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Gov’t succeeds shifting attention of student activists—political science prof

The Duterte administration succeeded in shifting the attention of student activists from the pandemic to “peripheral issues,” a political science professor said on Monday, Nov. 23. 

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Photo from the UST Political Science Forum

The Duterte administration succeeded in shifting the attention of student activists from the pandemic to “peripheral issues,” a political science professor said on Monday, Nov. 23. 

Tingin natin yung aktibismo sa Pilipinas, yung mga nagrarally lang. We should break from that mold,” he said.

Prof. Anthony Andrew Divinagracia, who is from the University’s Department of Political Science, said these peripheral issues include ABS-CBN’s shutdown, the controversial Manila Bay white sand project, and the Anti-Terrorism Law. 

“This is unnecessary. These are part of what we call the unnecessary action,” Divinagracia said during a webinar on youth and pandemic.

While he believes that student activism is a part of the country’s political development, Divinagracia stated that activism in the Philippines is “too templated” and should be changed. 

“Tingin natin yung aktibismo sa Pilipinas, yung mga nagrarally lang. We should break from that mold,” he said.

“May mga aktibista rin in their own little way, they are striving for change,” he added.

Dissent is not necessarily wrong, according to Divinagracia. However, he argued that “emotional outbursts” should still be accompanied by reason and refinement of one’s “brand” of activism. 

‘Still on top priority’ 

Some student activists refuted Divinagracia’s claim, saying those peripheral issues are connected to the pandemic as far as their campaign framework is concerned. 

“The campaign framework [of progressive groups] shows that all of these issues are connected with each other but it puts the pandemic on top of the priorities,” Anakbayan member Gene, not her real name, told TomasinoWeb. 

Kabataan Partylist member Paulino, not his real name, stated that they have been calling for mass testing and a safe return to physical classes in dealing with the pandemic.

“While it is true that the recent typhoons landed a devastating blow on the masses, we still have the pandemic in mind when it comes to organizing and giving relief efforts,” Paulino told TomasinoWeb. 

READ  Pagbati sa gitna ng pandemiya

Both emphasized the importance of student activism amid pandemic, stressing that it “exposed the rotten system” of the society as masses continue to die and suffer on the hands of the “incompetent government.” 

“The call to be organized is strengthened during these times since every day… [T]he goal as we end this pandemic is to end this oppressive system as well,” Paulino said. 

League of Filipino Students member Chloe, not her real name as well, described activism as a counter-check and wake up call. 

“Without activism, the government can manipulate itself against the people rather than [be] pro-people. It can manipulate itself to serve for their own interests rather than the masses’ interests,” Chloe told TomasinoWeb. 

The webinar series, “Quaranteen: Narratives of the Filipino Youth Amidst a Pandemic: Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities,” was organized by the UST Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts and Letters, and UST Research Center for Social Sciences and Education in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung-Philippines.

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Prioritize mental health, youth leaders urge

Youth leaders on Saturday, Jan. 23 called on young leadership aspirants to prioritize mental health and emotional intelligence in service and personal circumstances.

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Asean Youth Engagement Summit Chairperson Josuard Gonzales and former UST Psychology Society President Karen Frances Aquino stressed the importance of mental health during the leadership webinar “SINAG 2020.”

Youth leaders on Saturday, Jan. 23 called on young leadership aspirants to prioritize mental health and emotional intelligence in service and personal circumstances.

Former UST Psychology Society President Karen Frances Aquino stressed that leaders should prioritize their mental health aside from serving their fellow youth.

“[B]ago kayo isang leader, tao kayo. Alagaan niyo [ang] sarili niyo and yung mental health niyo, tsaka mo [niyo] mas maalagaan yung iba at yung komunidad niyo,” she said during a youth leadership webinar.

According to Aquino, youth leaders should also be advocates of mental health to influence their subordinates on the same matter effectively. 

She also stressed the importance of creating projects to generate awareness about mental health. 

“[I]ts very important nga na magcreate tayo ng mga projects raising mental health awareness…[D]oon mo makikita a hindi ka leader lang, ang dami mong pwedeng gawin as a student leader,” Aquino told TomasinoWeb. 

Mental health issues are ‘valid’

Asean Youth Engagement Summit Chairperson Josuard Gonzales urged the youth to validate mental health obstacles as it will hone them as aspiring leaders. 

