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Senatorial candidates answer issues in PPCRV’s Town Hall




     THE Senatorial Town Hall of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), in cooperation with Solar News Channel and UST Central Student Council, gathered senatorial candidates last March 4, 2013 at the UST Medicine Auditorium.

     The senatorial candidates present were the following: former chairperson of the Movie and Television Review Classification Board Grace Poe Llamanzares, Ang Kapatiran Party Attorney Marvin Llasos, former Aurora Representative Sonny Angara, former Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Social Justice President Atty. Professor Samson Alcantara, and United Nations Alliance candidate Gregorio Honasan.

Why should we vote
     Town Hall is composed of six segments and the candidates were required to answer questions within 90 seconds.

     The aspiring candidates were asked why the youth and Filipinos should vote for them this upcoming election.

     With her role as a mother, daughter, and a former public servant, Poe has seen several ways in which she can represent her countrymen.

     “My platforms are based on transparency and help uplift the lives of the most marginalized sector of our society. I draw inspiration from the memory of my father who has really upheld sincerity and also honesty in his life of work and eventually through his hard work in the political realm,” Poe said.

     Atty. Marvin Llasos’s platform is inspired on the development and education of the youth as an expedient towards economic progress and prosperity.

     “Gusto ko lang bigyan ng inspirasyon ang kabataan na galing sa mahirap, isang anak ng OFW, at isang anak ng magsasaka.”

     One of Former Aurora Representative Sonny Angara’s platforms is to strengthen Filipino solidarity to unite the society. He incorporates education and labor in his candidacy. He also cited laws that will help the nation, such as Free Kindergaten Law, Expanded Seniors Act, and Tax Relief Act.

     “Ang aking plataporma ay may kinalaman sa kalusugan, imprastraktura at mga benepisyo na may kinalaman sa presyo, kita, at trabaho, dapat abot kaya at sufficient,” asserted by former Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

     Atty. Professor Samson Alcantara is eager to abolish political dynasty and he sees this as a hindrance in the political sphere.

     “Ako, nakikita ko po na ang senado natin, nagbabangayan. Sinasabi na may ka ng pera. Dapat magkaroon ng senador na hindi ganun ang gagawin,” he clarified.

     United Nation Alliance candidate Gregorio Honasan proposed a solution to alleviate the conditions of the Philippines: one must end poverty and various forms of violence. His aims are to make the Filipinos at par with the Chinese, Singaporean, and Europeans alike.

     “This is about the future generation of Filipinos, making them smarter, healthier, stronger, and safer, making them more competitive and productive citizens of this country,” he added.

Issues and viewpoints
     The candidates were asked by a panel of experts in the field of politics, education, and law. The following experts were: Ambassador of the chair for PCCRV Herrieta De Villa, UST Secretary General Fr. Winston Cabading, his excellency Consul of Magnolia to the Philippines Alfred Lagman, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Letters Michael Anthony Vasco, and trustee of PCCRV Atty. Marina Demetrio.

     Each candidate was given 85 seconds to answer.

     Cabading asked Honasan about his truthfulness and transparency in all of his dealings.

     “Yes, Father. In fact for the truth, I have risked my life over and over again. I have always preserved that value I have adhered to. That has been the hallmark of everything I have done,” Honasan answered.

     Vasco questioned on what strategies will Alcantara utilize to make universities—both public and private—be at par with the best universities around the world.

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     “I intend to have a legislation to improve the welfare of teachers. I intend to legislate the teacher’s code that will define the relationship between the teacher and the student, teacher and school, and teacher and the parent. In what code? Yung mga batas tungkol sa mga teachers whether in public or private eh nagkalat na po yan. Mabuti pa isa-isang code lang yan. There can be no quality education without the teachers being taken care of,” Alcantara replied.

     Anna De Villa Singson, the event host, raised a question to Escudero on what could he have done to avoid bloodshed in Sabah.

     Escudero cited articles on the constitution that they do not have the power to negotiate foreign policies but they can only ratify treaties.

     “Para po sa akin pare-pareho lang tayo ng gusto. Si Pangulong Aquino ka man, nasa oposisyon, taong mamamayan, o sa Mindanao ay walang gusto ng karahasan at may mamatay na Pilipino lalo na sa ibang bansa.

