” is a part of the MulaTalakayan organized by the University’s Central Student Council. 

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Tourism recovery to revamp economic sectors, officials urge

Tourism officials stressed the importance of a responsible and “new normal-ready” recovery in the tourism sector amid gradual easing of health protocols in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Photo courtesy of the UST Research Center for Social Sciences & Education

Tourism officials stressed the importance of a responsible and “new normal-ready” recovery in the tourism sector amid gradual easing of health protocols in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Officer Alfonsus Tesoro called for sustainable and strategic recovery efforts to support and revamp economic sectors.

“Tuloy-tuloy dapat ang pag-conduct ng tourism site assessment and planning kasama ang iba’t-ibang stakeholders from the national government agencies, provincial government offices, and the private sector,” Tesoro said in a webinar, Thursday, Oct. 23. 

According to Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes, a survey conducted in Eastern Visayas showed that 66 percent of the respondents admitted that health risks affected their decision to travel, while 80 percent are now eager to visit tourism sites within the region only. 

“This gives us an idea of what tourism activities we should prioritize when we reopen our [tourism] sites. A large majority expect health and safety protocols in place, there should be value for money, and that fun activities will still be offered even under the ‘new normal,’” she said.

Tiopes added that despite the steady reopening of the tourism sector, health protocols would still be strictly employed to ensure safety of tourists and residents. 

The webinar titled, “Philippine Tourism Development and COVID-19 Pandemic: Recovery through Sustainable Development,” was spearheaded by the University’s College of Tourism and Hospitality Management in partnership with the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines, Inc., and co-organized by the UST Research Center for Social Sciences and Education. Paolo Alejandrino 

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