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Human Rights Week in UST opens with forum

The UST Simbahayan Community Development Office hosted a forum on human rights today, September 16, 2019 as part of its Francisco De Vitoria Human Rights Week.

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Photo by John Aaron Pangilinan

The UST Simbahayan Community Development Office hosted a forum on human rights today, September 16, 2019 as part of its Francisco De Vitoria Human Rights Week.

Francisco De Vitoria is a Dominican priest known for instituting an international human rights law and a defender of the rights of native Americans.

The University’s Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. Pablo Tiong O.P. introduced Francisco De Vitoria to open the said forum, highlighting the life of Vitoria and his contributions to the mative people of the Americas.

“Kung may karapatan, may katungkulan at ang nangunguna ay ang katungkulan natin sa Diyos. Lahat ng karapatang-pantao ay bigay ng Diyos. God is the fundamental reason for our human rights,” said Tiong.

Human rights under Duterte 

Prof. Nymia Simbulan, Ph.D. discussed the current human rights crisis under the administration of President Duterte 

“When we speak of rights, this would deal primarily with the relationship between the state and ordinary citizens. It does not deal with the relationship between two or more ordinary citizens. Human rights refer to the minimum standards on how the state would treat the people when it comes to civil, political, social, cultural and economical aspects of life,” according to Simbulan.

“When we speak of human rights violations, we deal with state perpetrated actions against ordinary citizens. ‘Pag ang isang tao napatay ang kanyang kapitbahay, hindi po ito itinuturing na paglabag sa karapatang-pantao. Those are crimes dealing with ordinary persons. […] Kung kailan hatinggabi ang mga tao natutulog tsaka papasok ang demolition team, that is a violation of human rights. When the people were thrown in an area outside Manila without electricity, education, then that would be a violation of human rights,” she said.

She reiterated how the current administration “bastardized” human rights in the country, and how the president serves today as a “big threat” to human rights. 

“The moment he [Duterte] assumed his position as the highest leader of the land, mapapansin natin naging bukam-bibig niya ang karapatang-pantao. How he [sees] human rights is something distorted, demonized, bastardized. […] President Duterte is the biggest threat to human rights since martial law,” said Simbulan

Simbula asserted that the administration’s war on drugs strongly shows the degradation of the respect for human rights in the country and how the war on drugs became a war on the poor.

Culture of impunity and democratic decay

“There is a culture of impunity. […] Ang lahat ng napapatay ay mga ordinaryong mamamayan. […] Some say that the war on drugs is a war on the poor. […] Whenever there are killings reported by the mass media, there are no protests, there are no demonstrations, which is very dangerous. Nagiging kampante na tayo. Normal na lamang sa ating lipunan” she added.

Simbulan also noted the democratic decay in the country because of the current policies and measures of the current administration and how bills and “kill policies” supporting war on drugs were prioritized.

“There is a democratic decay, undermining the checks and balances in the government. […] In the last Congress, there is a supermajority. So when it comes to political agenda, there would be no much debates. The priority bills on the war on drugs of the President were easily passed,” said Simbulan.

She also noted the vilification cruel treatment on human rights defenders.

“If you are involved in the drug war, you deserve to be treated with cruelty. If you are individuals affiliated with human rights NGOs, or human rights defenders, these individuals are labeled as enemies of the state,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mark Louis Siapno, Head of Strategic Division of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) talked about how CHR’s role and mandate in the protection of human rights, noting how human rights became too political instead of being universal.

“While you have your human rights, there are people in charge of your human rights. […] From a universal concept, ang human rights nagiging political concept when in fact, you have your own human rights. Ang human rights ay hindi na pinag-uusapan sa tamang perspektibo. Hindi na pinag-uusapan nang para sa lahat,” said Siapno. 

“Human rights also points to obligations. May katuwang na obligasyon at karapatan. […] For as long as it respects other person’s beliefs, you cannot put blanket restrictions as it will violate peoples’ rights. For as long as they are human, the state has obligations to respect rights,” he added.

Siapno also asserted the importance of human rights especially to the poor: “Those who have less in life should have more in law. The CHR serves as mechanism para pantayin ang lahat in the eyes of the law,” said Siapno.

The Francisco De Vitoria Human Rights Week will feature an exhibit and film viewing, and will have another forum on martial law on its last day on September 20, 2019.

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Thomasians demand for passage of students’ code in First Day Fight

The protest condemned the “yearly” tuition increase and demanded for the passage of the long-delayed students’ code of rights of the University.

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Photo by Arden Esmile/TomasinoWeb

Progressive students from the University held their “First Day Fight” protest to kick-off the first day of classes for the second semester at UST Gate 2 Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.

The protest condemned the “yearly” tuition increase and demanded for the passage of the long-delayed students’ code of rights of the University.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb, Karch Rafael of Kabataan Partylist-UST expressed his concern over the passage of the students’ code which might start again from the very beginning after the change in the University’s rector.