     “Pangalawa, sang-ayon po ako sa ginagawa ni Pangulong Aquino sa ngayon kung saan di niya binigyan ng supporta ang marahas na paraan na ginamit ng sultanate of Sulu upang ipaglaban ang claim nila sa Sabah,” Escudero quipped.

     Lagman pointed to Angara on what are his thoughts on his political dynasty. Angara admitted that it is one of the frequent questions being hurled at him during senatorial forums.

     “Lahat ng Pilipino ay may karapatan to aspire for public office. At may provisions tayo sa constitution na dapat bigyang galang. Unfortunately wala tayong implementation.”

     “Yung positibo po diyan is napunta yung emphasis ng kwalipikasyon ng kandidato ‘di lamang sa pangalan. Ako’y hindi tumatakmo sa surname lamang. I’m running based on my credentials, platforms, at naniniwala akong may maidudulot itong maganda,” Angara said.

     Angara urges to registered voters not to vote the candidate because of their names but to vote them for their skills and morality.

     De Villa, on the other hand, asked Llasos if he supports the deployment of Filipino workers to other countries to boost the country’s economy.

     Llasos answered that he does not support the deployment of Filipino workers because of the huge social cost of labor export. He said that one must compel Filipino families to stay here in the Philippines through firm investments.

     He stressed that protection must also be given to OFW families so they can have equal rights with local workers.

     Demetrio questioned Poe on what will her plans to help the marginalized sectors.

     She emphasized the importance of agriculture in the country since it is one of the primary sectors supporting the economy of the country.

     “Naniniwala ako na ang marginalized sector sa ating bansa ay ang magsasaka. Limang milyon po ang ating magsasaka bagamat 200, 000 sa gobyerno ang may proteksyon sa insurance. Kailangang palawakin ang pag-eenroll sa mga magsasaka lalo’t na may global warming tayo,” she explained.

Public Sectors and Students
     The senators were also asked by the students and the different sectors concerning education, health, agriculture, OFW, and current events.

     The forum ended with the one word segment, wherein candidates were given phrases on politics, pop culture, and other controversial issues in which they are complied to reply in one word.

By Kenn Anthony B. Mendoza
Photo taken by Rosana Marie A. Lafuente



‘Democratic spaces shrink amid COVID-19 pandemic’—PhilRights exec

Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) executive director expressed concern over reduction of civic and democratic spaces in the country as an effect of the “worsening spate” of extra-judicial killings amid COVID-19 pandemic. 



Photo grabbed from the official Facebook page of UST Simbahayan

Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) executive director expressed concern over reduction of civic and democratic spaces in the country as an effect of the “worsening spate” of extra-judicial killings amid COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Transparency and accountability are not government priorities. A culture of impunity continues to be perpetuated by the government,” PhilRights Executive Director Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan said. 

Simbulan, who is also the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of UP Manila, emphasized that passing the Anti-Terror Law of 2020 and lowering the age of criminal liability are “anti-people policies” propagated by the government’s legal apparatus. 

“Part of the efforts of the government to discourage protest actions, political actions intended to call the attention of the government to policies and programs that are anti-people is the framing of civic participation as a destabilizing force,” she said.

Duterte’s core principle of governance

Simbulan condemned the blatant red-tagging of democrative defenders and government critics that recently claimed the lives of Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez, further highlighting the 2019 Global Peace Index which placed the Philippines as the second least peaceful country in the Asia-Pacific. 

She noted that the government playbook normalizes violence as there are efforts being undertaken by the administration to “make people accept violence” as part of their daily lives.

“President Duterte’s core principle of governance is violence, and even the international community has not failed to recognize this,” Simbulan said. 

However, Simbulan said that there are “glimmers of hope” in different forms of resistance such as continued mobilizations, documentations, and lobbying of petitions in Congress and Supreme Court. 

The webinar titled, “Francisco de Vitoria Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao” was spearheaded by the UST – Simbahayan Community Development Program as a part of the annual human rights activities series every September.


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CSC welcomes interim officers

The University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (UST-CSC) announced on Sunday, Sept. 13, the new set of interim officers in Central Board for the academic year (AY) 2020-2021.



Photo courtesy of Hector Armando Sarion, Carl Christian Lumberio, and Montgomery Alexander Tan

The University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (UST-CSC) announced on Sunday, Sept. 13, the new set of interim officers in the Central Board for the academic year (AY) 2020-2021.

