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No political party in 2020 Central Elections

In the two resolutions released by the UST Central Commission on Elections, the petitions of Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) for reaccreditation, and the Student’s Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UST (STAND-UST) for its registration were denied.

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A Central COMELEC staff tallies the votes in the manual elections of the University in 2017 | Audrey Fontilla/TomasinoWeb

No political party was accredited for the University’s Central Elections this year after the two political parties failed to meet the requirements.

In the two resolutions released by the UST Central Commission on Elections on Monday, 10 Feb. 2020, the petitions of Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) for reaccreditation, and the Student’s Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UST (STAND-UST) for its registration were denied.

LTC failed to meet the required 50 members from different colleges, faculties, schools, and institutes.

STAND-UST have completed the required 50 members but have not obtained at least two representatives from at least 15 colleges, faculties, schools and/or institutes.

According to Central COMELEC’s resolution, the submission of requirements has been extended several times since Nov. 27, 2019.

The UST Students’ Election Code of 2011 (USEC) states that central political parties must have “a minimum member of fifty (50) students and at least two (2) representatives from at least fifteen (15) faculties, colleges, schools, and/or institutes.”

This, however, does not affect the operations in the local elections in colleges, faculties, schools and institutes of the two parties mentioned above.

Changes in this year’s UST Elections

UST Central COMELEC Chairperson Lauren Eunice Navales said that they are expecting a higher voter turnout this year and more candidates will run in Local and Central elections. 

“Hopefully this year, mas marami na ‘yung tumakbo and tumaas ‘yung voter turnout,” Navales told TomasinoWeb in an exclusive interview.

“‘Yung iba kasi parang bahala na isa lang naman ‘yung vote ko. Feeling nila hindi nagma-matter ‘yung vote nila when in fact malaking part siya ng elections. Kasi without that one vote, malaki ‘yung nagbabago,” she said.

For her, one reason for the low voter turnout in the past years is that the students’ do not feel and see the difference in their vote.

“Based from what I here from people, hindi nila nafee-feel kung ano ‘yung nangyayari kung meron bang difference sa pag-vote nila or hindi, sa mga projects sa ganun. Especially sa local elections,” Navales said.

She also encouraged Thomasians to be more participative in this year’s elections.

“‘Yung right natin to vote, important siya lalo na paglabas natin ng UST. Magvo-vote tayo and participate sa national elections. And if ngayon palang na students tayo, hindi natin ine-exercise ‘yung right na ‘yon, parang make them realize na its important and malaki ‘yung magagawa nung vote na ‘yon,” she said.

The Central COMELEC also expects to have a more synchronized Calendar of Activities for this year’s elections for every college to ensure that every student will have the time to vote.

“Pinakamaayos sa lahat ng colleges na nag-e-election is AMV, kasi may scheduling sila. […] AMV kasi required their students to vote. Not all units ganon. Mahirap din naman na mag-force ‘yung student na mag-vote ka. […] Kasi right ng student na tumanggi kung ayaw niya. But kailangan din marealize ng student na important din ‘yung vote niya. Right din niyang mag-vote ng tao na gusto niyang maupo,” she said.

‘Yun ‘yung gusto […] para lahat ng sections maka-vote. And if ‘di man maka-vote sa kanila [local units], maforward sa open precincts [satellite precincts] if ever.

Navales also added that local COMELEC units/committees in colleges were asked to change their name to avoid confusion with the Central COMELEC and its units.

“Kasi ang societies, may sarili silang COMELEC na hindi under ng Central COMELEC. […] Pero kasi when you hear na COMELEC, part siya ng Central COMELEC. So ‘yun ‘yung nirequest namin na if ever, palitan nila ‘yung name kasi hindi naman sila under namin,” Navales said.

“Ang toong hawak lang ni COMELEC, ‘yung councils. ‘Yun ‘yung required naming hawakan. Pero ‘yung societies, magre-request sila kay COMELEC kung gusto nila,” she added.

Revision of the 2011 USEC

Meanwhile, the revision of the University Students’ Election Code of 2011 is still underway and is expected to be finalized this school year.

“Ilang years na siyang ina-update. And last year, last sem, nag-convene na ‘yung en banc ng Central and Local units para ma-finalize ‘yung draft. And this month, February, ipre-present na ulit siya, ‘yung final draft to the Central en bancs and Local en bancs ng Comelec para finally mapresent na ulit siya sa Central Board,” Navales said.

According to Navales, the revision of the USEC failed to reach a quorum in the Central Board last year. If it will be passed this school year, it will be implemented next academic year.

“Umabot na ng graduation kaya start from scratch this year. Kaya kinonsider namin ‘yung changes na sinuggest last year. […] If mapasa this school year, next school year bago na USEC,” she said.

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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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