“Ngayon ang [gusto nating tutukan] ay tuition increase nanaman tsaka ‘yung democratic rights na patuloy na inaapakan, na sinusupil ng estado natin tsaka ng administrasyon ng UST.

“Gusto nating mabuo ‘yung students’ demand at maipasa na ‘yung students’ code [ngayong] taon na mahigit 16 to 17 years na siyang nakabinbin. Napalitan nanaman ang rector, ibig sabihin nito mataas ‘yung posibilidad na bumalik siya from square one,” Rafael said.

“Dahil sino ba dapat ‘yung primaryang nakikinabang sa kung anong ibinibigay ng isang paaralan. Siyempre ang estudyante, estudyanteng parte ng kabataan at magiging pag-asa ng bagong henerasyon,” Rafael added.

Students also criticized the budget cuts on the country’s calamity fund and government’s response on the Taal Eruption.

“Tinututulan natin yun [budger cut]. Nung nakipag-usap naman ako [na] nabiktima din nung kalamidad ay malaki yung inaasahan nila na tulong mula sa gobyerno natin sapagkat alam nila na yung gobyerno dapat natin ‘yung primaryang tumutulong sa mga mamamayan sa panahon ng pangangailangan,” he said.

Rafael also expressed his anger towards Duterte administraton and its policies, “Habang tumatagal si Duterte sa bulok niyang palasyo, lalong tumitindi yung pag-atake sa mga mamamayan”, he added.

Trisha Ifurung of League of Filipino Students-UST also said that the protest also aims to look back on what has been done from the previous semester and continuing to fight for the students’ and the people’s rights that are being neglected by the administration.

“Panibagong taon nanaman pero yung mga problema na nararanasan ng mga mamamayan ay patuloy pa din,” she said.

The students also called for the junking of the mandatory ROTC for senior high school students and the K-12 program which is about to undergo a public review by the House of Representatives. R. Velasco with reports from J. A. Pangilinan

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Dagohoy concludes University rectorship

“It is an honor to serve Asia’s oldest university, and to meet wonderful people like you. Love UST,” the former rector said on Jan. 15, as posted in the UST’s official social media pages.

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Rev. Fr. Richard Ang and Rev. Fr.Herminio Dagohoy, UST's 96th rector, during the Paskuhan mass in December 2019 | Deojon Elarco/TomasinoWeb

University of Santo Tomas (UST) Rector Very Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P., the 96th Rector Magnificus of the University, has already concluded his eight-year term in the University.

“It is an honor to serve Asia’s oldest university, and to meet wonderful people like you. Love UST,” the former rector said on Jan. 15, as posted in the UST’s official social media pages.

Dagohoy, 55, was the 9th Rector of the UST Angelicum College and former finance director of UST Hospital before he assumed his rectorship in the University.

He was born in Hagonoy, Bulacan, and he graduated accountancy at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines before joining the Order of Preachers.

He also finished other degrees: AB Philosophy, Sacred Theology, Master of Arts in Philippine Studies, Licentiate in Philosophy, and Doctorate in Philosophy.

Rev. Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., UST Vice-Rector for seven years, is now the acting rector.

He was the former dean of the then Faculty of Philosophy and former chairman of Manpower, Scholarship, and Retirement Board Committee of the University.

Ang, during his academic years, has published several scholarly articles about philosophy such as “The Confucian Li,” “On Conceiving Ren towards Birthing Ru Jia,” and “The Concept of Ren.”

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Aegis Juris fratmen in Atio slay denied of bail petition

Manila RTC Branch 20’s resolution states that despite Castillo’s ailment, the blow delivered by the accused Aegis Juris members “is the efficient cause of death” or may have “accelerated his death” making the accused criminally liable.

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Photo by Tristan Deang/TomasinoWeb

[UPDATED] Ten main suspects in the hazing slay of Faculty of Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III in 2017 were denied of their petition to post bail due to their ‘strong evidence of guilt.’

The resolution of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 on Dec. 10, 2019 states that the court is “not convinced” of the autopsy findings showing that Castillo died of Acute Tubular Necrosis (ATN), and the hazing injuries inflicted on the victim did not cause his death.

This prevents Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Axel Hipe, Oliver Onofre, Joshua Macabili, Ralph Trangia, Robin Ramos, Jose Miguel Salamat, Danielle Rodrigo, and Marcelino Bagtang Jr. who were charged for violation of R.A. 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law from posting bail after “finding the evidence of guilt” strong, the resolution states.

It reiterates that despite Castillo’s ailment, the blow delivered by the accused Aegis Juris members “is the efficient cause of death” or may have “accelerated his death” making the accused criminally liable.

Presence during hazing, according to the Anti-Hazing Law, is “prima facie” or proves the participation of the accused unless they did something to prevent the punishable acts committed.

The 10 fraternity members were indicted last March 2018.

Last June 17, 2019, one of the principal suspects in the case, John Paul Solano, has been convicted for obstruction of justice.

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