CSC acknowledged three new faces in provisionally handling the position of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Secretary-General.

On May 21, The University’s Commision on Elections postponed both local and central student council elections for the AY 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their resolution declared all non-graduating incumbent officers as interim officers until elections are rescheduled. 

Hector Armando Sarion from the College of Education Student Council was elected as the Interim Speaker, Carl Christian Lumberio from the College of Commerce and Business Administration Student Council as the Interim Deputy Speaker, and Montgomery Alexander Tan from the Accountancy Student Council as the Secretary-General.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb, Sarion said that one of the challenges he expects during his term as the Interim Speaker is the gap that online classes create for the Thomasian students.

“[I]t’s not just a matter of internet connectivity, but also the inclusivity and accommodation of the diverse learners in our university. It’s the main call that we leave no student left behind,” Sarion said.

Sarion also said that the new CSC will continue the projects concerning the University’s Student Code.

“[W]e would always do our very best on having updates from the officials and progress back from the past academic year wherein we had meetings concerning the students’ code,” Sarion stated.

In addressing the challenges of online classes, Lumberio said that the approach must be “get and about,” in which the officials would engage with the student body and take the time to assess issues and problems.

“The key lies in making a more conscious effort to be present, that there is someone who will be pertinacious in standing firm in upholding and protecting the rights and welfare of the whole Thomasian Community,” Lumberio told TomasinoWeb.

For Tan, prompt assistance to every student is one of his leadership agendas.

“One of my plans for our term is the ‘Students’ Help Desk.’ Based on my observation, a lot of students are having a hard time reaching the different UST offices for their urgent concerns,” Tan said.

According to Tan, he wants the students to feel his leadership despite the pandemic.

“It has always been my motto that ‘actions speak louder than words.’ I will not promise empty words but rather bring about results that will eventually benefit the whole community,” Tan said. “Therefore, I want the studentry to feel my leadership through my actions and results.”

Sarion, Lomberio, and Tan succeeded Lady Freyja Gascon, Lorenzo Gabriel Banayo, and Sean Matthew Sison respectively.


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Student organizations slam Pemberton pardon

Three University student organizations expressed their dissent over President Duterte’s Sept. 7 decision granting U.S Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton absolute pardon. 



Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

Three University student organizations expressed their dissent over President Duterte’s Sept. 7 decision granting U.S Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton absolute pardon. 

“We strongly condemn the absolute pardon granted by the president as it is a clear depiction of the selective justice in the Philippines, which has little to no regard for human rights,” UST Hiraya’s Sept. 9 statement read. 

UST Hirayaさんの投稿 2020年9月9日水曜日

On Oct. 11, 2014 Jennifer Laude was found dead naked on the floor of a comfort room in Celzone Lodge. Her autopsy report indicated that she died due to “asphyxia by drowning.” 

Pemberton served less than six years in prison after being convicted of homicide in December 2015. He was originally sentenced to six to 12 years in prison which was reduced to 10 years in 2016. 

“Pemberton must be jailed in New Bilibid Prison to serve his rightful sentence,” League of Filipino Students (LFS) – UST said on Twitter.

Pemberton’s release was ordered by Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde. She ruled that the American serviceman has served his maximum jail term with good conduct and time allowance credits. 

“No amount of good conduct will be enough to redeem Pemberton’s gruesome murder of Laude six years ago, and this act of cowardice by the administration screams injustice not only to the Laude family, but also to the LGBTQ+ community,” TomasinoWeb’s statement read. 

Both LFS – UST and TomasinoWeb echoed that Pemberton’s release is a “disregard towards basic human rights.”

A call for safe spaces

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According to Hiraya, Pemberton’s absolute pardon is a “repulsive manifestation” of the country’s disregard for human human and transgender rights. 

“[S]etting a murderer free would only reinforce the systemic discrimination and violence pervasive in our country,” Hiraya said. 

Hiraya highlighted the need for a strengthened law that will protect Filipinos from crimes and violence based on gender convictions. 

They also stressed that this is the “high time to champion” safe spaces for all through legislative and judiciary measures.

The government confirmed yesterday, Sept.11, that Pemberton was already undergoing the process of deportation to the United States. Jose Ama Rosario 


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