“[P]eople will lead through emotions and they reason after. Recognize muna natin na totoo ‘to. ‘Wag natin itago,” Gonzales said. 

According to Gonzales, it is vital for mental health issues like anxiety and depression to be a rising topic amid the lack of understanding about it. 

“It’s valid and it’s important that it’s valid. Bakit? If it’s valid then it’s talked about, and if we talk about it, then we can understand […] and then master it,” he said. 

“Totoo ‘to, importante ‘to at kailgnan pag-usapan,” he added. .

The webinar titled “SINAG 2020” is a two-part online leadership camp spearheaded by the University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council with a theme “Pagkilala at Kamalayan sa Sarili Bilang Isang Kabataan Lider.”

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Human rights advocates protest dismissal of progressive students

Several student councils and human rights groups urged the University administration on Sunday, Jan. 24, to uphold democratic rights after dismissing three students due to alleged involvement in “unrecognized organizations.”

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UST–Senior High School (SHS) Student Council representative Ruth Dizon (left) and Kabataan Partylist (KPL) –Katipunan Chairman Marco Mañaol (right) call on admin to uphold democratic rights during the League of Filipino Students press conference.

Several student councils and human rights groups urged the University administration on Sunday, Jan. 24, to uphold democratic rights after dismissing three students due to alleged involvement in “unrecognized organizations.” 

“While it is understandable that we need to abide by the existing guidelines and policies as much as possible, it is to take not that the 1987 Constitution […] shall remain the highest form of constitution by nature,” UST–Senior High School (SHS) Student Council representative Ruth Dizon said in a press conference organized by the League of Filipino Students.

According to Dizon, the UST administration should revise its policies suppressing student activism in the University.

“Nanawagan kami sa administrasyon na isaalang-alang muli hindi lamang ang mga paglabag ng mag-aaral, pati na rin ang mga patakaran ng Unibersidad na nagbibigay daan sa pagpapatahimik sa mga mag-aaral,” she said. 

‘Critical mindset’

Human rights groups stressed the importance of having a critical mindset due to the country’s current political situation. 

“[K]inakailangan ang pagiging kritikal at makabayan na kaisipan. Kinakailangan ang pagpuna sa mapaniil na administrasyon dahil kung walang pupuna, sino?” Kabataan Partylist (KPL) –Katipunan Chairman Marco Mañaol said. 

Manaol also urged the University to overturn its decision on SHS student Shoti Ampatuan’s case. 

KPL–UST is expecting that the administration will continue to issue show cause notices to some students in the following days. 

“We hope the administration sees the fear and intimidation that they cause and stop issuing show cause orders,” KPL–UST said. 

In a span of two days, the UST–SHS administration barred a student from enrolling next academic year, while two more students were given show cause notices for allegedly joining unrecognized groups. 

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Thomasians promote youth engagement in nat’l affairs

Several Thomasians from different youth organizations pushed for the inclusion of youth participation in shaping the country in an online protest on Thursday, Jan. 21. 

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Online youth protest, "“Sulong Tomasino!: First Day Fight!” streamed via League of Filipino Students-UST official Facebook page on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Several Thomasians from different youth organizations pushed for the inclusion of youth participation in shaping the country in an online protest on Thursday, Jan. 21. 

Rights for Education representative Jay Santos stressed that the academe should also join the youth in this agenda. 

“[S]a panahon natin ngayon at  sa kasaysayan pa ng ating bansa, kinikilala natin ang kahalagahan ng papel ng kabataan sa paglahok at pahubog ng ating lipunan, at dapat katuwang natin dito ang ating paaralan,” she said.

According to Santos, the continuous suppression of the academe towards students also mirrors the government’s way of silencing its critics. 

Meanwhile, journalism major and one of the petitioners of the controversial Anti-Terror Law Mark Geronimo, encouraged the youth to use different social media platforms to educate and criticize the government. 

“[Y]ung mga platforms katulad ng Twitter, Facebook gamitin natin ito para mag educate at mag criticize sa mga maling gawain ng gobyerno,” Geronimo said.

Despite receiving several threats from online trolls, Geronimo still urged the youth to educate themselves in the current issues faced by the country. 

The online protest titled “Sulong Tomasino!: First Day Fight!” was streamed last Jan. 21 at the official Facebook page of League of Filipino Students – UST.

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